I’m sitting on the deck of my room at the Northern Queen Inn in Nevada City, California, on a gorgeous spring day. I’m loving the sound of the waterfall and stream just below this deck, but I’m having a hard time focusing on it as there’s a highway just above us. I’d love it if the sound of running water were enough to drown out the speeding trucks and cars, but it seems to be my nature to focus on the annoying noise instead of the soothing.
This same thing happened to me as I caught up on all my reading during the recent snowy weekend back home in Boulder. First I read an article in my favorite newsweekly, The Week titled “Why Green has Gone Out of Fashion.” The article cited a bunch of publications, from USA Today to The Economist, that have picked up on Michael Shellenberger and Ted Norhaus’s controversial paper, “The Death of Environmentalism,” which declares the movement as it stands irrelevant.
I had just finished reading one of the articles cited in The Week’s recap, “The Environment’s New Bling,” in the Boston Globe. And while the author, Grist.org editor Chip Giller, did start out by deriding the environmental movement’s “Chicken Little scare tactics and doomsday prophesying,” he went on to point out that “when we turn away from the D.C.-centric public face of the environmental movement, a very different picture emerges.” Yuppies are walking and taking public transit in dense urban neighborhoods, buying shares in Community Supported Agriculture, and trading in SUVs for minis and Priuses. Giller goes on to declare sustainability the new bling, the new self-reliance, the new dream, the new bottom line. “Environmentalism as a narrowly focused D.C. lobby might be struggling,” he concludes, “but a common-sense conviction that sustainability is integral to our quality of life and our economic competitiveness is on the rise.”
Amen. And you know, with just a slight change in perspective I’m finding it pretty easy to focus on the sound of that waterfall.