Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Environmental Agitprop

There has been a distinct lack of posts from me lately. I'd like to say I had a legitimate excuse, but the real reason was that I decided to use my spare time over the past month and a half to replay through the first two installments of the Mass Effect series, in anticipation of the new release this past month. I also spent the entirety of the last two weekends in a mild depression because of how bad the ending to that one was. Totally killed the replay value there. Oh well.

In an attempt to redeem myself, I will try to return to my usual subjects. One of the organizations that I've been reading a lot of press on these days is the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). On the face of it, it seems like an NGO I ought to really get behind on most issues. I consider myself an environmentalist, broadly agree with many goals of the environmental movement - especially in relation to climate change issues, emissions regulation, and long-term energy development - with the sole exception of nuclear power, which seems to have split environmentalists every which way. Although the NRDC has an anti-nuclear power stance, which I've blogged about before, that issue alone shouldn't stop people who hold my views from working with the NRDC.

Alas, I've found objective reasons to not support the organization.

The Dangers of Imperial Thinking

It takes a special brand of self-flagellating bastard to go through the comments section of any article on China in any respected international publication. Filtering through the toxic dross formed by mixing xenophobic bile and the fifty cent party (not that those are mutually exclusive) is a task best accomplished with a plate of saltine crackers and tums. Simply tuning out, however, is something that I have not yet brought myself to do. Any way you look at it, reading what the other side puts out gives you some inkling of their thought process.

In this case, the "other side" means "anyone who is willing to spew vitriol on China," one way or another. One surprising observation I have taken from either side of the debate (pro- or anti-China) is the prevalence of a mode of thought that I'd believed extinct. Harking back to the international relations of the 19th century, many people - the pro-Chinese especially, but others as well - couch their debates in terms of Great Power clashes and Imperialism. This type of thinking is not only simplistic, it is outright bad for international discourse.