What is dying, the environmental movement or the environment?

By David Moskowitz of Portland, Oregon. According to David, "I currently work for the Wild Salmon Center, a Portland-based salmon conservation organization. I was the Treasurer of the Measure 34 PAC. I have previously worked for the Northwest Environmental Defense Center, Association of Northwest Steelheaders, Oregon Trout, Native Fish Society, National Marine Fisheries Service (now NOAA Fisheries), and as Salmon Recovery Coordinator for Metro."

It has been frustrating to read recent new stories about the environmental movement's declining influence in the nation's agenda. It is hard to argue that environmental issues rank equally with family, health and job security issues for most Americans. However, environmental issues are inextricably linked with these top tier issues. Do environmental professionals need to do a better job showing the link and marshaling support? More can and must be done. Are grassroots conservation initiatives dead? Absolutely not.

Most Americans assume they will have clean water coming from their faucets when they wake up, and that they will be able to breath deeply in the clear morning air when they step outside to get their morning paper (assuming they are not getting their morning news from the internet or from corporate media outlets who own both radio and TV stations in most communities).

That same American will wake up worrying about their falling standard of living and job security. Their jobs are less secure in this age of global economic change where trade agreements place more value on cheaper labor costs and relaxed environmental standards than on maintaining family wage jobs and protecting community and environmental health.

How much time can the average American give to environmental issues when their job security, wages and overtime rates have eroded in the past four years? How much time can the average American give to environmental issues when over 40 million of their fellow citizens lack access to basic health care and health insurance? When the head of a household worries about their family's economic and physical health, their first thoughts may not be about the health of the environment even if it should be.

I wonder how the average American has the time to give to environmental causes in their neighborhoods when they are bombarded by calls for help from their neighborhood schools. Our local public schools rely on parents to provide basic services in the library, lunch room and in classrooms because state and federal support for pubic schools has been systematically attacked by ultra-conservative tax reform terrorists for over a decade.

When the average American does contact their elected representatives in Congress and in their state legislatures with their concerns about eliminating or easing environmental or health care laws and regulations, typically, the only feedback comes in the form of boilerplate letters. How does the average American maintain a belief that their opinion matters when they must compete against the thousands of paid lobbyists and the millions of dollars of their spending every day in Washington DC or Salem?

How can environmental organizations avoid the media-reported perception that they are confrontational and litigious when the only news stories that receive serious attention in the mainstream media involve lawsuits or the treat of lawsuits? Rather than highlight the lawsuit and typical opposing sound bites from the usual suspects, why doesn't the media spend more time investigating and reporting on the often-flagrant disregard of federal or state environmental laws by private parties and even public agencies who are charged with upholding the public's interest and trust in protecting clean air, clean water and a healthy environment. The media's portrayal of environmentalists will more likely highlight a tree sitter than a citizen or neighborhood activist, more likely report on a contentious lawsuit than a long-term negotiation between opponents that results in a joint agreement and progress, and more likely ignore the ecological harm to the natural and human environment from poor corporate practices than report on the typical (albeit scary) harm from everyday crimes, crashes and fires.

Given the complexity and enormity of local, national and global environmental issues, environmentalist and conservationists have no choice but to continue to work steadily to protect the environment as well as to better communicate and connect with average Americans who overwhelmingly want and support clean water, clean air and open spaces protected for future generations.


  • (Show?)

    Thanks for the post, David. Environmentalists (for want of a better word) find themselves at a crossroads, and one that doesn't feel very hopeful. I think, though, that it's not a different crossroads than lefties across the spectrum find themselves in. We no longer have the bully pulpit, can no longer introduce legislation, and the docile media (owned mainly by a few conservative corporations) parrots back the words of those who do have the bully pulpit.

    But I think environmentalists are in a unique position among lefties. At the dawn of the last century, liberalism was confronted with a clear challenge: economic justice. As the decades rolled on, liberalism also adopted social justice as a central cause. Despite what we may feel in the face of an aggressively regressive GOP, Americans in 2005 have nearly unparalleled opportunities within the society (as compared to historical standards). That's exactly why a regressive charge is met with such a ho-hum. Liberalism needs to reclaim lost ground on social and economic justice issues, but it doesn't need to spark a revolution.

