Radical environmentalism, is a grassroots branch of the larger environmental movement that emerged out of an ecocentrism-based frustration with the co-option of mainstream environmentalism. It is the ideology behind the radical environmental movement.

As a movementEdit

Philosophy Edit

The radical environmental movement aspires to what scholar Christopher Manes calls "a new kind of environmental activism: iconoclastic, uncompromising, discontented with traditional conservation policy, at time illegal ..." Radical environmentalism presupposes a need to reconsider Western ideas of religion and philosophy (including capitalism, patriarchy[1] and globalization)[2] sometimes through "resacralising" and reconnecting with nature.[1]

The movement is typified by leaderless resistance organisations such as Earth First!, which subscribe to the idea of taking "direct action" in defense of "mother earth" including civil disobedience, ecotage and monkeywrenching.[1] Movements such as the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) and Earth Liberation Army (ELA) also take this form of action, although focus on economic sabotage and guerrilla warfare, rather than civil disobedience.[3] Radical environmentalists include notably earth liberationists, as well as; animal liberationists, bioregionalists, green anarchists, deep ecologists, ecopsychologists, ecofeminists, neo-Pagans, Wiccans, Third Positionists, anti-globalisation and anti-capitalist protesters.[1]

History Edit

Main article: Environmental direct action in the United Kingdom
Groups: Environmental Life Force, Earth First!, Earth Liberation Front (ELF), Earth Liberation Army (ELA) Plane Stupid and Camp for Climate Action
Timeline of Animal Liberation Front actions: 1976-1999, 2000-2004 and 2005-Present
Further information: Ecotage, Monkeywrenching, Earth liberation

Whilst many people believe that the first significant radical environmentalist group was Greenpeace, which made use of direct action beginning in the 1970s to confront whaling ships and nuclear weapons testers, [4] others within the movement, argues as Earth Liberation Front (ELF) prisoner Jeff "Free" Luers, suggests that the movement was established centuries ago. He often writes that the concept of "eco-defence" was born shortly after the existence of the human race, claiming it is only recently that within the modern development of human society, and individuals losing touch with the earth and its wild roots, that more radical tactics and political theories have emerged. [2][5]

The alternative tactic of using explosive and incendiary devices was then established in 1976, by John Hanna and others as the Environmental Life Force (ELF), also now known as the original ELF. The group conducted a campaign of armed actions in northern California and Oregon, later disbanding in 1978 following Hanna's arrest for placing incendiary devices on seven crop-dusters at the Salinas, California airport on May Day, 1977.[6] It wasn't until over a decade and a half later that this form of guerrilla warfare resurfaced using the same acronym.

In 1980 Earth First! was founded by Dave Foreman and others to confront environmental destruction, primarily of the American West. Inspired by the Edward Abbey novel "The Monkey Wrench Gang", Earth First! made use of such techniques as treesitting[7] and treespiking[8] to stop logging companies, as well as other activities targeted towards mining, road construction,[9] suburban development and energy companies.


The organization were committed to nonviolent ecotage techniques from the group's inception, with those that split from the movement in the 1990s including the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) in 1992, naming themselves after the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) who formed in the 1970s.[11] Three years later in Canada, inspired by the ELF in Europe the first Earth Liberation direct action occurred, but this time as the Earth Liberation Army (ELA), a similar movement who use ecotage and monkeywrenching as a tool, although no guidelines had been published.

The ELF gained national attention for a series of actions which earned them the label of eco-terrorists,[12][13] including the burning of a ski resort in Vail, Colorado in 1998, and the burning of an SUV dealership in Oregon in 1999. In the same year the ELA had made headlines by setting fire to the Vail Resorts in Washington, D.C., causing $12 million in damages.[14] The defendants in the case were later charged in the FBI's "Operation Backfire", along with other arsons and cases, which were later named by environmentalists as the Green Scare; alluding to the Red Scare, periods of fear over communist infiltration of U.S. [15][16] Following the September 11, 2001 attacks several laws were passed increasing the penalty for ecoterrorism, and hearings were held in Congress discussing the activity of groups such as the ELF. To date no one has been killed as a result of an ELF or ALF action since both groups forbid harming human or non-human life. [17] It was then announced in 2003 that "eco-terrorist" attacks, known as "ecotage", had increased from the ELF, ELA and the "Environmental Rangers", another name used be activists when engaging in similar activity.[18]

