I guess I’m past the point of taking essays like Steven Cohen’s “The Culture of Environmentalism and Sustainability” at the Huffington Post at face value. Yes, we are all environmentalists now. We cringe when someone throws trash out of a car window. I’m old enough to remember my dad tossing cigarette butts out the car window without a second thought and us kids yelling at him not to do it. He probably felt like the schools were brainwashing his kids.
But Cohen’s article makes some dishonest, or at least disingenuous, claims:
1. The conflict between Gallup and other surveys he mentions plainly reveals Millennials have learned to repeat the platitudes of political correctness in order to fit in or avoid being penalized by people in positions of authority, but in their own lives they make choices that show they don’t believe them.
Simple observation confirms this. For example, they say they “believe” in global warming and other environmental crises, but they won’t hesitate to jump on a plane and fly half-way around the world for summer break. I read the polls as saying Millennials are more cynical, more materialistic (do you see how much clothes they have, the debt they accumulate?), and less honest with themselves and with others than any prior generation. Other polls show they are much more willing to lie than previous generations were at the same age… doesn’t that tell you something about the reliability of Gallup polls?
2. Saying modern environmentalism is “a key part of the cultural shift” away from “racism, sexism, xenophobia and homophobia” is name-calling. People who oppose the radical views of Earth First and Greenpeace are, by this logic, racists, sexists, xenophobic, and homophobic. Al Gore said basically the same thing at the end of a recent TED lecture on climate change.
Cohen says “these social changes create a nearly irresistible force for political change,” trying to portray the embrace of radical environmentalism as inevitable. Consultants and liberal advocates repeatedly tell Republican elected officials and candidates that in order to win future elections, they have to embrace global warming alarmism, just as they need to embrace affirmative action, unisex bathrooms and showers, Muslim immigration, and abortion. This is nonsense, first because the majority of Americans don’t buy Obama’s vision of America, and second because the case for action to reduce our use of fossil fuels should rise or fall based on climate science and resource economics, not on how it “fits” into someone’s notion of modernity.
I find this guilt-by-association language terribly offensive, demeaning to young people, and feel like demanding an apology. I am not a racist, sexist, xenophobic, or homophobic. How dare he imply otherwise? How dare he say “the science doesn’t matter… because environmentalism is inevitable.” Does he think we are stupid?
3. Folks who don’t watch much TV – and many of us have stopped or cut back in recent years — might not “get” Cohen’s reference to how “our TV images of family have changed from Ozzie and Harriet to the Cosbys to Modern Family.” I’m pretty sure 90% or more of Americans don’t watch “Modern Family,” and many of them/us avoid it primarily because it aggressively promotes a gay lifestyle. The author may wish this TV show reflects the wider public’s changing views of family, but the fact that it airs on TV only provides evidence of how complete the left’s control over Hollywood has become.
4. Finally, this statement is just outrageous and wrong:
“The notion of progress and improvement is being replaced by the more conservative sentiment to retain or sustain what we have.”
No doubt Steven Cohen — who is in his 40th year now as an academic (having been a “Ford Foundation Fellow in Urban Environmental Policy” in 1976) and probably makes over $1 million a year with multiple university and nonprofit appointments and pensions — is satisfied with what he’s got and mostly concerned with keeping it. It’s difficult for him to imagine, while driving a Beamer and dining in the best cafes of Paris, why others still strive to improve their place in the world. But how offensive, once again, to pretend to speak for me and others!