Why Are People Hostile Towards Environmentalism?

One of the things that saddens me most in the environmental movement is how hostile people can be towards it. Some people don’t just disagree with living greener; they flat out oppose it. Calling people who care for the environment nut cases or granola are some of the milder terms used.

And yet, at it’s heart much of environmentalism strikes me as simple good sense. Where is the harm in trying to use fewer resources? In trying to decrease pollution? In trying to keep more animal species from becoming endangered or extinct?

Most of the people who really cannot stand environmentalism look to the most extreme points of environmentalism and apply it to anyone who simply wants to live greener. It’s as though the more moderate stances that are far more common are invisible.

You can point all you want to the fringe environmental groups who sometimes do more harm than good in their efforts to redirect how the rest of us live, but that’s not the average environmentalist you’ll meet every day.

Sure we want practical solar power. If it can be done more efficiently and cheaper than coal, why shouldn’t we? The technology has made some great leaps this past year, and is looking promising at long last. It may have taken a few more decades to reach that point than originally hoped, but that’s technology for you. Advances cannot be scheduled.

And yes, many an environmentalist would like to see fewer pesticides used on our foods. That’s why organic produce is becoming so much more popular. And it appears that pesticides are doing a great deal of harm to our oceans. Organic farming can be done quite efficiently, and in many areas of the world would be far more cost effective than the constant use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

If the food is healthier for you and tastes better, while production is still good, why not?

There are not many environmentalists who want all humans to go back to a primitive lifestyle. Simplification is encouraged, yes, but don’t confuse that with primitive.

And of course there’s the fuss over global warming. Yes, environmentalists consider it to be a concern. Quite probably an urgent one.

Now I ask, what is the harm in trying to avoid global warming? Investigating it has resulted in a number of inventions, in new industries. I don’t think it’s going to hurt the economy as much as some fear. But the cost of ignoring the possibility could be much higher. I’d rather take my chances on trying to make a change today than do nothing.

No, not everything I do to live a greener lifestyle is comfortable. Most of what I do as an individual really won’t add up on a scale the world will notice. But the more individuals who work at it, the more businesses who take note and make an effort, the greater the impact we can have.

That’s worth it to me.

10 replies on “Why Are People Hostile Towards Environmentalism?”

  1. Kisha says:

    I think talking about the enviroment is like talking about religion, everyone is very passionate about their opinion and won’t change their minds. It makes it very hard to talk about it but still worth the effort.

  2. Sharon J says:

    I’ve also encountered people who ridicule those of us who try to live a ‘greener’ lifestyle and who have looked at me as if I have two noses. I don’t preach it on others but I do comment if I think they’re actions could be changed through simple means in order to give more consideration to the environment.

    I agree, if more of us did our bit, the impact would eventually cause changes to happen. As the mouse said while peeing in the sea, “every drop counts” 😉

  3. GMNightmare says:

    (Warning, this’ll be a long post, and I’ll deviate to a bit on global warming to emphasize my point.)

    Here, perhaps I can shed a little light on the issue. What was said by Kisha, is true, there are many different ideas on what is Environmentalism, what is right, and what is wrong.

    Then, there is the fact that there are so many issues they’ll pry your brain out. Also–that many of these issues aren’t being solved. Which ones do you choose to tackle? Diapers? Plastics? Emissions? Pollution? Trash? Recycling? So many choices, each one costs something. Always quite a large amount of time and convenience–and money as well.

    Then, there’s issues with the so-called solutions. Each solution always has a advantage and disadvantage, and not all of them are realized immediately. A lot of times, initial solutions are often off-base and typically prove to do more harm than help. Thus people hate being tugged in wrong directions, they feel let down, they get angry for wasting resources doing something that harmed more than helped. IE, corn biofuel anyone? Who the hell thought it was good to waste so much food on energy? And such a wasteful process! Then once the truth about global warming becomes even more obvious, people are going to get very ticked… I wonder how that’ll turn out.

    For example, how easy is it to stop rain forest deforestation? Darn hard, it’s not as simple as you would think. We currently use that wood for a lot of things. But that’s only the beginning. A lot, and I do mean a lot, of people depend upon cutting down and using that rain forest to survive. Passing laws will not stop them–they need the money. So to stop rain forest deforestation, you have to help these people first. The issue’s even bigger than that–it’s just a small sample.

    I also have something to say…
    Industrial Hemp.
    According to all the research I’ve done and many others have, the bloody stuff is an environmental god. I mean, easier, more resilient, larger season, and higher crop-to-land ration to grow than cotton. What can this stuff make? Practically everything. Henry Ford made a bloody car of this stuff… and then he FUELED it using hemp gas. That solves so many issues it’s freakin’ amazing. Gas and alternative energy sources, paper, wood products… ect… ect…

    So, why isn’t this great boon to life back in production yet? Why? Sure, propaganda, greed, misinformation, ect all caused a ban on the stuff–but considering the great need why isn’t it back? Find why, and no doubt, a great chunk of the Environmentalism block will show–economy.

    Cotton doesn’t want it in–they’d be bankrupt. Biofuels, and the big gas companies don’t want it, duh. You see, people are greedy and resilient to change…

    And I’ll go on the forefront, the “biggest” environmental issue right now. It’s all about global warming. I wrote this before so I’m just going to copy and paste it here:


    Stopping pathetic moronic people from just shouting random BS that they don’t know anything about–ie our carbon dioxide is causing global warming.
    Maybe, you know, if people would actually research on their own sometimes, instead of just following what the current trend is like sheep.

