There Is a Dangerous New Environmental Ideology
Shortly before the recent El Paso, Texas shooting that left 22 murdered and more than two dozen others injured, Patrick Crusius declared he was trying to stop a "Hispanic invasion of Texas" on the imageboard website 8chan.
But, there was a distinctly environmental message to his speech; part of a lesser-known far-right group known as "eco-fascists."
Crusius named his manifesto "An Inconvenient Truth," most likely inspired by former Vice President Al Gore's 2006 documentary on climate change.
"The decimation of the environment is creating a massive burden for future generations. Corporations are heading the destruction of our environment by shamelessly over-harvesting resources. If we can get rid of enough people, then our way of life can be more sustainable."El Paso Shooter Patrick Crusius
He also directly blamed America's consumer culture.
"Fresh water is being polluted from farming and oil drilling operations. Consumer culture is creating thousands of tons of unnecessary plastic waste and electronic waste, and recycling to help slow this down is almost non-existent. Urban sprawl creates inefficient cities which unnecessarily destroys millions of acres of land. We even use god knows how many trees worth of paper towels just to wipe water off our hands. Everything I have seen and heard in my short life has led me to believe that the average American isn't willing to change their lifestyle, even if the changes only cause a slight inconvenience."El Paso Shooter Patrick Crusius
He also claimed to have been inspired by the shooter in Christchurch, New Zealand, who killed 51 people at two mosques.
He referred to himself as an eco-fascist in his own rambling manifesto, where he described immigration as a "environmental warfare," and claimed "there is no nationalism without environmentalism."
Both of these shootings are the latest examples of a new kind of eco-terrorism. According to the FBI, eco-terrorism is "the use or threatened use of violence of a criminal nature against innocent victims or property by an environmentally-oriented, subnational group for environmental-political reasons, or aimed at an audience beyond the target, often of a symbolic nature." For many, coming up with a simplified example of this definition calls to mind tree-huggers with bolt cutters, such as the Animal Liberation Front, which began breaking into animal testing labs in the 1980s and releasing testing subjects and destroying equipment.
This is likely the image that White House advisor Kellyanne Conway was trying to bring up when she told Fox News viewers to read the Christchurch shooter's manifesto.
"He said he's not a conservative, he's not a Nazi, I think he referred to himself as an eco-naturalist or eco-fascist."White House Advisor Kellyanne Conway
Eco-fascism, however, is not the "fringe hippie movement" normally associated with eco-terrorism. It is much more dangerous. Eco-fascism is the belief that the only way to deal with eugenics and brutal suppression of migrants.
The movement's founding father, Madison Grant, started the first organization dedicated to protecting the American buffalo and California redwoods. He was also a loyal, committed supporter of "race science," and as president of the Bronx Zoo, put a kidnapped member of the Congo's Mbuti tribe, Ota Benga, on display in an ape cage in 1906. He published a book titled The Passing of the Great Race, or the Racial Basis of European History in 1916. It warned against the decline of the Nordic race and stated that his generation had "the responsibility of saying what forms of life shall be preserved."
His theory also inspired Anders Breivik. In 2011, Breivik murdered 77 people at a Norwegian youth camp. What still lingers is Breivik's fusion of white supremacy and environmental conservation.
Eco-fascism heavily relies on a concept known as "deep ecology;" the idea that the only way to preserve life on Earth is to dramatically, forcefully if necessary, reduce the human population. Radical ecologist and eco-fascist Pentti Linkola sums it up with "lifeboat ethics."
"When the lifeboat is full, those who hate life will try to load it with more people and sink the lot. Those who love and respect life will take the ship's axe and sever the extra hands that cling to the sides."Radical Ecologist and Eco-Fascist Pentti Linkola
Today, these people believe that not only is the size of the population putting a strain on the planet but also that masses of displaced people will become a threat to state and cultural stability. Aligned with "garden variety white supremacists," they believe that allowing migrants into the US, or other "white nations," is essentially suicide.
In 2018, Sarah Manavis wrote in the New Statesman that eco-fascism was a growing online community awash with tree and mountain emojis, plus runic symbols taken from Heinrich Himmler's SS, the Nazi's paramilitary organization. The term "eco-fascism" itself is an umbrella that houses many different ideas, but Manavis has found some common themes, including "veganism, anti-multiculturalism, white nationalism, anti-single use plastic, antisemitism, and, almost always, a passionate interest in Norse mythology."
Help combat climate change by swapping out single use plastic products, such as bags, bottles, and even USB drives, for more sustainable ones.
Climate change is currently one of the biggest factors of human migration. Some experts point simultaneously to droughts in the Middle East and and grain shortages in other parts of Asia as some of the main factors of the Syrian civil war, a conflict that has displaced 13 million people since it began. According to the International Displacement Monitoring Center, in 2017 more than 18 million people were displaced from their home countries due to extreme weather. The number of climate refugees will only increase worldwide as droughts, food insecurities, and conflicts increase due to climate change. In June, a report from the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights found that "even if current targets are met, tens of millions will be impoverished, leading to widespread displacement and hunger."
Some of the far-right parties in Europe are trying to capitalize on all of this. France's National Assembly Party claims that a hardened border is vital environmental policy, and Hungary's president is calling for aggressive climate change action, specifically to stop migration.
"The horror of climate change isn't in the intrinsic violence of hurricanes or heat waves, but in the ways societies choose to deal with and prepare for them."Environmental Reporter Kate Aronoff
While the US Republican government is one of the last groups to admit the reality of climate change, it can be just as dangerous to admit that it's real and embrace eco-fascism, which is essentially genocide.