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On Giving Up

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English environmentalist Paul Kingsnorth is infuriating. He’s fought for environmental causes for 20 years and now he is totally giving up and saying that fighting against climate change is pointless so let’s just accept the earth’s impending destruction. To me, this is a prime example of the problem with an environmentalism that isn’t fundamentally about protecting people and integrating everyday people into your concerns. It’s not that Kingsnorth is wrong about the way we are going as a planet. But thinking of climate change as a tipping point is less useful than a sliding scale. What he does not seem to care much about (at least from this article) is environmental justice. Let’s take one issue. The hotter things get, the more cockroaches will develop in substandard urban housing and the higher asthma rates for the people of color who are forced to live in such places. Part of environmentalism should also be seeking justice for these people, pushing for policies that might not be enacted in time to save most frog species but that might save human lives (and possibly some frog species too). Things can get better or they can just continue getting worse and even if the Earth loses half of its species in the next century, it could lose 90% of species if people quit fighting and just go into mourning instead of seeking to work toward change.

Giving up is just self-centered nihilism.

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