    Human carbon dioxide emissions are what? 00.05% of the air? Just about. What is the biggest greenhouse gas in the air? Oxygen. What does that make up? Appox: 95%. Does anybody even stop to compare those, what do we omit in relation to the oxygen? 0.0005% using the above figures.
    Oh boy, we’re really doing something there. How about some logic. What cooks up Earth every day? Well duh, our bloody sun. Do you expect it to stay the same, emit the same amount of rays every day? Of course not! It’s a chaotic mass of gas constantly blowing up, raging around and what not (imagery there, people). And you know what? The sun’s having a little fit right now–little flared up right now, and that, ladies and gentlemen, is what your fear really comes from. You can’t change that big huge sun–and it’s the one giving a little more heat out lately.

    I bet most of you only know as much about global warming as An Inconvenient Truth as told you. That and a fear mongering media. Both are only interested in money. That’s right, An Inconvenient Truth is only made for selfish and political reasons. Favorite part of Inconvenient Truth? The graphs showing proof. Hah, if people actually took the time to analyze them correctly, they show opposite correlation. Carbon dioxide FOLLOWS global warming, it isn’t the cause! It’s the reaction!

    But that’s okay. You know what? Perhaps we could be a little more Earth friendly. Whatever, pay the costs for your mixed up views. BUT LEAVE DEVELOPING COUNTRIES OUT OF IT. You, each one of you fighting for this, are murdering people. Your denying developing countries the only ways to develop. And don’t spew BS that they can use alternatives. Alternatives, if you didn’t know, aren’t working right now. They aren’t efficient. And quite frankly, they are far too expensive for developing countries. Again, screw yourselves over by forcing developed countries to be more Earth friendly, but leave the poor alone!


    This also has to deal with it. Nowadays, people rarely do research into things. They listen to whatever comes first, or whatever sounds immediately logical. This also ties with religion, it’s the human psych. Environmentalism is an ever changing playground. And people lie about it A LOT. Environmentalism has it’s own agenda…

    Just think about it in the same way as evolution. A lot of people (wrongly) don’t accept it simply because of how they were previously taught and raised. How would you feel if people telling you that YOU are KILLING the EARTH. MURDERER. MURDERER! Just because you’ve followed what everybody used to do… drink from plastic bottles and what not. It’s not really a positive thing initially. But it gets better.

    Okay, sorry there at the end, my thoughts are becoming a little scattered… I surely have more to say but it’s late, I need some sleep. I’m sure you guys can fill in the small gaps I left, and the leads I would have taken if I continued. Hopefully this helps.

  4. JEANNE says:

    For me the key has been to not preach, but simply to do. I think maybe there are people out there who aren’t so supportive of “green” because they feel defensive, so if you can influence them without being too direct about it, it can make a difference. Does it really matter why they’re conserving, as long as they’re doing it?

    For example, I try to find other benefits to my actions in addition to being green that I can talk about, such as I walk everywhere so that I can eat more ice cream (that one always gets a favourable response 😉 or I hang my laundry to dry to save some $$$ (which most people can relate to).

  5. Gaia says:

    A lot of people see it as a put down of God. God is all powerful, we can’t destroy his creation, only God can do that. God gave us the earth for our use. Etc. They see it as you saying that their religion is wrong. I even heard a sermon against Earth Day once (in a Baptist church about 18 years ago) – basically it was saying that people were worshipping the earth more than God and denying the power God has.

  6. amanda pruim says:

    I have really just become green conscious over the last year and I am taking small steps each day. What I have noticed is that living green generally=more expensive and takes more time and effort. I have just recently switched my cleaning products to the Shaklee get clean line (which is awesome by the way) and I am now looking into cloth diapers. Though I do agree that wanting to take care of our earth should be inate or just common sense, I don’t think being pushy or preachy is the best way to raise awareness or cause change.

  7. I guess it’s becoming more mainstream these days and much more accepted that we need to be kind(er) towards environmental issues. I think most people know what they need to do and sometimes it needs governments to give us a tax disincentive. It will get better.

  8. I think the main reason that some people oppose environmentalism is rooted in the same mindset that leads people to oppose most progressive measures. Many people look at change with trepidation. They feel that admitting that we should all live a greener life means, in reality, that we must live a different life. To the comfortable person, this implied prospect of changing his or her established mode of operation is viewed as both threatening and foolhearty. And then, there’s always just simple old selfishness involved…


  9. I guess there are many possible reasons for this. Some people may not like environmentalists if they make their business make less money. Many people probably think that at least most of the environmentalists are from the left side of the political map, and maybe that makes them not to like them. Generally I think it depends on the individual, anyone may have his/her own reason for not liking something.

  10. Teresa says:

    I agree that some environmental measures are publicized just to make money, but most environmental issues are not. Global Warming is inevitable, as it is a natural process of the Earth. We go through hot periods, and we go through ice ages. But that doesn’t mean we have to accelerate the process. Even more, even IF all of the crap we put into the atmosphere has only a minor effect on global warming, who wants to breathe it? Anyone who has been to LA and has seen the yellow air can attest to the fact that you’re definitely breathing it.

    I agree, that many people seem very hostile toward environmentalists. People either believe in saving the Earth, or believe in the conveniences that Earth has to offer. Personally, I like saving a little on my electric, water, and gas bill. I like not having papers all over my house that I have to file. I like using vinegar, baking soda, and water to clean my house because its cheap, non-toxic, and works just as good as any commercial cleaner I have ever used. Plus when my 7 month old licks the floor I don’t have to worry that she’s being poisoned. I find that where I pay extra for something “green” I spend less somewhere else, so in the end it comes out the same. I pay more for my organic food, but I use cloth diapers and I spend a lot less there. I consider that a win win situation. I’m not sure why some people are so opposed to being green, because in the end, it will benefit them as much as it does the Earth.

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