• Ed Flattau

Virus and the Environment

The emergence of the COVID-19 demonstrates the need for integrating an environmental code of ethics into our daily lives. Never was it more obvious that health take precedence over profit.

In the past, Republican Party leaders seized on every opportunity to label the environmental community an oracle of doom. They recognized that an effective way to rally the base was to exploit human nature’s innate reluctance to abandon a familiar and relatively status quo for an uncertain, potentially challenging future course. That especially held true when the future might entail a considerable degree of sacrifice – the rationing of natural resources, for example, in order to keep them from disappearing.

The Republican Brain Trust counted on the human instinct to defer hard choices by distancing themselves as much as possible from any purveyor of bad news. It is a “sweep it under the rug” mentality, if you like, that irresponsibly does nothing to ensure man’s future survival but keeps everybody – temporarily complacent.

Ultimately, the GOP strategy has been to win support by telling people what they want to hear rather than what they need to hear.

By raising the prospect of unsettling risk, existential threats, and a certain amount of sacrifice, especially in the disruptive initial stages of progressive change, environmentalists unwittingly made it easier for Republicans to saddle them with a Doomsday aura. In those instances, Republicans were taking advantage of the natural inclination to opt for complacency and procrastination in the face of hard choices.

If humanity falters, a major natural crisis may be necessary for the survival instinct to kick in and jolt Republicans and everyone else back to environmental reality. It is not a very appealing alternative.

[Excerpts drawn from: From Green to Mean, 2015.]


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