by Christina Ospina, ’12
Being “green” is one of the sexiest trends that has arisen in the past several years, made popular largely by increasing concerns over Climate Change. People want to buy clothes made from organic cotton, use biodegradable laundry detergent, eat free-range chicken, invest in solar energy, and protest to save polar bears. But we must ask: who are the people behind this movement? Realistically, someone struggling to pay rent might not feel compelled to invest in solar power to avoid using electricity generated from coal-fired plants. Today, the American environmentalist movement’s biggest challenge isn’t Climate Change, it isn’t over-fishing, it’s not rainforest degradation, and it’s not it industrialized agriculture; the main obstacle the environmentalism faces is transforming into a movement for all socio-economic levels. Environmentalism shouldn’t be a movement for the privileged, it should be integrated in all levels and all communities that comprise the American population.
Historically, lower classes and minorities have been left out or overlooked in American environmental and conservation movements. Just look back at the emergence of conservation with the Romantic movement in the mid 1800s, with influential figures such as Roosevelt, Muir and Thoreau, who evoked imagery of the sublime in their writing and praised the powerful beauty of wilderness. Continue reading