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Thread: Perceptions of environmentalists

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    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    Perceptions of environmentalists

    As an urban planner, I'm generally sympathetic to environmental causes, provided that there is a well-reasoned, scientific basis for the alleged environmental threat, not just some nimbys cooking up b.s. to prevent some unwanted land use. I would even consider myself an environmentalist, but I'm hesitant to do so publicly because I sense that most people view environmentalists as being extremist and having unreasonable views, and even anti-establishment behaviors and lifestyles. This popular perception is reinforced when the media reports on enviro-wackos in the Pacific Northwest burning down new subdivisions and chaining themselves to trees. Or when some environmental concerns are perceived to go overboard, such as the million-dollar lawsuit to prevent a project that may harm some species/habitat that is deemed insignificant to 95% of the population. And of course there is the nasty "tree-hugger" stereotype of environmentalists as dirty, long-haired, petrulli-oil wearing, head-in-the-clouds-pot-smokers.

    I'm wondering what your general perceptions are of environmentalists and how you think they equate with popular impressions. What defines someone as an environmentalist- work, political views, public behaviors, etc? How have you interacted professionally with environmentalists as an urban planner?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Random Traffic Guy's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by hilldweller View post
    . Or when some environmental concerns are perceived to go overboard, such as the million-dollar lawsuit to prevent a project that may harm some species/habitat that is deemed insignificant to 95% of the population. And of course there is the nasty "tree-hugger" stereotype of environmentalists as dirty, long-haired, petrulli-oil wearing, head-in-the-clouds-pot-smokers.
    Don't forget the "Watermelon" type, socialist/communist/anticapitalist goals wrapped in a green facade for more public acceptance.

    I would also call myself an environmentalist if not for the negative stereotypes. I seek to be a good steward of my land and try to encourage and educate others in the same direction. But morally I cannot and should not force them to do anything.

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    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Well, when I'm not introducing myself as a Pinko Commie, I consider myself an environmentalist. However, I never use that term to describe myself because it is so open-ended and carries a good bit of baggage from people that have either hijacked the message (NIMBYs & Watermelons) or taken things way to far (ELF, etc.).

    I consider myself a supporter of sustainable living, which in my world includes economic sustainability in addition to the better publicized social and environmental aspects. DuPont I believe used to say "Better Living Through Chemistry". Well, I'm on the side of "Better Living Through Nature".


    Traditional environmentalists kind of hack me off, because their message has always been "save the environment for the sake of saving the environment". This artificially limited the people they could reach. If they would have gotten on the bandwagon long ago in emphasizing the many economic advantages of living in harmony with nature, such as improved quality of life, new jobs to replace the dirty industry jobs lost, savings from spending less on fuel/energy, product packaging, etc., then they might have gotten further with their goals of preserving the environment. John Q. Working Class may not care about the future of the Golden-cheeked Warbler, but he will be interested in saving money and new jobs. For example, Ducks Unlimited and the Coastal Conservation Association support habitat restoration, etc., but not because they have some urge to save the planet.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

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    Cyburbian Plan-it's avatar
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    I would consider myself a believer in sustainable development (which includes both environmental conservation and economic development). If I were to put a term on it I would call myself a conservationalist more so than an environmentalist. I think the term visualizes my belief system more so than environmentalist.

    On a slight side note, the radical left has injured the reputation of those concerned about the environment just as other radical center has injured the limited government crowd and the radical right has injured social conscious voters.
    Satellite City Enabler

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    Cyburbian ofos's avatar
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    I look at radical ENVIRONMENTALISTS like I look at the ACLU. Their primary purpose is to keep the opposite end of the spectrum enraged/engaged so some folks in the middle can actually accomplish the work that needs to be done.
    “Death comes when memories of the past exceed the vision for the future.”

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    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Random Traffic Guy View post
    Don't forget the "Watermelon" type, socialist/communist/anticapitalist goals wrapped in a green facade for more public acceptance.
    Sounds like a couple of professors I had in college...

    Losers.

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    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    I'm probably the only one that's smiles a bit inside when the ELF and other extremist groups act up. I like it when the status quo gets shaken up a bit.

    Damn, here come the black helicopters again...

    While sympathetic to their cause, I find a lot of extreme environmentalists to be very annoying.
    Plus, I am subscribing ever more to the school that the Earth is a self regulating being, capable of fighting us off when needed. (Check out the George Carlin routine on my MySpace page for something along the same lines). Mother Earth will get pissed off at us and eradicate us like we eradicate infections with anti-biotics. Just you watch.

