People are tired of eco-hype. They hear about global warming and yawn. They see “Go Green” t-shirts and roll eyes. That is so last year.
At NAS, we have consciously referred to sustainability on campus as a fad, not to be mistaken as something more longstanding. But could it really be that the craze is melting faster than polar bear-mounted iceburgs? According to Steven F. Hayward’s article “All the Leaves Are Brown” (originally published in the winter issue of the Claremont Review of Books), it is. A London Times headline sums it up: “Suddenly Being Green Is Not Cool Any More.”
What Hayward calls “green fatigue” is our nation’s growing disenchantment with environmental alarmism. But over in the academic world, they’re calling for reenchantment, urging students to step outside reason in search of “wonder and delight” in nature. The sustainability movement on campus is more demanding. It compels students to become “change agents” with “a commitment to finding solutions to societal problems.” And while environmental hysteria is abating among the general population, among those in higher education, the three-pronged (social justice, economic justice, environmental justice) sustainability movement is just gaining momentum.
Hayward’s indication of the downturn of eco-enthusiasm is a good example of how the ivory tower removes itself from what people “in the real world” actually think. We encourage college administrators and faculty to venture out there once in a while and gain a real sense of wonder and delight.