In 2005 the FBI announced that the ELF, is America's greatest domestic terrorist threat, responsible for over 1,200 "criminal incidents" amounting to tens of millions of dollars in damage to property,[19] with the United States Department of Homeland Security confirming this regarding the ALF and ELF.[20]

Plane Stupid then was launched in 2005, in an attempt to combat the growing airport expansions in the UK using direct action with a year later the first Camp for Climate Action being held with 600 people attending a protest called Reclaim Power converging on Drax Power Station in North Yorkshire and attempted to shut it down. There were thirty-eight arrests, with four breaching the fence and the railway line being blocked.[21][22]

New religious movementEdit

Radical environmentalism has been called a new religious movement by Bron Taylor (1998). Taylor contends that "Radical environmentalism is best understood as a new religious movement that views environmental degradation as an assault on a sacred, natural world." [17] [23]

Conservative political pundit Ann Coulter[24] and novelists Michael Crichton[25] and Tom Clancy[26] also depict it as a religion, among other things referring to its adherents as "Druids," and fictional as a theory.

See also Edit

Further reading Edit

  • Best, Steven and Nocella, Anthony J. Igniting A Revolution: Voices in Defense of the Earth, AK Press, 2006. ISBN 1-904859-56-9
  • Wall, Dereck. Earth First! and the Anti-Roads Movement: Radical Environmentalism, Routledge, 1999. ISBN 0415190649
  • List, Peter. Radical Environmentalism: Philosophy and Tactics, Wadsworth Pub. Co., 1993. ISBN 0534177905
  • Davis, John. The Earth First! Reader: Ten Years of Radical Environmentalism, Gibbs Smith, 1991. ISBN 0879053879
  • de Steiguer, J.E. 2006. The Origins of Modern Environmental Thought. The University of Arizona Press. Tucson. 246 pp.
  • Taylor, Bron, ed. Ecological Resistance Movements: The Global Emergence of Radical and Popular Environmentalism. Albany, New York: State University of New York Press, 1995.
  • Taylor, Bron, "Radical Environmentalism" and "Earth First! and the Earth Liberation Front" in B. Taylor, ed., Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature London: Continuum International. These entries provide extensive bibliographies and are available online at [1]. Additional articles by Taylor about radical environmentalism, including those that explore its history and political impacts, are also available online.[2]

Notes and referencesEdit

I’ve been writing to several individuals and organizations regarding the environment. Everyone speaks about responsible recycling, but no one speaks against the continued manufacture of unrecyclable plastics, Styrofoam, Mylar, glyphosate, and many other deleterious products.  There are a handful of groups who recognize global warming and the continued use of fossil fuels, but no one is speaking against the destruction of our open spaces and how this exacerbates global warming.  Animal rights groups don’t care about wildlife, they only care about domesticated animals. 

I am very concerned with the unfettered over development throughout America and particularly in my state Pennsylvania. 

We are experiencing more and more tornados which is a result of global warming which is a result of the heat absorbed by asphalt and concrete.

I have contacted nearly every self-proclaimed environmental agency in Pennsylvania (and outside) and have concluded that there is no protection whatsoever.  All so-called environmental groups are governed by developers and realtors.  Where are the scientists?

Upper Providence Township, Montgomery County, PA, has lost farms and open spaces which provide home to several types of wildlife.  The problem has caused an increase in road kill, which the township has stopped removing from the roads leaving the carcasses to decay in plain sight. 

There is a section of Route 29 at Yerkes Road that is for sale.  There are plans to build a roundabout and apartment complex on it.  There was opposition to this development so township officials in league with developers put the development projects on fast track and destruction has commenced.

This area floods often, runs along the Perkiomen Creek, and home to North Carolina Carolina Terrapin (Eastern Box Turtle), American snapping turtle, many types of snakes, bees, butterflies, the Great blue heron, owls, hawks, several types of woodpeckers, fauna and much more.  It is a true ecosystem that should not be paved nor destroyed.  Many a box turtle crossing the road has been saved on Route 29 (certainly a risk). 

The Eastern Box Turtle is being driven to extinction.  It is disturbing that we are not protecting this remnant of the dinosaur age much more.  Depressingly, the corporately-controlled environmental groups in Pennsylvania do not list the Eastern Box Turtle as critically threatened. But unfettered overdevelopment continues to destroy their habitats.

