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Let's bury the word 'environmentalism'

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Letter - From the March 21, 2005 issue by Pat Ford
I kept hoping as I read "The Death of Environmentalism" that Shellenberger and Nordhaus meant their title literally, that the repetitive thud of the word across their text would lead them to suggest burying the word. They didn’t. But I will.

Let’s stop using "environmentalism." It’s a lousy word, not least for its harsh embedded sounds. Every time it is said, the words/sounds "iron," "mental," and "ism" tread on the synapses of speaker and listeners. Dickens invented words like this ("Gradgrind" is one) to personify soulless characters. And think about the monstrous track of "isms" and "ists" across the 20th century. Why would we want any kinship with or echo of that?

"Conservation" has some problems, too, but at least the core word/sound it makes is "serve" — so much more human, open, humble and graceful. Sounds matter. They are fibers in the cradle in which our hearts and minds form.

Pat Ford, Save Our Wild Salmon
Boise, Idaho

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