Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Hug a Treehugger

I am in Shanghai, China for the holidays visiting my boyfriend.  Being back in China has reminded me of the superiority of Asian food, the convenience of good public transportation, the joy of pirated DVDs and the consequences of ignoring the environment.  I shot this picture of the JW Marriott Hotel near People’s Square in central Shanghai.

For those of you who are familiar with Shanghai, I took the picture near the northeast corner of People’s Square, at the corner of Xizang Zhong Lu and Jiujiang Lu.  

To be clear, it was NOT overcast the day I took this photo.  There were patches of blue sky directly overhead.  What is obscuring the view is pollution.  A few days later, I returned to the same area and took another picture of the Marriott from the same intersection.  It was cloudy and there was some light drizzle, but the difference is striking.

As easy as it is to forget about environmental issues (stand in line, we have to end the war, expand health care, fix the economy, maybe toss a bone to uppity homosexuals), we should never stop appreciating those who protest, donate, and fight for clean air and water and for accountability for those who poison the environment.  There is reason that we don’t have to pray for rain, shut down factories and ban cars from the streets so people can breath in America.  There is a reason that the worlds most polluted cities aren’t found in America.  The reason is not the benevolence of industries regulated by the EPA.  Nor is it the dedication of the government to the public good.  The reason is the persistence and determination of environmental activists and their allies in the government who don’t stop fighting for an issue that doesn’t get much attention.

To those who have put so much time and energy into environmental issues, from someone who hasn’t done enough:  Thank you!


  1. Michelle

    Treehuggers and animal rights activists are two groups of people (often overlapping) that I love to hug myself.  They give a voice where otherwise voices would not exist, unless it’s a Disney movie.

  2. spend a night by the river in Guanzhou.  The most appealing feature is that you can actually feel the grit in the air between your teeth.

    Being a lifelong environmentalist myself, I have praise and advice for my treehugging peers.  For all the success to date, we need to take a card from successful progressive efforts and put as much distance as possible – with great visibility – between ourselves and tree-spiking asshats like Earth First and arsonists like ELF.  These people represent my views as much as Mao stands for civil liberties, and they impede the progress we need to keep making.

    The one big change in my environmentalism since my childhood in the Rockies is that I no longer believe we can simply “leave nature alone” and make everything all better.  Not with 6.5B people on the planet, and most certainly not with future populations.  IMO we need to push for advances in science, both in understanding how the systems of Spaceship Earth work and in developing methods of doing what we need to do that mesh well with those.

    Joe Biden made a great comment to this point at his townhall here in Sarasota in September.  When asked what an Obama/Biden administration would do to eradicate the use of coal for power he said {sic}: “Look, China is building a new coal power plant every week and their emissions are already causing lung diseases in California.  There is no way we are going to stop China from burning coal while they are growing their country, just as we did when we were growing ours.  What we can do is develop cleaner ways to burn coal and export those technologies to them.”

    I haven’t gotten any less interested in saving the environment, but I have gotten a lot less starry-eyed and revolutionary about it.  It is imperative that we work to promote and support efforts that will work, we cannot afford the luxury of simply “making statements” anymore.

  3. fogiv

    Friend of mine spent a month in China a few years back.  He said the pollution was “indescribable”.  You’ve done it well here; I’ve forwarded him the link.

  4. As easy as it is to forget about environmental issues …

    With all respect, this is an incredibly ignorant statement.

    If you do not have clean air to breathe and clean water to drink you will die in a matter of hours.


  5. Please do not call me an “environmentalist.”

    I am not one.

    I do not want to have the air I breathe poisonous; or the water I drink poisonous.

    That does not make me an environmentalist.

    That makes me a normal human being.

    It is profoundly insulting to call me an “environmentalist” because I wish to breath unpoisoned air and water.

    That’s like calling everyone who wants to learn to read a  “pro-reading radical.”

    And calling everyone who does not want to be brutally raped an “anti-rape activist.”

  6. creamer

      Until we get the economy moving and reduce our presence and outlays in Iraq and Afghanistan, it will be hard to enviromental issue to the forefront. I know that upsets some but people need to eat.

    I do think that looking for alternative energy sources will go forward wich will contribute to long term solutions.

Comments are closed.