by Patrick Quarberg
Climate produces a culture of environmental activism, a study by Linda H. Connor of the University of Sydney finds. Climate change gives way to a culture in which active citizen participation in protecting the environment is the norm. Arising initially out of necessity, the culture of protecting the environment could likely thrive until it is no longer required to exist. Environmentalism as we know it now will die out soon, and is different from the culture that Connor claims will develop.
She states that modern environmentalism is too disconnected from the everyday operations of the average citizen, and runs against the consumption society present in many places. Thus true environmentalism, in the modern sense, is nearly impossible to practice. Furthermore, Connor points out that current governments cannot perform the role of active citizens when it comes to the environment, as evidenced by the global hesitation on making carbon-reducing policies. Connor studied The Hunter Valley in New South Wales, Australia, an area with abundant black coal and seam gas. For this reason, the Hunter Valley is exposed to a lot of the effects of burning coal. It is also very susceptible to the effects of climate change, like rising sea levels and drought. Since the area stands to lose so much by standing by and allowing coal to be burned, it is a great place to encourage activist culture, Connor finds. As a result, people turn to local action groups, which they later say are part of their identity. One action group in the Hunter Valley area, Rising Tide, is very ambitious and active. It aims to find sustainable solutions to the current environmental crisis. Members of the action group cite environmental conservation as a major part of their self-identity, a change which has come about since joining the group. This passion among the members could certainly lead to the movement being very effective and long-lasting Connor also goes into detail on several other groups in the area to provide evidence for how widespread the effort is. In short, it seems that the activist culture formed out of necessity could certainly persist until the effects of climate change are mitigated—if they don’t destroy the earth first.
Connor, L. H. 2012. Experimental Publics: Activist Culture and Political Intelligibility of Climate Change Action in the Hunter Valley, Southeast Australia. Oceania. 82 volume 3 pp. 228-249.