Political agendas. It seems as though every group has one. In the two movies we have seen, we see two different perspectives of the same subject. As a people, we need to see beyond the agendas each group has and try to see the scientific truth behind what is being said. We also need to examine the non-scientific, political motives behind the differing opinions. Here, we will examine the precepts behind these two movies, and the political motives behind each. What is the political perspective to all this?
In order to understand the environmental politics involved with this complex situation, we must look at the historical development of environmental politics. In regards to ideologies and environment, ideologies perform three function—they describe the problem, they describe the solution, and they show the way. In other words, ideologies identify what is wrong, they state how things ought to be, and they state how we should get to the ideal solution. While, as stated earlier, we view environmentalism as a purely left- wing issue, its real roots are somewhat different. Conservatism, surprisingly was the route of the environmental movement.
Initially, Conservatives opposed the industrial revolution, and developed the idea of having an obligation to future generations to be good stewards of the land. It was only later that conservatives allied themselves with the industrial complex. The right wing perspective changed their views with individuals like Thomas Malthus coming to the fore and stating that only the rich should reproduce, and the poor must bring their numbers down. The logic behind this is the fact that the poor could not afford to be in the society and since they were not contributing (very much) to society, they did not deserve the right to live.
Now, as enlightened humans, we view this as an essentially wrong ideology, and we look to help our fellow human beings in times of need and trouble. Some of the right wing reactions to the environment have also been used to control immigration. Liberals, on the other hand, saw no value in the environment, and espoused the complete opposite view. It was only with the development of the theories of Karl Marx that Liberals began looking at science and accepting environmentalism as a cause. Liberals, and more specifically, Marxists believe that environmental damage is a result of increased industry.
They believe that what destroys the environment is the capitalist mode of industrial growth. They also feel that profit is emphasized at the expense of the environment and the poor. Because of this seeming dichotomy between the conservative view and the liberal view, the Environmental Justice movement was created. This movement is actually an “umbrella” movement of many different movements whose main goal is to protect and advocate for the environment. The Environmental Justice movement forwards the idea that the problem is not so much industrialization, but the pursuit of capitalist industrialization.
They believe in responsible economic growth coupled with justice and equality. They also discuss the idea of the ecological footprint and the ecological debt. What this is, very simply, is the number of planet earths that are needed to sustain consumption at present levels. The goal of the ecological footprint and the ecological debt is to bring down the number of planets to one for the planets that consume more than one earth, and to bring up the number of earths to one for those that consume less than one earth.
In the movie “An Inconvenient Truth” Former American Vice President Al Gore takes the viewer on a journey through his environmental life by showing the dire condition the world environment is in. In this film, the stipulation is that man has caused the environmental damage that the world is currently experiencing. Gore views global warming as a moral dilemma that challenges the global civilization. Gore is passionate about his cause, having touted it since he was in college. Being an American liberal, Gore views the political spectrum from the left, viewing nature as having instrumental value.
Environmentalists are usually seen as part of the left wing, but that is not always so. The motive behind Gore’s film is altruistic and political. He wants to show us our failings as human beings and guilt us into action to save our planet from a perceived disaster. Whether or not this disaster exists is debatable, as we will see from our next film. In the movie “The Great Global Warming Swindle,” scientists come together to refute what other scientists have said. In this movie, scientists feel as though global warming is a natural process that has ebbs and flows and points to historical records to prove their point.
In this film, the perspective is most certainly from the right, taking the onus off the human population and placing it on the earth itself. The right wing feels as though it is not human kind that is creating the environmental disaster, and that there is actually no environmental disaster at all. The motive behind this film is to discount all the doomsday scientists that state that the earth is falling apart because of the blatant irresponsibility of the humans that populate the earth.
Agendas perpetuate themselves throughout the environmental movement. By creating each of these films, the two filmmakers have forwarded their own agendas in an attempt to influence the world populations to their way of thinking. By effective use of their own agenda, there is a chance that each side will convert adherents and their respective movements will grow and help form the solutions that this problem so desperately needs. The environmental question and political ideologies are complex issues that cannot be easily resolved.
What we do know is that each of these filmmakers used their own political ideals to back their thoughts regarding the environmental “disaster” that the earth is experiencing. Regardless of one’s political leanings, we cannot deny that a serious problem does indeed exist and it must be resolved. By having two perspectives, we have an open dialogue that will help us better understand the problems so we can better define solutions. The environmental issue is not about who is right and who is wrong, but about making sure we save our delicate planet and preserve it for our future generation