    So what is the central challenge confronting the world in the new century? Global climate change. It is not difficult to imagine that in a few short decades, wars will be waged over food and water as the world's ability to support 6 billion people declines rapidly. I've watched with some wonder as the days keep rolling by, sunny and clear in my beautiful, formerly wet Portland. Sure, this winter is a statistical outlier, but there's not an American who doesn't feel the warming trend deep within her bones.

    Liberalism in the 21st Century needs to revolve around the fragile environment. It's the key issue, and it also serves as a beautiful metaphor for the interconnected world we live in. Environmental health is like global health--it depends on the health of an entire network. Economic well-being is now interconnected, as is our physical wellbeing.

    I'd like to see liberals take the radical step of putting the environment square in the middle of their agenda, using it is a policy and metaphor focus for their initiatives in the coming years. If we're going to take action to prevent catastrophic climate failure, we must act now. If we're going to move past this grim crossroads in politics, we're going to need to think big. Playing defense against the GOP's regressive assault will not be enough.

  • (Show?)

    Perhaps a well-crafted and simple ballot measure would be great for 2006. Something that most everyone can get behind, but that attacks the anti-environment community right at the heart. Put them on the defensive for once.

    Maybe something that's not logging-related, but rather health & safety related, something suburbanites could really go for without too much thought. Something people would support without a lot of advertising and relatively less money needing to be spent to get it passed. But something they'll have to spend a lot on fighting.

    Any ideas?

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)

    Getting folks to care about the environment is very difficult under present conditions. The exploiters control the public discourse through think-tanks, PR, media ownership, and last, but not least, the federal government.

    Environmental issues are not simple to explain or understand. They are easy to confuse. With Teflon anti-enviro groups, paid-off scientists, and journalists like John Stossel around, the majority of American will either scoff at environmental protection or be paralyzed by cognitive dissonance.

    Nothing is more important than environmental matters, but making headway there is more difficult than in the areas of economic policy and social programs. These have more easily identifiable person effects, as in, having no healthcare access, or not being able to pay the rent. Global warming and energy sustainability seem remote when you are worrying about being sick and homeless.

    There is another major problem in selling environmentalism. We refuse, as a society, to recognize the need for sustainability, basing our models for progress on the false belief in unlimited growth and inexhaustible resources. Until we can publicly admit that there cannot be ever more of what we now have, environmentalism will seem quaint and disconnected from reality. Of course, it is environmentalism that reflects reality, and our economic ethos that is fantastical.

  • (Show?)

    David, I share your pain and frustration. The only thing I can think of to do to connect the average American with what's happening to the environment is to start including humans--and human health--in the equation.

    By this I mean that instead of fighting battles to save fish, spotted owls, clean water and clean air, we should make the case for the effects of a degraded environment on human health. When the Bush Administration wants to cut our forests down, it becomes a resource issue. But when they want to relax the regulations on arsenic in drinking water, it becomes about the health of kids.

    By the way, there's a very thought-provoking paper written by two young environmental leaders on the future--or lack thereof--of the movement here.

  • (Show?)

    Perhaps a well-crafted and simple ballot measure would be great for 2006.

    Cody: I have an idea: what about a ballot measure directing the State of Oregon to cut global warming emissions to 1990 levels (as Kyoto does on a national basis)?

    I have no idea how to get a ballot measure filed, does anyone else know what we have to do?

  • PanchoPdx (unverified)

    Don't get caught up in your own hype.

    Local support for environmentalism is a mile wide and an inch deep. For decades it has crept into public policy here inch by inch because it wasn't fashionable to object. But unlike the frog in the pot of boiling water, Oregonians had the sense to jump out (twice now because the Ore. Sup. Ct threw us back in the pot by overturning M7 in 2000).

