Our Environmentalist Roots
In the 1970s, the United States of America was going through a period of major political turmoil as President Nixon was caught trying to cover up the nefarious activities of his re-election campaign. His people broke into the Democrat’s headquarters to find dirt on the candidates they were running in the primaries and national elections. Nixon resigned in embarrassment, and interestingly enough, so did his Vice President Agnew. Sadly, while Richard Nixon was corrupt, problematic, egregiously racist and craven in his obsession with retaining power, the very few good things he did as President was obfuscated by the antics that lead to his resignation.
Nixon actually oversaw the passage of several important pieces of environmental legislation under the guise of the Republican Party’s priorities at the time. In the 1970s and before, the passage in the Christian Bible that says, “Man shall have dominion over the earth” was interpreted differently than we think of it nowadays. “Dominion” in this context was thought to be stewardship, caring and love so that the planet can be used and beloved by future generations. Consequently, the same party that had just lost all its African-American voters after refusing to support the Civil Rights Movement was trying to regain voters by being the “green” and environmentally friendly party. You can always learn more about this part of environmental history online.
Corporations Take Over
However, capitalist greed has overrun both sides of our two-party system, and the Republican Party has seen the most massive impact on their worldview. The same party that opposed Civil Rights but supported environmentalism now opposes both concepts. The same Christianity that fueled the concept of stewardship over the earth has now been cannibalized by right-wing people who are more obsessed with controlling women’s bodies than actually providing the children that women might give birth to with beautiful earth to live on. They simply do not care, and thus, we need environmental protections to exist within the law.
These laws are compliance laws, and they are forcing companies to care about the environmental impact they have on the planet. Think of the Greenpeace movement in the 1980s and 1990s and the United Colors of Benetton ads that dotted our advertising landscape. We were encouraged to reuse, recycle and repair everything we possibly could, and the concept of a “carbon footprint” became a normal part of our daily colloquial word usage. Therefore, the major burden of environmentalism (https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/environmentalism) became a personal and individual issue with corporations no longer being held to account for their toxic actions. They compelled us to simply look the other way.
When we think about the mess that these massive companies engaged in, their actions are worse than any human being could commit in a lifetime. While we consider reducing our carbon footprints by not having children who will grow up to litter and consume resources, these companies have continued to dump toxic chemicals into our earth and atmosphere at an unrelenting pace. They want us to be the ones who take into account the way our actions impact the world’s atmosphere by avoiding chlorofluorocarbons, and in the end, we are the ones slathering our skin with sunscreen. We are doing this because the hole in the ozone layer is so big that we are being exposed to UV sun rays at unprecedented rates.
Whose fault is that? Certainly not ours, as we are not responsible for the trillions of cubic tons of toxic chemicals and fumes that corporations litter the earth with. By using these chemical processes, they save money and time in delivering various goods to us, specifically plastics. But what is the cost? We inadvertently consume more plastics than ever before in history, and our pollution has been found at the lowest depths of the ocean, making our submarine neighbors choke and die on our waste products and mess.
The Solutions We Need
This is why companies pay for the kinds of energy compliance solutions that will help them be better stewards of the earth around them. We cannot rely on companies to self-regulate, as history has shown that companies will instead find ways to continue to litter and poison the earth around them. Instead, we are forced to create and maintain laws that compel these companies into some sort of compliance with energy codes that make them use less energy and create less waste. Bitcoin farming, for example, is using tons of energy to create more links on the blockchain that people claim to need so much that the use of energy is worth it.
But is it worth it, if the earth is suffering as a result of our actions? What will the earth be like for future generations if we continue to have lax regulations and compliance requirements? There are some states in the United States that have very high standards for energy compliance, while others have extremely mild requirements, perhaps thinking that we will not notice. We do notice, and we are deeply concerned about the lackadaisical approach that many states are taking, opting to instead be bought off by these massive corporations. By lining pockets and greasing palms, corporations are able to donate to the most corrupt Republican and/or right-wing politicians to achieve their unseemly goals.
The word “conservative” should indicate that someone cares about tradition, heritage, preservation and most importantly, conservation. But do conservatives in America care about conservation, or making money? It seems fairly obvious that in a country that regularly puts profits over the needs of regular people, the focus would be entirely on generating funds instead of thinking about the money that future generations will be forced to spend in order to clean up the inhospitable earth we have left in our wake.