    In the meantime, I'll head to the rink when it is 100 degrees out... and try not to think about the cooling costs that day...
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

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    Cyburbian Random Traffic Guy's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by zmanPLAN View post
    Plus, I am subscribing ever more to the school that the Earth is a self regulating being, capable of fighting us off when needed.
    Alot of civil engineering is indeed defending against nature. It's been the challenge since the first protohumaniod discovered that the cave kept the rain off. Build that wall to keep the water back or in, buiild that roof for shelter, build that arch to fight gravity, etc. Left to nature, so much of human improvements vanishes pretty quickly with the effects of water, sun, ice, etc. Buildings rot and fall, roads fall apart and become absorbed by vegetation. Plastics and radioactives have changed the equation a little but not in geologic time scales.

    Quote Originally posted by zmanPLAN View post
    In the meantime, I'll head to the rink when it is 100 degrees out... and try not to think about the cooling costs that day...
    Relax, o eco-consious one, it is more efficient to cool to human-comfortable levels in summer than heat in winter. Move south

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    We are having rabid debates in our county about shielding/modifying coastal lights so that sea turtle hatchlings do not become disoriented. It has been successfully done in many other FL counties, for many years. But these yahoos.... sheesh, you would think every business owner on the beach was an in-bred specimen with an IQ of 25. It's all about the $$. Modifying their lighting is just not that big a deal. And what fries me is their idiot letters to the editor saying that tourism is more important than wildlife. It's way weirder than anything I went thru in central FL.

    And that is where my "environmentalist" gene kicks in.

    On the other hand, I have had to deal with insane (but very nice) people from the Sierra Club who are so fixated on one issue that they cannot even consider a small negotiation which could possibly accommodate everyone. That kind of thing moves me over towards the property rights side.

    But on the whole, I guess I'm an environmentalist.

    As for how the activists are viewed, it sure varies from region to region.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Richmond Jake's avatar
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    I can get behind the save the bald eagle and manatee groups.

    But the three toed Santa Cruz salamander and the snail darter? At some point, you give to get.



    BTW, my degree is in Environmental Studies and Planning.
    Annoyingly insensitive

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    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
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    I also subscribe to the line that reasoned, rational conservationists are the ones that will achieve things that really are for the common good, while the enviro-wacko crowd, including knee-jerk NIMBYs and the 'watermelons' (I had never heard that one before, but I like it) gives anyone whom is honestly concerned about real environmental issues a bad name. These include hypocritical types like a politician whom is all gung-ho about 'renewable' energy sources - yet will unleash as much legal might is as humanly possibly in opposition when someone proposes to build a windmill farm in the ocean well off shore of his oceanfront house as well as those whom are emotionally selling junk science for no other reason than to further their unrelated, often radical political agendas and goals (closely related to the 'watermelons').

    "DON'T DO IT!" won't fly with me, "do it RIGHT" will.

    Mike

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    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    Yeah, I'm often afraid to admit that I do stuff that benefits the environment, that I do environmental stuff as part of my job, or even that I want to be a city planner, especially when talking to other Republicans, because of the bad rap that environmentalists get as being too extremist, anti-business, etc. So then I gotta remind people that Teddy Roosevelt was a conservation guy, that Ted Nugent hunts because he cares about the enviornment and the over-population of species, etc.
    "Life's a journey, not a destination"
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  13. #13
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    I couple of people have commented on Random Traffic Guy & my reference to "Watermelon" environmentalists. Given that he & I were the only ones that used it, and we're both from Texas, I have to wonder if maybe this is a Texas term.


    Watermelon = green on the outside, pinko commie on the inside.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  14. #14
    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by hilldweller View post
    I would even consider myself an environmentalist, but I'm hesitant to do so publicly because I sense that most people view environmentalists as being extremist and having unreasonable views, and even anti-establishment behaviors and lifestyles. This popular perception is reinforced when the media reports on enviro-wackos in the Pacific Northwest burning down new subdivisions and chaining themselves to trees. Or when some environmental concerns are perceived to go overboard, such as the million-dollar lawsuit to prevent a project that may harm some species/habitat that is deemed insignificant to 95% of the population. And of course there is the nasty "tree-hugger" stereotype of environmentalists as dirty, long-haired, petrulli-oil wearing, head-in-the-clouds-pot-smokers.
    In Austin, Texas, that is by and large a good definition and description of the environmentalist crowd.

    Quote Originally posted by Suburb Repairman View post
    Traditional environmentalists kind of hack me off, because their message has always been "save the environment for the sake of saving the environment". This artificially limited the people they could reach. If they would have gotten on the bandwagon long ago in emphasizing the many economic advantages of living in harmony with nature, such as improved quality of life, new jobs to replace the dirty industry jobs lost, savings from spending less on fuel/energy, product packaging, etc., then they might have gotten further with their goals of preserving the environment. John Q. Working Class may not care about the future of the Golden-cheeked Warbler, but he will be interested in saving money and new jobs. For example, Ducks Unlimited and the Coastal Conservation Association support habitat restoration, etc., but not because they have some urge to save the planet.
    Very well put, my friend.

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