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美国环境问题何时能解决?她永不妥协,但已不抱希望

美国环境问题何时能解决?她永不妥协,但已不抱希望

Nicole Goodkind 2020年09月28日
布罗克维奇在新书中指出,要保护美国的河流,需要美国社区长期的努力。

图片来源:MATT TURNER—NEWSPIX/GETTY IMAGES

在公众眼中,艾琳•布罗克维奇就像是巅峰时期的电影明星茱莉亚•罗伯茨:她性格坚毅,身材丰满,她在加利福尼亚州欣克利对抗拒绝对水源被严重污染承担责任的邪恶公司,从它们手中拯救邻居。20年前,我们心目中的这位女士,被史蒂文•索德伯格拍成了一部130分钟的优秀故事片《永不妥协》(Erin Brockovich),电影有圆满的结局。

许多人认为,2014年的弗林特水污染危机同样得到了圆满解决。这件事在媒体上曝光,宣传的主力是新闻机构而不是“金棕榈奖”获奖导演。我们听说,当地的水源被铅污染,水质非常糟糕。时任美国总统贝拉克•奥巴马亲自去了弗林特。他在镜头前喝了当地的水,然后这件事就被我们抛在了脑后。很好的新闻周期,或许结局也算圆满,对吧?人们并不确定事情的结果,但我们很容易以为,既然问题已经曝光,肯定正在得到妥善处理。然而事实并非如此:六年过去了,问题仍未得到解决。

这是现实世界里现年60岁的艾琳•布罗克维奇,希望人们知道的真相。她表示,美国环境保护署和美国内政部的联邦监督,不可能解决美国的环境问题。对1974年的《安全饮用水法》(Safe Drinking Water Act)等联邦政策的修改毫无效果。民众的注意力持续时间并不足以看穿真正的问题所在。2010年深水地平线漏油事件之后,当媒体不再关注此事,居民们只能靠自己保护自己。没有任何超级英雄出现。

布罗克维奇在最新出版的《超人不会来:美国的水危机与国民的应对之道》(Superman’s Not Coming: Our National Water Crisis and What We the People Can Do About It)中指出,要带来真正的改变,保护美国的水道,唯一的办法是通过漫长的基层和社区行动。

她告诉《财富》杂志:“我在从事基层工作的过程中学到了这一点:我们或许是过于自我感觉良好或者自满,总是以为会有某个人或者某个东西能解决问题。这是一个缓慢觉醒的过程。我们要自己站出来抗争。”

以下对话内容略有编辑。

从弗林特水污染危机引起全国关注已经过去了六年。为什么这么重大的事情会销声匿迹,没有任何切实的行动?

艾琳•布罗克维奇:首先我想谈一谈,电影(《永不妥协》,2000年)上映的时候给我的一些启示。电影里描述的事情一度引起了轰动,后来热度下降,但依旧不断有人给我写电子邮件。全国不止有一个欣克利,而是有无数个这样的地方。有些媒体的表现让我非常失望:他们会抛出一些言论摘要,但如果事情没有更多吸引眼球的新闻价值,他们就会离开。后来发生了弗林特的事情。当时所有人都感到非常不安,因为我们以为这些媒体会来保护我们。但他们去了哪里?弗林特也曾经引起广泛关注,但它逐渐淡出了人们的视野,因为新闻周期发生了变化。

我们不希望有类似的遭遇,尽管这种事情有可能会发生。我们认为仍然会有一些媒体来保护我们,而且多年来政府出台的政策,其设计目的也是希望我们不会发现媒体不会保护我们。

以弗林特的铅和铜监管规则为例。这些规则规定,你只需每四年一次进行铅含量检测,并且可以使用样本的平均值。这意味着会有大量数据被遗漏。这些过时的环境政策必须改革,但现任美国政府并不热衷于环境保护。水资源与基础设施一样极其重要,解决这些问题要付出巨大的代价,因此人们要么对其置之不理,要么假设其他人会解决它,结果却往往事与愿违。最终还是要靠我们自己。

您是否认为监管机构变得过于政治化,无法执行长远的、有意义的措施?

