Blog /Don't Be On My Side, You're Making My Side Look Stupid

July 11, 2012 20:54 +0000  |  Activism Economy Environment 0

This is going to be a ranting post, so you may want to skip it if that sort of thing isn't your cup of tea.

I went to a meetup tonight called CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) Amsterdam, a new group started here making efforts to build a community to encourage social responsibility here in the city. The guest speaker was Kumi Naidoo, executive director and "chief troublemaker" of Greenpeace International, and his talk was, for the most part, both informative and interesting -- but something rubbed me the wrong way, and I need to rant about it.

Naidoo claims that the world is suffering from a great imbalance: the rich European countries, he said, spend more on feeding their pets in a week than is required to feed an African family for a month. Here in the Netherlands, we subsidise cows to the tune of something like €2/person/month, and yet such a large portion of the world still doesn't have access to electricity. Both of these statements are true, but they're both completely irrelevant to the cause of environmentalism and only serve to alienate rational people from it.

This isn't just about the fact that the world is not going to be fixed by making people feel guilty for feeding their pets. It's about Greenpeace painting the entire environmental movement as a bunch of out of touch hippies driven by irrational guilt to redistribute wealth from stable, richer nations to less stable, poorer ones. Statements like these imply that there are simple answers to the complex problems of militarism, corruption, unstable regimes, and corporate influence, instead framing everything as if we should all feel guilty for having pets.

There's nothing wrong with managing the welfare of your citizens by using their collective wealth to secure a supply of meat and dairy. Having pets and buying frivolous things, while not exactly constructive for the betterment of humanity, isn't the source of the problem. If Greenpeace really wanted to go after this imbalance, they'd do better to go after corporations (and those who buy from them) that pillage poorer nations, like precious metal mining companies in South America and Africa, but now that he's already blamed pet owners and milk drinkers for the ills of the world, he's lost half the room.

Seriously people, stop it. It's hard enough being an environmentalist in this world, I don't need help like this.


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