Why Saving the Planet Sounds So Damn Scary

Dispatch from SSC President Jennifer Woofter

I recently had one of those moments where you read an interesting article, which links to another article, which then takes you down a rabbit hole from whence you may never escape. Normally, I don't like to share political thoughts on the SSC blog, but I'm going to make an exception here. Why? Because this article (and the articles it links to) raises a really important point. So let's dive in:

On January 27, 2012, Keith Goetzman wrote an article called First Environmentalism--Then Socialism! in Utne Magazine. He starts with this excerpt from Naomi Klein article Capitalism vs. the Climate from The Nation:

Responding to climate change requires that we break every rule in the free-market playbook and that we do so with great urgency. We will need to rebuild the public sphere, reverse privatizations, relocalize large parts of economies, scale back overconsumption, bring back long-term planning, heavily regulate and tax corporations, maybe even nationalize some of them, cut military spending and recognize our debts to the global South. Of course, none of this has a hope in hell of happening unless it is accompanied by a massive, broad-based effort to radically reduce the influence that corporations have over the political process. That means, at a minimum, publicly funded elections and stripping corporations of their status as “people” under the law. In short, climate change supercharges the pre-existing case for virtually every progressive demand on the books, binding them into a coherent agenda based on a clear scientific imperative. …

Climate change detonates the ideological scaffolding on which contemporary conservatism rests. There is simply no way to square a belief system that vilifies collective action and venerates total market freedom with a problem that demands collective action on an unprecedented scale and a dramatic reining in of the market forces that created and are deepening the crisis.

Goetzman then goes on to pull some fascinating quotes from conservative activists that equates climate change activists with communists and fascists - in those exact words.  Apparently, we're now called "watermelons" because we're "green on the outside but red on the inside."

Sheesh. Anyway, I won't get into name calling here, but I do think it's a fascinating discussion. Can we really tackle the massive, global issues at the root of society's unsustainability without acknowledging that some collective action is necessary?

I'd love to know what you think (both pro and con). Please leave a comment, or join in the conversation on Twitter (@jenniferwoofter).