"Stop Saving the Planet!" Jenny Price's Plea for a More Just and Thoughtful Environmentalism
Jenny Price is a visiting scholar at the Bill Lane Center for the American West. On Monday, October 1, she will present some of her recent thoughts and writings at a special public event presented by Stanford's Environmental Humanities Project. Among her latest set of essays: a revisionist paper about Rachel Carson, and "Green Me Up JJ," a satirical advice column written in the spirit of "The Daily Show." As a writer, Los Angeles Urban Ranger, and research scholar at UCLA, Price says that she has become dismayed by contemporary environmentalism, which she says promises conservation through consumption, and whose benefits are inequitably shared:
It emphasizes changing your light bulbs versus transforming the national energy grid. It focuses on buying nontoxic paints and carpets versus banning toxic paints and carpets. Not that individual action can’t be important—but there’s a lopsided faith in its effectiveness, and in personal versus more collective kinds of virtue. While you see the “50 simple things (or 10 things, or 24 things) you can do to save the earth (or the planet)” lists all the time, none of them ever says, Vote!, or Pay your taxes!, or Stop fudging your deductions, for goodness sake!--which would likely be a lot more effective than changing your light bulbs--much less, Hold Apple accountable! Or, Buy low-VOC paint for the people who work for you! Or, especially, Pay more to the people who clean and paint your houses, so that they can buy low-VOC paint!
– From Jenny Price's essay, Stop Saving the Planet!—and Other Tips via Rachel Carson for 21st-Century Environmentalists
Price, the author of Flight Maps: Adventures with Nature in Modern America and "Thirteen Ways of Seeing Nature in L.A.," has taught at UCLA, USC, and Antioch-Los Angeles, and she and was the fall 2011 Anschutz Distinguished Fellow in American Studies at Princeton University.
The event is free and open to the public, and will take place from 6 to 8:30pm on October 1 in the Terrace Room of Margaret Jacks Hall on the Stanford campus. Attendees are encouraged to read Price's essay and articles beforehand.