What is the Downside to Environmentalism?


I was in a four-hour-long meeting this morning, learning about a new approach to energy storage. I can’t talk about the technology (which, frankly, I think is sketchy) but that’s not the point.

The point is this: I sat at a table with a bunch of smart people from the technology firm, as well as representatives from a private equity company (my client) that’s interested in investing, and all of a sudden, in the chat that ensued during a five-minute break, it became clear that certain of these people think of themselves as environmentalists, and certain others distinctly do not.

I thought hard: What’s the mindset of a person who thinks of himself as a “non-environmentalist?” Is there some downside that I’m not seeing to caring about the health of our planet? Are there people who favor toxicity or an end to biodiversity? Is there a legitimate approach to our lives here that has no responsibility for the welfare of future generations?

Then the icing on the cake: I came to learn that some of these “non-environmentalists” have grandchildren. Sorry, I’m lost.

About Author

Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.


  1. The folks who said they weren’t virnmintulists are merely human, reacting to the implicit question from the constructs in their minds. They aren’t coming at it from your point of view, they are coming at it from theirs.

    That is: they were coming from the construct of them tree huggers are dope-smoking dirty hippies with wives who have hairy armpits. Of course they want their grandkids to have a good world and to breathe clean air and have trees to climb.

    You just found your key to framing the issues!

  2. In the best case anti-environmentalists think caring about the environment is a luxury that should not stand in the way of economic growth. In the worst case (which seems to be the dominant idea in the U.S.) they think that environmentalism is just a trick of communists to end capitalism and to start a stalinist dictatorship. In both cases they think that environmental problems are exaggerated.