If everyone seeks the same direction, and that direction proves to be the wrong way, then the whole flock might easily meet its destruction.
-Fridtjof Nansen (translated)
Ever since I began volunteering for the Norwegian Green Party (miljøpartiet de grønne), people have been facing me with accusations about my political views, sometimes even claiming that I’m some kind of political extremist, supporting crazy ideas and marginal thoughts. In a reality where mutual understanding is shattered by accusations and reason is lost, I shall try to provide a reason for my actions.
In short terms: My growing concern for the planet and society as a whole finally made a physical manifestation. I decided to act.
What are the problems we are facing as a community? If you’ve read my previous entries, you already have an understanding of my viewpoint. There is a big gap between our way of life, and the limits to what the ecosystems of the Earth can handle. That we even define ourselves as consumers, beings that consume resources, is a symptom of this disease. There are definite consequences to this way of life. During our lifetime, more species of animals and plants will face extinction than ever before in history. That the way society is developing, to lay claim to more and more of the Earth, is looked upon as “progress” by many people, appear to me as perversion.
The loss of life fills me with sadness. That my children might not experience the diversity of the forests that I experienced as a child, or breathe the same pure air, is to me a great distress. I do not think I’m the only one who shares this feeling, but this seems to be tabu in general discussion. Maybe people hide their fears for the planet, or live in denial, thinking: “It can’t be that bad.” All in all, very little is being done in public to meet our common problems.
When faced with the choice of protecting either the environment or the growing economy, politicians tend to say that they prioritize both, when in truth, they choose the latter. The reality is that we must downscale our rate of consumption, and therefore also the economy. During the financial crisis, when GDP actually dropped, emissions of CO2 went down, and less tropical forestland was desecrated. The drop in financial activity did actually something good for our planet. But what was the governments’ first reaction? “Consumption must rise!” Spending tax money on the banks, the machinery of society soon went back to business as usual, and emissions went back up.
It is clear that the system of economic growth is unsuitable to tackle the situation. At the same time, no one in the ‘left-to-right’ axis of traditional politics dares to question the model. Some, like the prime minister of Norway, believe in the dream that “technology will save us”, as if technology can bring the great rain forests back, or negate climate change. The real problem lies in our minds, that we see consumption as a way of life, that other lifeforms are just another commodity, ready to be made and paid for.
The fact that there is one political party in Norway that acknowledges that the economic system isn’t flawless, but that it in fact is bringing us closer to collapse by the day, led me to Miljøpartiet De Grønne. It is a small, but very diverse group of concerned individuals, some of whom are using all their resources (spare time, work hours, money, etc) to make a change in the stagnated political landscape. During the last three years, they have doubled their numbers many times, and have recently gone past Rødt (the socialists) in the polls. The coming election this fall might very well be their breakthrough in many Norwegian municipalities.
The solutions presented by the Greens aren’t perfect, but at least they have understood the problem, which is far more than one can say for most parties. These people acknowledge the fact that the well-being of human society depends on the well-being of nature, and that to ensure a prosperous future for both parts, a different approach to ‘growth’ is needed. I watch this movement grow with great pleasure, and try my best to do my part. Maybe I’ve become a damned tree hugger, but in a funny way that doesn’t feel bad at all.
Looking forward to my first attendance at MDG’s General Assembly in Trondheim this weekend!