    Everybody wants clean air and water, but we aren't into worshipping the trees (or stretches of worthless "farmland"). Fairness to property owners is a fundamental issue that voters grasp and the planning crowd cannot overcome with clever rhetoric.

    Most voters are content allowing you to remain the social equivalent of an environmentalist Miss Manners. Learn to embrace this role.

    Tell us whether paper or plastic bags are a better choice (still not sure myself) and we'll try to use them. Cajole us into recycling and we'll begin separating our trash. When it is easy to be green, almost everyone complies voluntarily.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)

    Well Pancho, it's not easy to be green, but the alternative is brown - as in worldwide brownfield. My guess is the latter will prevail because so many folks think like you do.

  • (Show?)

    On the subject of incorporating environmental goals with human needs:

    Portland's Bureau of Environmental Services is projected to collect $175 million in rate revenue next year. $110 million of that is debt service and debt coverage--$85 million debt service, about $25 million in coverage required by bond holders used to cash-finance construction. Conservatively, half of the monthly sewer charges of about $40 for a typical resident go to debt service.

    The city's $1 billion+ work to control sewer overflows into the Willamette is just one effort among many around the country. Over the next twenty years, US cities are projected to spend $100 billion on CSO projects.

    As a result, the cost of utilities increases much more quickly than peoples' incomes, especially for seniors on fixed incomes. Seniors end up making choices about what they will give up--heat, food, health care--in order to make ends meet. These crushing financial burdens help contribute to an overally sentiment that people are over-taxed.

    The irony is, using the $100 billion figure, that the federal government could project zero-interest loans to fund CSO work around the country for about $4 billion a year. This year's proposed budget from the president is about $2.5 trillion. It's much bigger than previous year's budgets. It also includes cuts in the state revolving fund program, which is a relatively small source of assistance for urban areas, but critical to smaller rural communities who lack the capacity to sell their own revenue bonds.

    However much 9/11 and tough economic times may have distracted people from the environmental concerns that rated highly in the 1990s, there is widespread public support for clean water programs. For a relatively small commitment from the federal government, we could simultaneously slash rates by about a third--as could other cities around the country--while actually accelerating our commitment to cleaning up our rivers. These huge public works projects also keep a lot of people employed, of course.

    It's tough, I imagine, for a member of Congress to make headway in proposing a program like this, with the focus on where we're going to get the next $80 billion for Iraq, or the expected $2 trillion in new debt needed to finance Bush's social security program. But until we start pointing out how specific progressive policies on the environment are consistent with efforts to help seniors and families, our discussions may stay stuck in the theoretical realm.

    For what it's worth, I had a conversation on this subject with a rep from a national environmental group on the late 1990s, when Portland's sewer rates were still in the $30/month range. Their response? The cost of water was too low, and it needed to be higher in order to promote conservation.

    No, we cannot let concern for the environment trump our concern for people. The two ought to go hand in hand. The foundation of the conservation movement is the idea that our most beautiful public lands be preserved for the enjoyment of the public, now and into the future. The central principle of the Clean Water Act is that the public owns the waterways. I think we need to reconnect the principles of environmentalism to the idea that the true wealth of nation's is measured by the health of our society, including its cultural and environmental assets, our education system, and the concern that we show for one another as human beings.

  • (Show?)

    However much 9/11 and tough economic times may have distracted people from the environmental concerns that rated highly in the 1990s, there is widespread public support for clean water programs.

    Rich, maybe this is an issue of semantics, but I while agree with you that people support clean water...but I think that they support clean water not because it's necessary to support a healthy ecosystem, but because it's water that I might have to drink, or because I want to fish in it, or because I don't want my kids exposed to the chemicals in the water.

    I'm arguing for making that connection of humans to the natural environment more explicit. Rather than people being "stewards" of the land, air and water, I think we should reframe the debate that we are part of the land, air and water--what happens to them happens to us,the equation being polluted water=sick people.

