Elitism, greenwash and conservation
Sometimes one comes across writing which is truly bizarre and it's hard to know how, or indeed, whether, to respond when the claims are so outrageously onesided and lacking in substance or truth. One such piece of writing is Greenwashing Eden: The Uses And Abuses Of Biodiversity.
Michael Barker, the author of the article, clearly has a talent for research, and clearly has a point that he wants to put across but I wonder about the reasons for producing something so twisted and biased? The thrust of his writing appears to be based on elitism - relating to conservation organisations, including the World Land Trust. When putting together examples, Barker make connections that don't exist (while missing many that really do exist), and conspiracy theories based on facts taken out of context, with little or no relationship with reality. All the information cited on World Land Trust is taken from our website and the facts and context are there clearly for all to see.
'Elitism' and 'Greenwash' are words that are often used by non-supporters of conservation organisations to make a particular point, and sometimes questioned by those with enquiring minds who want to know how the World Land Trust (and other conservation organisations) work: who supports them and how they make a decision about who, and who not, to work with.
Agreed, it is ironic that the same people who are contributing to environmental destruction through their relatively excessive lifestyles, also have the ability to contribute to conservation by donating their money. Without question it is the increasing consumption of resources due to an increasing number of people with capitalist, western lifestyles, that is having such an adverse effect on the planet. But who can blame people for wanting the best for themselves and their families? It is simply human nature.
There are many organisations beavering away to help save the planet - be it through campaigning, education or, in the case of the WLT, working with local people to purchase and protect what is left of their wilderness and wildlife. No one organisation can do everything needed, and indeed people have different opinions and ideas about how and what should be confronted as a priority. At the WLT we have a bedrock of support from individuals with hugely differing lifestyles and we are happy to accept their financial support to further our urgent aims of land protection.
We also work with companies and, yes, we could say that all companies are, to come extent, damaging the environment, but our belief is that only by working with these companies, helping them address their environmental responsibilities and encouraging them to 'think greener' are things ever going to change. However, we do occasionally turn down offers of corporate support where we feel that the company in question is simply looking for 'greenwash' without any true commitment, or where we feel the product simply cannot be justified.
It would be easy to rant to the world at large, via the internet, that everyone needs to change their lifestyle and abandon capitalism but this is simply not going to happen and is a complete 'turn off' for the very people one is hoping to engage: I believe that change is only achievable through small steps by those on the 'inside' as well as the 'outside' of establishment. Better to do something than nothing; nothing is achieved by unilateral criticism.