Wednesday, October 15, 2008

On walking and chewing gum

For a number of reasons, environmental issues have enjoyed a central place in policy debates and decisions, elections, business, and the public consciousness for the last few years. With troubling economic changes afoot, particularly in the financial and housing sectors, will the environment again retire to obscurity? Should leaders and communities shift their focus away from environmental issues?


Pat Jenkins said...

very insightfull erd the "issue" has fallen of the radar, so it begs the question why? ...

E. R. Dunhill said...

I think there a number of ways to look at this:
First, the media are simply writing less about the environment, because the economic crisis is newer and in some respects in greater need of immediate action. The economy is not a more important problem, indeed it is intrinsically linked to the environment, but it does work on a different timescale than many environmental problems.
Second, "bandwagon people" can only ride one bandwagon at a time. They talk a good bit about problems and a little about solutions, but actually accomplish litte. And, of course, they'll be back when something happens to remind them about why this is important.
Third, environmental problems aren't really any less severe than they were 3 months ago, and those of us who are legitimately invested in solutions haven't stopped what we're doing to fix them. However, the news media are talking about us less, and the bandwagon people (who had briefly been half-heartedly trying to help) have gone away, so it looks like environmental issues are less prominent.
But, they'll be back. Sooner or later, they always come back, because this is a hugely important set of issues.