What is the future of Environmentalism?

September 24, 2007

I just got back from a  conference in Beijing — a place where the air quality is enough to strike fear into your heart about the future of this planet.  At this conference, I gave a brief talk on the Green movement seen through the lens of my own consuming patterns over the course of the past year or two.  I’ve made strides, no doubt.  But I’ve never really considered myself an environmentalist, per se.  At least not by the traditional measures of environmentalism.  Environmentalists are, after all, those people like Julia Butterfly Hill who sat in a Redwood tree in California for 738 days.

Julia Butterfly - web

I mean she was literally living for — and perhaps willing to die for — the environmental cause.

Not me.  I’ve got a couple of little kids at home, and a lovely wife.  I just want to do things a little better.  So I’ve made what I consider to be small changes.  We replace light bulbs with compact fluorescents, we recycle and we drive hybrid cars.

So, I found the cover story in the most recent issue of Fast Company to be particularly interesting.  It talks about whether Adam Werbach, formerly the youngest-ever head of the Sierra Club, had sold his soul to consult with Walmart on their Green initiatives.werbach2

His view, if I may encapsulate, is that the future is going to come from converting the masses, and getting them to make small choices in their  daily lives.  Small changes that, when taken together, can have a more profound impact than a tiny majority acting at the extremes.

I tend to agree, and I admire what he’s doing.  Read the article and judge for yourself.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Advertisements