Nowadays, millennials see 16-years old Greta Thunberg as a leading environmental activist, being bold enough to point a finger at climate changes and the ongoing problems. But the history of fighting for a greener life and protecting the environment is quite old.
If you are not too young, you would remember presidential candidate Al Gore and his public campaign about global warming. He was even awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for it. Due to his current position in politics at the time, he made the movement quite popular. But he wasn’t the initiator of it, though.
The global environmental movement started in the 19th century. The European Coal Smoke Abatement Society was established back in 1898. It was one of the oldest environmental NGOs (non-governmental organizations), founded by Sir William Blake Richmond. The artist was frustrated with the pall cast by coal smoke and wanted to do something about it. On the other side of the globe, the movement in the United States began in the late 19th century. John Muir and Henry David Thoreau, concerned about the natural resources of the West, initiated it with some philosophical contributions. (Source: Wikipedia)
“16-year-old Greta Thunberg does not change environmental activism and she didn’t discover anything new. It started back in 1898.”
Since then, numerous movements have followed, wanting to preserve the flora and fauna around our blue planet. The mode of operation has not changed much during this time; only the scope of activities has increased.
POLITICAL VICTORY AND ENVIRONMENTAL STAMPEDE
According to history, I would say that the severe wave of environmental activism came with the work of Margaret Teacher. The President of the United Kingdom in the 1980s was also known as the Iron Lady.
At the time, the UK had serious pollution problems in the country due to diversified industry and coal use. She instructed her advisers to figure out the right formula for closing coal mines – but with massive public support. She expected a sharp response and opposing activities from the mining union and miners. Large strikes would paralyze the country so she needed people on her side.
A huge PR machine was activated. “Our ability to come together to stop or limit damage to the world’s environment will be perhaps the greatest test of how far we can act as a world community,” she said. This was a major industrial action to shut down the British coal industry in an attempt to prevent colliery closures.
As expected, the miners’ strike emerged in 1984-85.
“With a successful political public relations (PR) campaign, the ‘Iron Lady’ suppressed a major mining strike between 1984-85. She triggered global environmental activism at the highest level.”
The public supported the President Teacher. She won the battle and consequently laid the foundations for long-term and global environmental activism.
YES FOR ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVISM, NO FOR GIVING UP CONSUMERISM
While the oldest environmental organization, the Sierra Club with 3.8 million members, was formed as far back as 1892 in the United States, literally thousands of others followed: National Wildlife Federation (4 million members), World Wildlife Fund (1,2 million members), Greenpeace (2,5 million members), etc.
Organizations are generally–and commendably–committed to different activities in the field of environmental and animal protection. Some of them perform concrete activities, some lobby for legislative changes. Many of them raise awareness, other ones are dedicated to raising money for the cause, and so on.
Although we probably all know activism well, we focus mainly on the main culprit in environmental issues – the greenhouse gas CO2. Which is, as shown below, the biggest polluter. (Source: IPCC)
More and more knowledge, global connectivity–with the help of social networks–and the Internet has made us aware of the seriousness of global warming…and, above all, the origin of the problems. People are more connected and devoting their time to preserving nature than ever before. We are going in the right direction as we focus on the right problems.
The chart below shows how the fight against CO2 has become a mainstream factor in people’s overall decision-making. (Source: European Investment Bank/Statista, 2020)
Besides personal awareness about preserving the planet that is rising exponentially, big financial companies fight the pollution their way – by investing in nature (more) friendly industries and companies. A great demonstration of that is a letter that Larry Fink, the founder of BlackRock, “the world’s largest shadow bank” and largest asset manager (6.96 trillion dollars), has sent to other reputable CEOs. He announced that they will stop investing in companies that generate more than 25% of revenue from coal-based plants.
On the other hand, we don’t have adequate alternatives. Look around. Where are cold-fusion power plants? Antigravity vehicles? Super long-lasting batteries? Artificial organic materials? 100% recycled materials in all industries, etc.?
“While many people are loud about changing this or that, the biggest problem is finding concrete, solid, and workable solutions. There are not many of them going on right now…and we are not heading towards them, either.”
But this is just one side of the coin. Taking care of nature and supporting a clean environment? Yes, of course. Giving away some things…or even money? Well, yes – until there are no serious consequences following. Like, less comfort.
Would you, for example, give up some home appliances to preserve the planet? A washing machine? A dishwasher? A kitchen-range? Everything comes with a price. Even the greener planet, I suppose…
WE EMBRACED CONSUMERISM. NOW, WHAT?