我们可以把50年间出现的所有问题归咎于任何人和所有人,但这不会给我们带来任何改变。我们只需要认识到,是谁的责任并不重要,因为问题已经出现,我们要做的是找到向前推进的解决方案。我发现,公司并不喜欢我们的解决方案,因为它们认为这会影响财务状况,但这与事实相去甚远。我们需要重建基础设施,让人们重新回到工作当中。曾经那些让美国变成一个伟大国家的东西,如今面临着严重的危机。我们需要做的是少说废话。水污染已经发生,无论你来自哪个党派,我们必须携起手来,解决关乎所有人命运的这个简单问题。

现在似乎存在两种观点:一种观点认为我们需要联邦政府迅速采取大规模行动,可以与企业合作,另外一种观点是……

不能指望联邦政府。我们可以在地方层面开展行动。

是的。我想说的是另外一种观点认为,联邦政府在短期内很难有所行动,所以可以与地方社区合作,保护环境和水道。您认为这是权宜之计吗?

不,必须从地方层面着手。我认为现在的情况是,联邦层面的摊子太大,因此没有民众和地方市议会的参与,联邦政府难有作为。

我建议人们去参加当地的市议会会议。我曾经亲眼见证过人们在这种会议上所展现出来的力量。有时候,这些城市的议会或许并不清楚发生了什么,而且他们拥有很大的权利进行改革,或者修改法规。让我们从基层着手解决问题。美国每个城市的政府都应该这样做。你可以从国家层面解决问题,但在地方层面,在你自己的家园,[你可以采取行动]不要等着其他人出手。

人们应该怎么做?

人们只需要决定:这是我的水源;这是我的家园。积极参与,了解事情的真相。只需要打个电话。就是这么简单。

以纽约州的波基普西为例。当地人发现水质有变化后,纷纷拨打电话。调查发现水厂在自来水中使用了含氨原料,他们停止使用之后,市民不再投诉。只要他们重新使用,人们就会打电话问:“发生了什么?”

人们的态度正在发生改变。这是你最早能做的事情之一,你或许以为这微不足道,但事实并非如此。你必须参与进来,而且要积极主动。只要你发现了问题,就要把它曝光。因为只要你说出来,你就可以学到一些知识,而知识就是力量。只要你迈出一小步,星星之火就能燎原。你会因此获得巨大的力量。

在有大量少数族裔的社区推行环境保护是不是一件容易的事?人们能听到或者愿意倾听他们的声音吗?

环境种族主义一直存在;这个问题源于许多社会经济因素。

即使在欣克利,我经常想起人们说的一句话是:“你不是医生,不是律师,也不是科学家。你只是穿着短裙东奔西走。为什么人们要相信你?”

我想生而为人,我并不需要有这些身份。这种令人压抑的情况在这些少数族裔社区里随处可见。这些社区里的人被告知,他们看到的和经历的事情不是真的,这让人非常沮丧。最后,人们变得疲惫不堪,然后认为这是命中注定的事情。你必须与基层的民众建立联系,确认是否真得发生了他们所说的情况。他们只想过好自己的生活;他们没有编造疯狂的故事。国家领导人和社会现实之间出现了严重脱节。但在每一个县市,还有无数像你我这样的普通市民。你可以每天给市政府打15次电话,也可以联系我们。我们会找媒体跟进。

在全国削减警察预算的运动中,许多美国人意识到了市议会的重要性,以及地方政府对于他们的日常生活的影响力。

确实如此,而且你能够看到各种组织意识到,他们在地方上可以大有作为。重要的是,我们要去参加市议会,因为有时候议会并不清楚发生了什么,而我们需要到现场去告诉他们。想象一下,如果每个城市的社区都能够积极参与市议会,会发生什么?你将改变自己的家园,并带动整个国家做出改变。

您从事环保事业已经很长时间,而这似乎是一场永远没有结束的战争。您如何避免让自己感觉精力枯竭?如何始终保持积极的心态?