    One other point. Sustainability as it is understood now means that people's economic & social needs are taken care of as well as the health of the environment. I think too often we as environmentalists (and I include myself here) have considered only the impacts of policies and actions on the environment, and not the impacts on people.

    It's more difficult to create public policy thinking this way, but environmental needs have to work in tandem with the social and economic needs of people and society.

  • (Show?)

    My intent was to show at least one specific way to connect human needs with environmental goals, as far as retrofitting urban infrastructure is concerned. However strong the environmental movement may be, it's just not reflected in the federal budget, and the federal bugdet consumes the lion's share of a person's total tax burden.

    Similar ways of thinking can be applied to farming and forestry, and theoretically to CO2 emissions from coal-burning power plants. I'm fully convinced of the need to put people first when we talk about the environment, but I think we need to move past talking about it to developing a specific federal legislative agenda that demonstrates these joint priorities.

    When FDR built the Columbia River system, Woodie Guthrie was singing songs about bringing electricity to the West. If you're connecting that well with the people, you don't need to talk about soccer moms or NASCAR dads, or introduce shades of gray into a poll-tested platform. We can use the power of the federal purse to update our critical infrastructure, and our natural resources and energy industries, in a way that satisfies the desires of a broad swath of people in the country, including environmentalists in Portland, sewer rate payers in Tampa, and farmers in the Ohio Valley.

  • (Show?)

    Leslie's link before to "The Death of Environmentalism" is worth checking out- despite some over the top language. One example from the paper, which I've been arguing for some time, is the need for enviros to be more strategic about working towards our goals.

    The paper uses the example of the NRA, which targets gun-control advocates who are voting against their interests, and then uses whatever issue it can to defeat them. The key difference is that although they are a gun-rights rights group, they are just as likely to hit someone on taxes, gays, corruption, whatever. I don't see the same raw hunger to win from our folks.

    I also think that the enviro community generally does a not-so-hot job of reaching out to other progressive coalition partners. As progressives, we are strongest when we are all not stuck in out little life boats...

    Here's an example, which may sound like sour grapes, but in the last campaign cycle, I worked against Constitutional Amendment 35, which would limit the jury rights of terribly injured medical malpractice victims. The core issue wasn't environmental, but it was clear from public quotes of the sponsors that the effort was a first step towards more sweeping restrictions, which they planned to go for if successful and that would have a clear effect on the ability of enviros to use the courts. Putting aside the PR problems with enviro lawsuits, having access to the courts still needs to be an option for fighting polluters.

    Timber companies, Oregonians for Food and Shelter, Chambers of Commerce and other pro-extraction groups all got it. They helped the Yes side, as an investment in 1) their conservative coalition 2) their longterm goals/interests.

    But the enviros declined, and I believe, once again unilaterally disarmed in an important fight. Now, as the manager of this race it wasn't the end of the world, but as an enviro it really bothered me.

    Also, in an attempt to be bi-partisan- which is a totally legitimate strategy- enviro groups sometimes hold Republicans to a lower standard on clean air and water votes. Why should a R with a League of Conservation Voters score in the low 70s get equal consideration with a D with a score in the high 90s? Should we really be punishing electeds for making a pro-environmental choice when voting for Speaker/President of the Senate?

    Cody asked about proactive enviro initiatives. It's a good question..

    I'd apply the idea of coalition building to be an important criteria in deciding on a winning issue. What are some areas in which we can promote enviro protection and build alliances?

    A "Healthy Schools" Initiative- requiring new school construction to meet minimum energy and toxic free standards could bring in school advocates into the mix. A "Clean Energy" Initiative could create living wage jobs and get labor on board possibly. A series of local anti-Walmart ordinances could get draw a broad coalition of progressive forces...

    These might not be the answer, but these are the type of questions we should be asking. Also, enviros haven't passed something proactive since 98- and we badly need a win.

  • Chas Jones (unverified)

    Leslie: How to file initiatives.

    First step is easy: gather 25 signatures with the text of the proposed initiative. Have those verified as registered voters by the County. Submit to Secretary of State. Argue over ballot title language.

