The environment movement has largely been based around the idea that non-violent demonstration can halt environment destruction. It reaped great results in the beginning as perpetrators of environment crimes, including governments, were shamed and brought to justice. Then the State machinery and industry began to adapt to this civil activism through to co-option, confusion and if all else failed, good old-fashioned coercion.

Co-option

By far the easiest and most cost effective solution for nipping those annoying greens in the bud. Co-option is achieved by adopting a pretence of concern for the environment. All one has to do is use the phrase ‘sustainable development’ ad infinitum, promise prompt enquiries into lapses, fund some silly environment governance or corporate social responsibility project, give away a few Green champion/guardian awards and nominate the troublemaker-in-chief to a ‘high-level’ committee. And of course a scripted speech on World Environment Day or Earth Day, followed by a  cocktail buffet helps too.

Confusion

A very laborious tactic but has great long-term benefits once the scheme is in place. Environment movements are smothered under elaborate legal mechanisms designed to ensure that the House always wins. The processes are designed to appear like a system of checks and balances with elaborate procedures, timeframes, public consultations and grievance redressal mechanisms. In short, bore the greens into submission or incomprehension with consultant/bureaucrat speak. The best example of this is the system of Environment Impact Assessments (EIA) created to give an illusion that environmental and social issues are taken into consideration before building a factory or power plant. The whole exercise is not dissimilar to the comforting but pointless safety drill on airplanes performed by smiling air hostesses. And everyone is a sucker for smiling air hostesses/stewards. In addition to EIAs, legal frameworks are designed such that legal appeals are carted from one court to the other and finally dismissed in some apex kangaroo court, especially if the government is at the receiving end.

Coercion

If the pesky Al Gore/Medha Patkar wannabe is not crying sustainable development from the rooftops or going bankrupt with legal bills, more drastic action is called for. To avoid public sympathy first tar with ‘anti-national/development/people’ label, add a dash of hired goons or frustrated police force and season with ‘rigorous imprisonment’ on a trumped up charge.