Environmentalism, Conservation, and Sustainability:
Part I: Environmentalism: The Good and Sometimes Unreasonable

 There is a lot of discussion about environmentalism and sustainability, but they must be weighed against the necessity for our population to have a livelihood to support and feed their families. While the protection of nature and wildlife is crucial, we can't ignore that we need to take care of our humans too.

Granted, environmentalism and conservation play a key role in making sure that human life continues in areas where there are already minimal resources and deteriorating habitats. Some people manage to fight for both causes simultaneously.

The environmental movement is often divided between environmentalism, conservation, sustainability, and the reality of the need for human livelihoods. Each part has its own goals, beliefs, needs, advantages, and limitations.


The environmental movement can be considered as two main parts: environmentalism and conservation. Environmentalism is the belief that humans are destroying their environment through pollution, deforestation, habitat destruction, and other environmental damage factors., including being the major force in climate change. This environmentalism calls for environmental protection policies to reduce environmental harm.

Humans once thought that they were separate from nature and did not need to respect it as an integral part of their lives. This was a grave mistake that led to mass destruction of habitats and the extinction of many species.  Because of this environmentalism came about which held the position that humans are intruders that should look at the land, not develop, and that nature is sacred.  Environmentalists have traditionally opposed all but very limited nature tourism, timber cutting, and the damning of water supplies for electricity and flood control.  Traditional environmentalists sometimes slough off the need for humans to sustain themselves reasonably through the use of our natural resources that generate a livelihood, in favor of environmental action at any cost. 

Environmentalists sometimes lack a concrete way of measuring success in environmentalism. For example, if an environmental activist stops a dam from being built, but does nothing else to improve public land or habitat protection, has he or she helped the environment?  If a policy is enacted, that lessens the harm on one aspect of the environment, has it created another problem due to the “law of unintended consequence?”  Or has it created devastation for a whole populous of people.  Encouraging the development of a new energy source, because using fossil fuels is considered bad, often gives us more severe environmental issues in the production and disposal of these alternative forms. Environmentalism has unfortunately gone at times in the direction of environmental terrorism, for example, setting fire to an entire Hummer dealership because Hummers guzzle a lot of gas. Environmental protests at time become violent and counterproductive. Some extreme environmentalists want to depopulate the Earth by 90%, as they view these people are just eaters who will destroy it.  Obviously, they feel they are part of the 10% who should be left alive.

This in no way means that environmentalism is bad. Environmentalism and action to preserve our planet is crucial.  It is just when humans become involved, often things turn selfish, stupid, and all about power.  These days the words environmentalism and conservation are often used interchangeably.   In my opinion, conservation is the kinder gentler form of environmentalism that seeks to protect our planet, wildlife, and the humans that reside there.  

September 13, 2023 — Debby McKnight