When my Dark Mountain essay ‘Confessions of a recovering environmentalist’ was republished in the American magazine Orion a few months back, it caused a useful stir. Naturally, not everybody liked it. The American writer Wen Stephenson was not impressed by what I had to say and slapped a metaphorical glove across my metaphorical face with a one line put-down: ‘this is what giving up looks like.’
Naturally, I couldn’t let this pass, so I told Wen that wishful thinking was no substitute for honesty, and perhaps he should stop reading so many Bill McKibben articles. Fortunately, things went uphill from there and spiralled into an interesting correspondence, which reached its natural climax this month when Wen asked me to engage in a conversation on his blog (Wen writes a blog from the birthplace of Henry David Thoreau, which piqued my interest) about the themes of the essay and of the Dark Mountain Project.
This is turning out to be quite a good exchange. Personally, I’m finding it interesting to compare it to the duel I had with George Monbiot three years ago along the same kind of lines. A lot has changed in three years. That early exchange generated more heat than light, but this is more of a conversation than a debate, and the world it is being held in seems quite different. Best of all, neither of us is pretending that we have any answers. I like that.
This discussion is going to play out over the next few days. I’d really like it if others wanted to wade in too.