    Getting the language right (so you end up with a good ballot title, have a good law, don't set yourself up to lose the campaign, etc.) is hard, though.

    As is collecting the 100,000+ signatures to ensure you have enough valid signatures to make the ballot.

    And of course winning the case if you're up against big enemies.

  • Chas Jones (unverified)

    Well, hell, copy it into another browser and use it: http://tinyurl.com/4h5ub

  • (Show?)

    Andy Kerr has a good set of Rules for the Road on conservation ballot measures here.

    I'd say his third point- the need to have an all volunteer signature drive- is debatable. Other than that, I think these are dead on. I'd also add the need to look for strategic initiatives that affect other NGOs outside enviro world, as mentioned in previous post.

  • Edward (unverified)

    I've known a number of environmental activists who suffered from over specialization. They were passionate about their one issue but failed to see the importance of other similar issues.

    My sister -- a teacher in her day job -- was at a party where some childless-by-choice enviros started to complain about how their taxes were being used to support breeders and schools. My sister was shocked that a so called progressive could display such a callous disregard for other progressive issues, let alone for the plight of a friend facing an immenent layoff due to another round of budget cuts.

    This is nothing new. A lot of enviro groups occupy one specific niche to the complete exclusion of any other issues. Does the group that files lawsuits against the forest service pay attention to what happens on the indian reservation? Hardly. They can't even usually be bothered to deal with the ranchers whose grazing rights they want to take away. Each of these groups could easily be issue-friends with overlapping interests, but they just don't bother.

    The enviro-movement could certainly take a few lessons from the pro-life crowd. Members of both groups hold on to their issues with the rightous fervor of their moral beliefs. Pro-lifers just seem to be more successful in making friends (w/ big business, libertarian types, etc).

  • William Neuhauser (unverified)

    Good topic.

    Charlie Burr makes some good points.

    On the strategic front, I think an area that the environmental groups can be working is that the conservative assault has been on the entire concept of "the commons" and of government being an aid to achieving our common goals with the compact of paying taxes to achieve those goals.

    So an area to work is rebuilding the notion of the good we get from what we share in common and that taxes are not inherently evil, but part of having a government -- and doing so with coalition partners not just in the environmental arena but also in other areas of the common good - public schools, etc. In other words, take a broader, strategic view.

  • (Show?)

    A couple thoughts. To get a "win" the idea/topic/initiative will have to be so simple, so clear, that a 4-year-old could get it.

    I got this image just now on the drive home of a person getting a knife blade stuck in their leg - the caption is "this is what they are doing to the environment". It's not good for your body, it hurts. Something simple like that. I walked Gresham and Tigard door to door this past election season. The majority of people are distracted by TV, and with what they've got going on in their lives.

    So, I think it's part Lakoff - framing the issue and part - we've got to make it so so so so simple, that anyone could get it. People understand and want to avoid physical pain, and it's not such a stretch to say that the hurt we're doing to our own environment physically hurts us.

    The word environment has too many syllables. Earth, perhaps that's better.

    Oh yeah, someone wrote - "they're poisoning the earth", or "poisoning the water/air". That might make a good initiative title: The DON'T POISON OUR AIR AND WATER BILL.


    Thanks for listening. Most interesting discussion.

  • (Show?)

    To paraphrase Pancho and address Cody's (great) idea, you'd probably loose control of that horse as soon as the True Believers get involved.

    The big trick would be to restrict the scope of the ballot measure by thinking through how the other side will attack it. Standard rule of debate. At least among the Dems, I've rarely witnessed that level of restraint among the enviros. That said, there are folks within that interest group who can be pragmatic and incremental and I personally know and respect a few of them myself.

    Tom, any thoughts on this?

  • (Show?)

    Thanks William.

    I totally agree with the need to keep it simple (which is one of the criteria in Kerr's guidelines, see above post). Many observers blame the defeat of California's "Big Green" in large part to a lack of simplicity (and being a little tone deaf for Americans' general disregard for things big- ie "big" business, "big" government, ect.)

