Gar Alperovitz, who once served as legislative director for Earth Day founder Sen. Gaylord Nelson, writes a thoughtful piece for AlterNet on the task ahead for the environmental movement:
The environmental movement, and indeed the progressive movement as a whole, is at a critical crossroads. Defending past accomplishments and continuing to strive for stronger environmental laws and regulations are obviously important and necessary. However, the challenge now is greater. As James Gustave Speth, a leading environmentalist and former adviser to two presidents puts it: “For the most part, we have worked within this current system of political economy, but working within the system will not succeed in the end when what is needed is transformative change in the system itself.”
What Speth and countless others have come to realize is that the world simply cannot wait for the increasingly remote possibility that somehow “business as usual” will generate a politics that can alter the deteriorating trends. A new economic system of environmental stewardship must be built from the ground up, community by community, state by state, region by region in the coming period.
Just such a “new economy” movement is, in fact, quietly building up momentum just beneath the surface of media attention—paradoxically, in large part because the failure of national and international strategies produces more and more economic and ecological devastation. Citizens in all parts of the country have been taking the lead in constructing new economic models and institutions that not only promote democratized economic opportunity, but also, ecological sustainability.