In 2006, Derrick Jensen told the story of the original Star Wars, as if it had been written by environmentalists. A comedy spoof of course, his video nonetheless makes some serious points about the environmental movement and its weaknesses and flaws. Youth Policy has asked two members of the environmental movement – Luke Kemp and Dan Glass – for their reactions and thoughts on the video and it’s critique of environmentalists.

In 2006, Derrick Jensen addressed a peak oil conference called “Community Solutions” in New York. There he told the story of the original Star Wars, written by environmentalists. A comedy spoof of course, his video nonetheless makes some serious points about the environmental movement. Jensen suggests the environmental movement is fractious and unable to work together, using clichéd and pointless tactics like sending “wave after wave of loving kindness”.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6Vc6oc8v_s&w=420&h=236]

/environment has asked two members of the environmental movement for their response.

  • Dan Glass is a renowned environmental activist, probably best known for supergluing himself to Gordon Brown in 2008.
  • Luke Kemp is an PhD candidate at the Australian National University, writing a thesis on institutional reform of international environmental governance.

Dan Glass

 

“We shall be our own worst enemies if we don’t create a big battle-plan where we accept that, despite differences of process, the end goal, of environmental sanity and human dignity, is the same for most people.”

Dan Glass is an award winning activist, performer and writer, working with communities on the front-lines of economic, social and racial justice. He is the founder of The Glass Is Half Full.


The video has truth in saying that the environmental movement uses some ineffective tactics – what have now become clichéd tactics can sometimes verge on laughable in the face of the climate calamity and the continued industrial exploitation we witness.

It’s also true that often different groups within this so called ‘environmental movement’ is fractious and unable to work together – as Jensen says there is a splintering of radical rebels from the ‘mainstream rebels’, “And in a brilliant and brave touch of authenticity, the rebels are never able to come to consensus.”

With this in mind I have to emphasise that we stick to seeing the bigger picture.

Movements for justice may be splintered sometimes, but if we’re going to overcome the threat of climate change, we’re going to need all different approaches and tactics (a full arsenal of weapons, if you will), by all different demographics and groups, some of whom can’t even imagining work together.

Whether you’re involved in militant environmental insurgency, consensus decision-making, coalition building or signing online petitions we must build empathy amongst our intentions.

Read Dan’s full post here.


Luke Kemp_Profile

 

“We need to present ourselves as the new generation of environmentalists- intelligent, professional and persuasive.”

Luke is a PhD Candidate at the Australian National University and Research Fellow with the Earth System Governance Project.


While we all had a good laugh from the Star Wars by Environmentalists skit, it raises a number of disturbingly accurate points.

We need to fit our tools to the problem at hand.  Activism and civil mobilisation can be very useful tools at a domestic level, but their power in the corridors of negotiations is severely limited. We simply cannot have our business as usual approach of having myriad organisations go about their own projects in a mangled web of protests, letters and rhetoric.

Moreover we need to be aware of how our actions affect our image.  We need to present ourselves as the new generation of environmentalists- intelligent, professional and persuasive.  Credibility is a scarce resource, yet I fear we often act without any thought for it.

Diversity can be valuable, but it cannot be used as an excuse for fragmentation, a wasting of credibility or employment of ineffective tactics and strategy.

Read Luke’s full post here.

Written by Ellie Hopkins

Ellie Hopkins

Ellie is a multi-award winning campaigner on issues ranging from education to mental health and nuclear disarmament. In recent years Ellie has focused on climate change, working with young people as a trainer, campaigner and as Director of the UK Youth Climate Coalition. With an academic background in international development, Ellie is the Youth Policy Labs' chief campaigner.