    But simplicity alone won't always do it either- the Kerr guidelines were developed after the 1994 campaign to ban cyanide mining, which despite it's clean message- NO ON CYANIDE/ YES ON ??- was trounced at the polls. After being outspent 77 to 1 (sadly, my introduction to oregon ballot measures), the campaign went down in flames. Let me repeat: we couldn't get a simple majority to prevent the threat of a known poison getting into the water table.

    The good news is this: after the passage of "takings", the defeat of Measure 64 (logging restrictions), Measure 34 (Tillamook/logging), Measure 27 (frankenfoods labeling), there seems to be a grassroots angst and hunger out there to take the fight to the other side, that if channeled correctly, could lead to real momentum for an 06 ballot measure. But as mentioned before, for a movement in part premised on the interconnectedness of nature and natural systems, enviros need to do a helluva lot better job connecting ourselves with other allies and friends.

  • Steve Bucknum (unverified)

    I grew tired reading this and the comments. I'm tired because there is so little new. So, I'll take a stab at it.

    I live in Central Oregon in a rural area. "Greens", "environmentalists", "1000 fiends of Oregon" (as we call 1000 Friends here), etc. are not well received here because they are viewed as interfering with our life style and our resource based economy. On the other hand, it is the view of people here that we live a superior life style to our city friends over there in that valley because we have clean air, low traffic, great natural beauty, and low population. In other words, we love the very things that the enviro's seek to protect.

    Sound like common ground?

    If the "environmental movement" is to survive, it needs to reform itself, move away from extremism, and take up a new "frame" of its mission.

    I would suggest that the "new" environmental movement should be local. That is to say, let the city folk clean up their backyard, and let us rural folks clean up our backyard. Out here in rural Oregon, the city enviro's sound crazy to us because they can't keep Portland's sewage out of the Willamette River, can't keep oil out of the storm drains, can't seem to get a handle on air pollution, and can't seem to manage traffic. When we visit the city, being accustomed to clean air - well to put it bluntly (and really we are more polite than this) -- you stink (literally). Take care of your issues before proposing unrealistic solutions on us!

    The fencing measure was a disaster. It would have meant miles of fences that would wash into streams clogging them, it would have limited the movement of our game animals such as deer and elk, it would have cost an arm and a leg. The forestry measures were more of the same. "Environmentalism" incrementally lost credibility with each of these measures in rural Oregon.

    But - before you all have a heart attack - we care about our land, our water, and our air as much or more than you do. Clean water means healthy cattle. Plentiful water means good crops. Clean air is expected! No one gets any financial reward out of ruined land. In the rural areas we are here for the long haul.

    So, in "reframing" environmentalism, I would think that any Statewide initiative should empower local efforts. This is already happening with watershed councils, the Juniper project going on over here, the OSU experimental stations working on everything from blue potatos to all kinds of better crops. In fact, per capita, rural folks are probably much more directly involved with "environmental" work today than our urban neighbors.

    So, if environmentalism is to succeed in the future, it needs a new look, it needs to be locally sensitive, and it needs to honor the people in rural areas.

    Hey, do this and the rural folks will have one more reason to vote with the Democrats!

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)

    Recently, small groups have qualified initiatives that the mainstream enviro groups failed to support. Of course, those groups could have brought forth their own initiatives, but did not. Why? The desire to concentrate on electing candidates? The need to play defense against anti-enviro initiatives?

    Most worthy green ideas will step on some big economic toes, so having the money and manpower of the major groups is a must. If Sierra, OLCV, and others hear that their members want a green initiative, they will have little choice but to get on it. Drafting good language and scoping out the likely opposition is critical. The talent and know-how are in place. It's a matter of motivation.

  • (Show?)

    To be overly defensive, Steve, 1000 Friends of Oregon has five offices around the state, including one in Central Oregon. It has a farmers advisory committee with significant power made up of resource folks from across Oregon. It has Republicans and rural dwellers on its board and staff. It has members every county in Oregon. And it opposed the Clearcutting initiative (Measure 64) and did not support the Tillamook Measure (Measure 34).

