Four fundamental environmental values; perhaps yours, too?
There are some basic, recurring principles that are central to environmental problem solving. I believe these same principles are important for solving many problems in a participatory democracy. In fact, this is why I believe green movements (in particular the Israel Green Movement) should appeal to a very wide constituency beyond environmental activists. These are some principles that come to mind:
1) Transparency in decision making and access to information. Polluters love keeping things secret. So do folks making big real estate transactions that will land up privatizing public resources. And so do politicians engaging in criminal activity. Environmental activists are committed to open decision making, free access to information (something even a free-market economist should love – perfect information!), and no secrets being kept from the public. After all – light is the best disinfectant, no?
2) Public participation. Environmentalists like democracy and empowerment of those who are often denied their voice in decision making. We believe that often decisions are best made by the people who will be directly affected by the outcome of the decision. Certainly their opinions must be heard and considered.
3) Law and order. Yes, simultaneously we are for democracy, but also for enforcement of law and order. Israel actually has wonderful environmental laws – but fairly dismal enforcement. The same can be said of traffic laws, business laws and civil laws and others. If laws were properly enforced – equally among all of Israel’s citizens – the country and its citizens would benefit. If laws were enforced, people wouldn’t park in traffic circles in my neighborhood, and people would clean up after their dogs. If laws were properly enforced, our politicians would think twice before taking envelopes stuffed with cash.
4) Education and research. Many of our environmental problems can be solved through technological innovation. But for this, we as a nation must invest in basic science research and in human capital (fancy way to say invest in our kids’ education) to allow us to address these problems. Therefore environmentalists are supportive of proper budgets for public education in all population sectors, in higher education, in quality teachers and administrators, and in public funding for basic science research. Obviously, not only the environment stands to benefit.
So how does that sound? A country with open, transparent and democratic decision making. One that has clear and equitable and fairly enforced laws. One that places education and research at the top of the public agenda? This is a country envisioned by the Israel Green Movement (at least in my opinion!).