我们生活在一个疯狂的世界,为了不让自己同流合污,你必须停下来恢复状态。当你无法呼吸的时候,你会失去前进的动力。我允许自己有沮丧的时候,可以大声呼喊:“再见。别烦我。”我也会不接电话,不会因为有几天暂时放弃而有负罪感。我不会因为自己不是女超人而耿耿于怀。

几年前,我一度以为我无法继续从事这项事业。我不知道事情该如何推进,我觉得有些力不从心。但后来我的第一个孙子的出生,让我重新充满了斗志,我要努力维护更好的环境。这对于我来说,不需要花费心思纠结。我这样做并不是基于科学;而是因为一个基本的简单事实:地球是我们的家园。我们有义务让我们赖以生存的这个星球恢复生机。地球已经不堪重负,或许我们应该接过保护地球的重担。

所以,累的时候不必硬撑。这是正常的。我们并不完美。我们确实会疲劳,会感到精疲力尽。允许自己感到疲倦,等到明天再重新振作起来,继续努力。(财富中文网)

翻译:刘进龙

审校:汪皓

图片来源:MATT TURNER—NEWSPIX/GETTY IMAGES

在公众眼中,艾琳•布罗克维奇就像是巅峰时期的电影明星茱莉亚•罗伯茨:她性格坚毅,身材丰满,她在加利福尼亚州欣克利对抗拒绝对水源被严重污染承担责任的邪恶公司,从它们手中拯救邻居。20年前,我们心目中的这位女士,被史蒂文•索德伯格拍成了一部130分钟的优秀故事片《永不妥协》(Erin Brockovich),电影有圆满的结局。

许多人认为,2014年的弗林特水污染危机同样得到了圆满解决。这件事在媒体上曝光,宣传的主力是新闻机构而不是“金棕榈奖”获奖导演。我们听说,当地的水源被铅污染,水质非常糟糕。时任美国总统贝拉克•奥巴马亲自去了弗林特。他在镜头前喝了当地的水,然后这件事就被我们抛在了脑后。很好的新闻周期,或许结局也算圆满,对吧?人们并不确定事情的结果,但我们很容易以为,既然问题已经曝光,肯定正在得到妥善处理。然而事实并非如此:六年过去了,问题仍未得到解决。

这是现实世界里现年60岁的艾琳•布罗克维奇,希望人们知道的真相。她表示,美国环境保护署和美国内政部的联邦监督,不可能解决美国的环境问题。对1974年的《安全饮用水法》(Safe Drinking Water Act)等联邦政策的修改毫无效果。民众的注意力持续时间并不足以看穿真正的问题所在。2010年深水地平线漏油事件之后,当媒体不再关注此事,居民们只能靠自己保护自己。没有任何超级英雄出现。

布罗克维奇在最新出版的《超人不会来:美国的水危机与国民的应对之道》(Superman’s Not Coming: Our National Water Crisis and What We the People Can Do About It)中指出,要带来真正的改变,保护美国的水道,唯一的办法是通过漫长的基层和社区行动。

她告诉《财富》杂志:“我在从事基层工作的过程中学到了这一点:我们或许是过于自我感觉良好或者自满,总是以为会有某个人或者某个东西能解决问题。这是一个缓慢觉醒的过程。我们要自己站出来抗争。”

以下对话内容略有编辑。

从弗林特水污染危机引起全国关注已经过去了六年。为什么这么重大的事情会销声匿迹,没有任何切实的行动?

艾琳•布罗克维奇:首先我想谈一谈,电影(《永不妥协》,2000年)上映的时候给我的一些启示。电影里描述的事情一度引起了轰动,后来热度下降,但依旧不断有人给我写电子邮件。全国不止有一个欣克利,而是有无数个这样的地方。有些媒体的表现让我非常失望:他们会抛出一些言论摘要,但如果事情没有更多吸引眼球的新闻价值,他们就会离开。后来发生了弗林特的事情。当时所有人都感到非常不安,因为我们以为这些媒体会来保护我们。但他们去了哪里?弗林特也曾经引起广泛关注,但它逐渐淡出了人们的视野,因为新闻周期发生了变化。

我们不希望有类似的遭遇,尽管这种事情有可能会发生。我们认为仍然会有一些媒体来保护我们,而且多年来政府出台的政策,其设计目的也是希望我们不会发现媒体不会保护我们。

以弗林特的铅和铜监管规则为例。这些规则规定,你只需每四年一次进行铅含量检测,并且可以使用样本的平均值。这意味着会有大量数据被遗漏。这些过时的环境政策必须改革,但现任美国政府并不热衷于环境保护。水资源与基础设施一样极其重要,解决这些问题要付出巨大的代价,因此人们要么对其置之不理,要么假设其他人会解决它,结果却往往事与愿违。最终还是要靠我们自己。

您是否认为监管机构变得过于政治化,无法执行长远的、有意义的措施?