    I don't know where it was on the fencing/grazing measure (probably did not take a position), but the staff member who worked with farmers drove around with a NO on whatever number bumpersticker and was bending the ears of anyone who would listen to her. And it has never backed anti-pesticide bills.

    1000 Friends recently brought together many folks on a serious ranching research project, where it was backing the needs of ranchers.

    When such a group really works hard to be in touch with rural folks who depend on resource lands, to the agitation of some of its environmentalist members and people who won't join because they're mad about it not being more environmental, it's hard when you lump it in with other groups.

  • (Show?)

    Thus far, people have pointed to the following factors as keys to success for a 2006 environmental initiative: 1. Make it something very simple with built-in broad-based support 2. Make it relate to people, not just animals and plants and the earth 3. Keep it small 4. Frame it so it wins 5. 1. Build a broad-based coalition around it, including other progressives and rural Oregonians 6. Choose something that can stand up to the opposition's arguments and financing

    The ideas mentioned so far include: 1. A Kyoto Protocol for Oregon 2. Require schools to be built more green 3. Require more investments in clean energy 4. Prevent the expansion of big box retailers

    Another idea might be to extend the Business Energy Tax Credit to residential property owners and nonprofits, and/or to expand the credit. Or to require some nongovernmental construction to meet State Energy-Efficient Design requirements.

    I looked around at the websites from various Oregon environmental groups, but didn't see much in the way of concrete ideas we could push. Are there any ideas from you who are involved with environmental groups active in Oregon? Or from others?

  • Ross (unverified)

    People, people. You fail to understand why the environmental movement is dying. You are too blinded by your own dogma to understand the flaws in your argument.

    The "Stop Poisoning the Water and Air" measure? Please. Don't you understand that your rhetoric doesn't match reality? Also, the city of Portland dumps raw sewage into the Willamette, but environmentalists are quiet about it because the city of Portland is a political friend.

    My point is this, despite the assertions of true believers, the environmental movement has lost credibility because its positions are extreme and inconsistent. There is no need to suggest that our water is being poisoned, those inflammatory words simply drive people off.

    Also, everyone knows the city of Portland is dumping raw sewage in the Willamette, but you greenies don't say a word. Say what you will, Oregonians see that as hypocrisy, plain and simple. You greenies could go a long way working with others in the legislature to lay the hammer on Portland for dumping sewage in the river. The fact is - and don't deny it -- if it was a corporation dumping sewage the greenies would call for the corp's head.

    Finally, most of you point to people like me and say "he works for a certain property rights group, he is anti-environment". Wrong. I am concerned about the environment, but I seek balance. Not the type of out-of-balance "balance" the greenies want, but true balance. Just because I think an occasional clear-cut is ok, or salvaging the biscuit fire makes sense, doesn't make me a "raper of the enivronment". But the environmental movement is quick to label people like me. everytime you do that, you further marginalize yourselves.

    If the recent election teaches you anything, it is that Oregonians don't agree with extreme views. Just ask 1000 Friends, who for years took unbelievably rigid, absolute views. They were unwilling to budge, and everytime a law was introduced in Salem that restored even the most minor of rights, they would tell everyone the law would "gut Oregon's land use system". Everytime they cried wolf, they lost more credibility.

    Eventually they got Measure 37.

    For me, the enivronmental movement is fascinating, and hopefully doesn't die on the vine. I think greenies are important to our process, but they need to temper their message and stop the namecalling before they will be effective.

    Just my two cents.

  • (Show?)

    Ross... You wrote, everyone knows the city of Portland is dumping raw sewage in the Willamette, but you greenies don't say a word.

    Um, Ross, the city is spending OVER A BILLION DOLLARS in this town, right now, fixing that problem. Check it out.

    <h2>This is one of those 'invisible' services that anti-government wackos never see. "The government doesn't do anything for me." Oh yeah? Your toilet flushes, doesn't it?</h2>
guest column

connect with blueoregon