There is one other thing called personal identity. People will not give up on consumerism as it is, most often, a reflection of social status. Also, most people simply do not have time to strike or actively fight for changes. These are, as research shows, the original causes of why things don’t change faster.
A recent study on the topic »Want Some Eco-Friendly Tips?« revealed a surprising answer. The response of the majority was: “Well, not really.”
The question remains. Is it possible to achieve significant environmental changes without much hard work and sacrifice? Could goodwill alone be enough? Generally – yes. People like to feel good about their activities. Especially if they can proudly tell their family members and friends that they have contributed to change.
But when comes to the deprivation of comfort, luxury, and coziness, many excuses and “reasons” emerge. Because giving away this stuff feels like giving away achievements that we have worked for so hard in the past. Are you ready for asceticism? For implementing a new personal identity based on minimalism and an almost zen-like life?
People are not ready to do activities, to change things. They might support the idea. But giving something up? “Once you tell people to sacrifice, deny, be noble, be pure, be vegan, it often triggers the opposite reaction in terms of consumer behavior,” Sarah McFarland Taylor, the author of Ecopiety: Green Media and the Dilemma of Environmental Virtue said.
“It seems that things could only improve by giving people–or preserving–what they want…without expecting much in return.”
What would be an ideal scenario to move things to a higher level? How about this: Let’s invent a system where the majority would like to participate, without doing anything. But they would still drastically reduce CO2 and even make some serious money. So they could brag to their friends about all the good things they have done for the environment while keeping quiet about the money they are making. How does this sound, huh?
Well, the joke aside, no one has ever succeeded to build this kind of reality. (But it would be fun to have it, right?) Nevertheless, an interesting and promising change is coming.
BLAME ME. I AM BAD FOR ENVIRONMENT, I DRIVE A CAR
I remember clearly the other day. I was watching TV with my family. In the documentary, people started exposing all the environmental problems that bother the worldwide population: the sea level is rising, the air is polluted, coral reefs are dying, animals extinct… “And it’s all the fault of baby boomers and previous generations,” the reporter concluded. My 10-years old daughter turned to me and asked: “Daddy, are you really to blame for all of this?” I felt a strong pain in my chests. During sweating for an hour, trying to explain to the child that “it’s not exactly like the man on TV said”, I tried to convince her that things are getting better. We’re working hard on changes to save the planet. “No, sweety, our generation is trying to correct the problem, you see…”
But I felt a little guilty for the next day as well. I was thinking about how much do I really contribute to polluting the planet. Well, it started in the morning by driving to work. I have to get there somehow. And my car runs on petrol. Can you blame it? Driving for lunch in the middle of the day… And long drive to the distant location for an interview in the afternoon. I mean, how else could I get there if not by car? No buses or trains are going there at the time. And I was in a hurry, of course.
“It seems that embracing environmental activism would degrade or undermine the essence of our hard-earned social status.”
So I am, obviously, one of them – the ones who can’t just give up the “luxury” (of a car). No matter how much CO2 emissions it produces. But – if there was some way to significantly contribute a change without sacrificing modern life…
FINALLY, AN ACTIVE ENVIRONMENTAL GAME CHANGER: THE INTELLIGENT MOVEMENT WE4NEXT
Not so long ago, I stumbled upon one announcement that could be a turning point for the industry on a global scale. A friend told me about this movement called We4Next. The first thought that came to me was: smart activism! Namely, the movement doesn’t require you to change. You can just support an innovative, green idea – and become a role model of an environmental care-taker. How cool is that?
Further on, this is not some hippie community, based on wishful thinking. Behind the movement lies a real mathematical, extremely advanced logic that eliminates the guesswork. It is an active environment-protection system created by visionaries, intellectuals, industrialists, philanthropists, and lovers of a better future.
The main idea is like this. The individual can contribute to intelligently reducing global warming without giving up his luxury life. Goodwill and some explicit activities–to lead by example–would be enough. Following the main idea, a supporter would gradually become personally carbon neutral. For everything else, a system in the background, an algorithm, takes care of.
“We4Next is the next generation of green movements. A smart link to a specific, carefully selected industry is being prepared In the background. It will be exclusively dedicated to global change and self-sufficient community programs.”
This seems to be a smart solution for joining the industry of the future, which, with its advanced technological solutions, transparently and actively reduces the level of greenhouse gas CO2.
The volume of greenhouse gas reductions would be intelligently integrated into the community and supporters could become environmentalists–with no special work or sacrificing anything–and part of this big story. A story that could be proudly told to their children and grandchildren…
We will be happy to reveal exactly what the smart system will look like and when it will start. It is coming in one of the upcoming articles so stay tuned.