There are no sanctuaries for box turtles or other forms of wildlife in Pennsylvania.  If you find a box turtle in the road, you are told to return where you found it, regardless whether the turtle was in a construction area.  This is a tragedy.

Recently, during his campaign for Upper Providence Township Supervisor, a Democratic hopeful visited the homes at Yerkes Road promising them he would reject development plans, giving them the sense that he would protect this area from development. They believe(d) him. I decided that if this political hopeful would protect the Yerkes area from further development (and perhaps other areas in Upper Providence), I would offer to support his campaign, as I have for other hopefuls in the past. 

While speaking with this Democratic hopeful, he hedged on my suggestion to permanently protect this area for environmental reasons.  After 45 minutes of probing, I asked him the right question at which time he admitted that another 1,000 homes are to be built in the township and he would approve future development plans for Yerkes Road.  Proof positive that Democrats are no more interested in protecting the environment than Republicans.

All campaigning political hopefuls, regardless of party, promise to protect open spaces while they will improve infrastructure.   Once in office the promised protection disappears and development commences.  Once a road is improved to support current traffic, these politicians allow developers the right to build shopping centers (as unnecessary as they may be) and squeeze as many homes in small areas as possible. This intensifies traffic and negates improvements to the infrastructure.  Thus, open spaces are senselessly lost.

Besides the threat to wildlife, many homes in the Yerkes Road area have suffered flooding.  Additional development will increase this problem because water has no place to go when there is no ground to absorb it.  Examples:

Environmental groups, government officials, and mainstream media never discuss the loss of open space and how this loss contributes to global warming.

Thoughout the U.S., local politicians are overtaxing long-time residents who have land, forcing them to either move or subdivide and sell off their land.  Developers buy the land and build townhouses…building as many homes as they can leaving no open spaces.  

We are commercializing our land with shopping center after shopping center.  It used to be joyful to drive through the countryside’s of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and regions beyond.  Gone are the open spaces.  Now you drive through a sea of endless shopping centers. Children don't play; they shop or play mindless video games.  Creeks are now surrounded by shopping centers, industrial parks, and/or squeezed by townhouses.

Do you think so-called environmental groups will help?  You are wrong!

Greenpeace won’t get involved.  They are go after ‘shocking’ stunts, such as climbing the Eiffel Tower to put up a banner reading “Resist”.  NRDC, Friends of the Earth, and the Sierra Club are equally as bad.

The EPA is controlled by the very politicians who reside in the pockets of developers.  A representative of the EPA told me to take pictures of box turtles and post them online.  That is the only “help” I received from them.

The Nature Conservancy has developers and realtors on their boards.  They have taken donations to save the rainforest for decades, but the rainforest isn’t getting larger.  It is shrinking more each year.  If you ask them to help prevent overdevelopment in the states, they simply won’t get involved.  Utterly worthless.

If you investigate any environmental group you will find that there are large corporations, developers and realtors on their boards.  The environment has no protections.  

Environmentalists, such as myself, need a politician who will protect the environment without lip service nor greenwash.   Otherwise, there is no difference between the parties. If you watched the Democratic debates this year, you will know that not one word was mentioned regarding the environment and global warming.  You would expect more from the Democrats, as the Republicans do not hide the fact that they care not for the health of the planet. This proves that the Democrats are no better than Republicans; evidenced by the Obama administration who failed to protect the planet.

Recently, New Jersey reported six tornados!  This is a direct result of unfettered overdevelopment which has heated the planet.

Furthermore, who will be financially responsible when homes are damaged by floods caused by over development?  Will the developers or politicians be responsible?  No!  It will be the homeowners.  Just like consumers are responsible for paying to have old electronics recycled, the general populace will be responsible for what ravenously greedy developers and the politicians who support them are doing to the planet.  However, those homeowners are also responsible because they did nothing to prevent the environmental exploitation.

Before he died, Stephen Hawking w that we must find a habitable planet in 100 years…

Is this what our leaders want for their children and their offspring.  Is this what Christians mean by ‘those left behind’ or ‘the meek shall inherit the earth’?  Woe to those left behind or the meek.

To look at the cross-section of any plan of a big city is to look at something like the section of a fibrous tumor. - Frank Lloyd Wright

America is becoming one huge tumor.

Please kindly comment on this very important topic.

-C. Rose

External linksEdit

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