Green localism can secure environmental change, new book argues

by Search Gate staff. Published Wed 05 Oct 2011 12:29
New books examines how to re-engage the public on green issues

A new book argues that ‘green localism’ can convince people to embrace action to secure environmental change.

They say that in an age of fiscal austerity, resource scarcity and climate change, a greater focus on grass-roots movements could re-engage a public that is sometimes disinterested and suspicious of environmental issues.

Environmentalism Since 1945 by Dr Gary Haq and Alistair Paul of the University of York’s Stockholm Environment Institute, charts how green issues have influenced politics, economy, science and culture in the post-war period.

The belief that the environment should be championed, looked after and protected has become widely accepted by nearly all aspects of society as the global speed and scale of resource use and environmental destruction has been recognized and understood.

Dr Gary Haq, lead author, said: “As western standards of living have increased, basic material needs have been met, and people have demanded higher standards of environmental quality. The widely expressed assumption that ‘green’ is good can lead us to conclude that we are all environmentalists now. “

He adds: “Today green issues influence the language and decisions of government, corporations and individuals to an extent that was not possible or imaginable a century ago.

“Politicians promise to protect the environment, companies market their products as environmentally friendly, celebrities promote environmental causes and individuals aspire to green lifestyles.”

Since the 1960s major studies have highlighted the deteriorating state of the planet yet environmental concern has not been sufficiently translated into action especially when it requires curtailing modern lifestyle choices and challenges current growth models.

This year marks the fortieth anniversaries of Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace and the fiftieth anniversary of the World Wide Fund for Nature. As the environmental movement reaches middle age, it is coming under increasing criticism for being out of touch, set in its ways, unable to change, bureaucratic and ineffective.

The authors conclude that empowering community groups, strengthening community bonds working in partnership with local authorities and businesses, local groups could deliver multiple social and environmental benefits. This would enable local communities to tackle climate change, improve health and well being, securing a healthy natural environment and making them safer and strong.

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