Rebirth of Environmentalism Book Signing
In his book Doug Bevington describes the three types of environmental organizations that have been prominent in the United States from the 19th century to the present. He defines the earliest traditional type of environmental groups as National Environmental Organizations. A few examples include: the Sierra Club, the Wilderness Society, the National Parks and Conservation Association, and National Wildlife federation. These groups all use an insider strategy to pursue their environmental goals. Insider strategy entails the use of lobbyists and conventional political participation. These groups receive the most funding and have been able to make connections in government. The problem with big National Environmental Organizations is that they are often forced to make big compromises in order to keep their position within government.
Bevington uses the group Earth First! to demonstrate the new radical environmentalists that were prompted to attack in part because of the shortcomings of National Environmental Organizations. Their slogan is “no compromise in defense of mother earth.” This group used an outsider strategy, taking direct action to fight against environmental injustice. This group was not interested in political compromises and didn’t avoid confrontation or conflict. For example they often used their own bodies in protest by sitting in trees or lying in front of bulldozers. While their tactics drew attention, they failed to promote long-term solutions
His main focus is on the emergence of Grassroots Biodiversity Groups. These groups arose as a third path between the effectiveness of National Environmental Organizations and the uncompromising nature of Earth First!. These groups are made up of a small number of intelligent specialists such as environmental lawyers. They use litigation as a powerful tool to ensure that environmental laws are enforced and that biodiversity is protected. The tactics Grassroots Biodiversity Groups create long-term beneficial results. Bevington argues that these groups are so successful because they are both influential and uncompromising (complete text available here).