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Environmental hypocrisy
by Thanos Kalamidas
2008-06-06 08:07:25
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I know, you were all expecting a full World Environment Day for Ovi magazine yesterday, but instead you got …Hugo Chavez and my usual cynicism. It’s not that we didn’t want to talk about it - we did and, of course, at least both of us, Asa and I, have written something for others but not for Ovi. Somehow we instinctually respond to the hypocrisy. You see, I never miss a chance to show my cynical side!

I’m sure over the last few weeks the people who write George W. Bush and Hu Jintao's speeches have spent every single minute of their life constructing the best ever speech; the one that will show how aware they are for the environment and how much they worry. I brought these two names as an example for a good reason, without meaning that the list is not huge. Most of the conservative parties around Europe have put adverts in the European press championing their interest in the environment and the adverts have photos of green fields and beautiful trees! That’s how they understand the environment.

In the beginning of the Ovi magazine while trying to sort out the sections, we somehow hit difficulties with the environment section. What are you putting in this section? How do you identify environmental issues? Fine, a nuclear plant and the nuclear waste is environmental, the destruction of the Arctic is an environmental issue but when it comes to Iran’s plans for a nuclear plant or the Bush obsession to dig Alaska what is it? Is it political or environmental? And then human and humanity, where do they stand? Isn’t humanity part of this environment and often responsible for all the problems in the environment? Perhaps a lot of you have already noticed that we don’t have a social section for example; that’s because we think that humans and their life is part of the environment.

Sometimes I have the feeling that some twisted marketing mind created the word 'environmental' to make us lose focus on what really is behind the environment and nature, and you end up with a political party that holds the major responsibility of environmental destruction coming out with an advert which has a photo of a tree and telling you that they care. It is like the husband who beats his wife to death and then brings her flowers to forgive him. That’s hypocrisy of the worst kind.

Perhaps they missed the point, when the Chernobyl accident happened it was not only the trees in the area that died it was humans that died and keep dying as well. If the icebergs in the North Pole melt please believe it, the people of London are in danger, that the temperature increases dramatically in Mediterranean causes population movements, Hurricane Katrina and the destruction of New Orleans was not a random natural event but it was a build-up of all the mistakes the American administrations and the greed of people did with the environment the last thirty years with George W. Bush’s administration standing on the top. In China, the government hides behind the sense of a huge, often desert continent, committing thousands of crimes that include nuclear waste to experimenting with genetically-engineered seeds with unknown impact on humans and the environment itself.

Most of the newspapers and magazines yesterday had trees, leaves and flowers for covers and I’m sure the father-monster in Austria was offering flowers to his imprisoned daughter for Mother’s Day! By the way, when the time came for us to write something for this case we included it in the environmental issues. Humanity is part of the environmental issues and anything that changes in the environment has an absolute impact in our everyday life, if you don’t believe me ask the survivors of the Burma cyclone!

I have said it before that there is nothing wrong with those international days and if it takes one day to make one more human aware of the problem then I support it all the way, but I cannot stand the intentional hypocrisy and the misleading on an issue that is a case of life and death!

So, for the ones who were looking for an environmental day yesterday in Ovi magazine with a tree on the cover I’m sorry and I hope they understand now why we didn’t do it. Much more I hope at least one can sense the hypocrisy behind the otherwise beautiful adverts we saw yesterday in all the media and think. Thinking and understanding is a good first step to be environmentally aware.

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Emanuel Paparella2008-06-06 10:10:24
The excerpt below on political ecology were uttered some twenty years ago by Ivan Illich at a conference on the environment in Japan. They seem to me even more relevant today and complement the above thoughts.

"'Commons' is an Old English word. It is a word which, in pre-industrial times, was used to designate certain aspects of the environment. People called commons those parts of the environment for which customary law exacted specific forms of community respect. People called commons that part of the environment which lay beyond their own thresholds and outside of their own possessions, to which, however, they had recognized claims of usage, not to produce commodities but to provide for the subsistence of their households. The customary law which humanized the environment by establishing the commons was usually unwritten. It was unwritten law not only because people did not care to write it down, but because what it protected was a reality much too complex to fit into paragraphs. The law of the commons regulates the right of way, the right to fish and to hunt, to graze, and to collect wood or medicinal plants in the forest.
An oak tree might be in the commons. Its shade, in summer, is reserved for the shepherd and his flock; its acorns are reserved for the pigs of the neighbouring peasants; its dry branches serve as fuel for the widows of the village; some of its fresh twigs in springtime are cut as ornaments for the church - and at sunset it might be the place for the village assembly. When people spoke about commons, they designated an aspect of the environment that was limited, that was necessary for the community's survival, that was necessary for different groups in different ways, but which, in a strictly economic sense, was not perceived as scarce. (continued below)

Emanuel Paparella2008-06-06 10:12:48
When today, in Europe, with university students I use the term "commons" (in German Almende or Gemeinheit, in Italian gli usi civici) my listeners immediately think of the eighteenth century. They think of those pastures in England on which villagers each kept a few sheep, and they think of the "enclosure of the pastures" which transformed the grassland from commons into a resource on which commercial flocks could be raised. Primarily, however, my students think of the innovation of poverty which came with enclosure: of the absolute impoverishment of the peasants, who were driven from the land and into wage labor, and they think of the commercial enrichment of the lords.In their immediate reaction, my students think of the rise of a new capitalist order. Facing that painful newness, they forget that enclosure also stands for something more basic. The enclosure of the commons inaugurates a new ecological order: Enclosure did not just physically transfer the control over grasslands from the peasants to the lord. Enclosure marked a radical change in the attitudes of society towards the environment. Before, in any juridical system, most of the environment had been considered as commons from which most people could draw most of their sustenance without needing to take recourse to the market. After enclosure, the environment became primarily a resource at the service of "enterprises" which, by organizing wage-labor, transformed nature into the goods and services on which the satisfaction of basic needs by consumers depends. This transformation is in the blind spot of political economy.

Alexandra Pereira2008-06-06 14:53:58
Yup, it seems that one of the greatest challenges that humanity has to face is a huge crisis in values. It doesn't matter your character, if you are an hypocrite or not, the consequences of your actions for the social whole... Inner dignity, respect for others and yourself as something that comes from you and not imposed by social shame, those seem to become more and more rare. Respect for all life, dignity, pride, inner value to value what and who surrounds you, those are the black gold of the future, not oil. Honesty instead of hypocrisy, humbleness in the place of self-destructive arrogance. Are those qualities in extinction? Let's preserve the environment and save them too, then.

Bird of Paradise2011-06-27 09:10:47
Enviromental hypotcrits includes AL GORE and the #1 eco-wacko hypotcrit

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