Green, but Mostly White… The Lack of Diversity in the Environmental Movement Part 5

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I must admit that I am usually loathe to discuss issues in terms of race, gender, class, etc. But in this case I will make an exception because Future 500 is an organization which is legitimately interested in actual diversity. I should know, though I am white, male, straight, and middle class my political disposition places me in a very small camp within the environmental community. I am a libertarian.

No joke. I am rabidly free market. I believe that the government which governs least governs best.  I am for reducing the size and roll of the state. But I am also an environmentalist.

I love hiking, and trees, and wild spaces, and clean air, and clean water. I think the clear cutting of rainforests is a tragedy. I am disgusted by the plastic mess in the Northern Pacific Gyre. I abhor waste. I am for recycling. I am for fuel efficiency. I am for indigenous people’s efforts to gain stewardship over  land which in many cases these peoples have owned for millennia. But I believe that property rights are the best way to address these issues, which places me at times at odds with some within the environmental community.

That’s OK. I like this position and I find that far more often than not people are pretty open to hearing my critique. Many probably dismiss it quickly, but that’s OK too. I feel that even if someone thinks I’m out to lunch I am often at least able shine a slightly different light on a topic. This often helps to move things forward.

At conferences and gatherings though I am often the only free market person at the table and this is a shame. Despite what many of our environmental brethren think there are plenty of market oriented people who care about the environment. These freemarketeers might not like some of the methods held near and dear to the longstanding environmental community but they too want a cleaner more “sustainable” planet. Sometimes these free market outsiders even have really great ideas but right now, for the most part, their ideas are seldom heard. This should change.

One of the reasons I engage in the environmental political space is because I believe that if environmentalism is relegated solely to what we call the “Left” in this country,  we will have a huge problem on our hands when power  inevitably shifts. If there is no one on the “Right” to voice environmental concerns when the “Right” is in power, if there is no free market environmental constituency to answer to, we will all be worse off.

Diversity of opinion, of experience, of yes ethnicity, of geographic origination, of communication styles, of on occasion even political disposition, can be of immense value to any organization. So long as there is a shared spirit and goal “real” diversity is a huge asset.  Indeed it may be what sets successful organizations apart from the less successful ones as the world becomes increasingly dynamic. Change happens and it is happening faster and faster. Diversity, real honest to goodness diversity, can help organizations cope with this dynamism.

This article was originally published on Justmeans.

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Nick Sorrentino is a former Future 500 team member and the founder of Exelorix Consultants and Against Crony Capitalism. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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