我们可以把50年间出现的所有问题归咎于任何人和所有人,但这不会给我们带来任何改变。我们只需要认识到,是谁的责任并不重要,因为问题已经出现,我们要做的是找到向前推进的解决方案。我发现,公司并不喜欢我们的解决方案,因为它们认为这会影响财务状况,但这与事实相去甚远。我们需要重建基础设施,让人们重新回到工作当中。曾经那些让美国变成一个伟大国家的东西,如今面临着严重的危机。我们需要做的是少说废话。水污染已经发生,无论你来自哪个党派,我们必须携起手来,解决关乎所有人命运的这个简单问题。

现在似乎存在两种观点:一种观点认为我们需要联邦政府迅速采取大规模行动,可以与企业合作,另外一种观点是……

不能指望联邦政府。我们可以在地方层面开展行动。

是的。我想说的是另外一种观点认为,联邦政府在短期内很难有所行动,所以可以与地方社区合作,保护环境和水道。您认为这是权宜之计吗?

不,必须从地方层面着手。我认为现在的情况是,联邦层面的摊子太大,因此没有民众和地方市议会的参与,联邦政府难有作为。

我建议人们去参加当地的市议会会议。我曾经亲眼见证过人们在这种会议上所展现出来的力量。有时候,这些城市的议会或许并不清楚发生了什么,而且他们拥有很大的权利进行改革,或者修改法规。让我们从基层着手解决问题。美国每个城市的政府都应该这样做。你可以从国家层面解决问题,但在地方层面,在你自己的家园,[你可以采取行动]不要等着其他人出手。

人们应该怎么做?

人们只需要决定:这是我的水源;这是我的家园。积极参与,了解事情的真相。只需要打个电话。就是这么简单。

以纽约州的波基普西为例。当地人发现水质有变化后,纷纷拨打电话。调查发现水厂在自来水中使用了含氨原料,他们停止使用之后,市民不再投诉。只要他们重新使用,人们就会打电话问:“发生了什么?”

人们的态度正在发生改变。这是你最早能做的事情之一,你或许以为这微不足道,但事实并非如此。你必须参与进来,而且要积极主动。只要你发现了问题,就要把它曝光。因为只要你说出来,你就可以学到一些知识,而知识就是力量。只要你迈出一小步,星星之火就能燎原。你会因此获得巨大的力量。

在有大量少数族裔的社区推行环境保护是不是一件容易的事?人们能听到或者愿意倾听他们的声音吗?

环境种族主义一直存在;这个问题源于许多社会经济因素。

即使在欣克利,我经常想起人们说的一句话是:“你不是医生,不是律师,也不是科学家。你只是穿着短裙东奔西走。为什么人们要相信你?”

我想生而为人,我并不需要有这些身份。这种令人压抑的情况在这些少数族裔社区里随处可见。这些社区里的人被告知,他们看到的和经历的事情不是真的,这让人非常沮丧。最后,人们变得疲惫不堪,然后认为这是命中注定的事情。你必须与基层的民众建立联系,确认是否真得发生了他们所说的情况。他们只想过好自己的生活;他们没有编造疯狂的故事。国家领导人和社会现实之间出现了严重脱节。但在每一个县市,还有无数像你我这样的普通市民。你可以每天给市政府打15次电话,也可以联系我们。我们会找媒体跟进。

在全国削减警察预算的运动中,许多美国人意识到了市议会的重要性,以及地方政府对于他们的日常生活的影响力。

确实如此,而且你能够看到各种组织意识到,他们在地方上可以大有作为。重要的是,我们要去参加市议会,因为有时候议会并不清楚发生了什么,而我们需要到现场去告诉他们。想象一下,如果每个城市的社区都能够积极参与市议会,会发生什么?你将改变自己的家园,并带动整个国家做出改变。

您从事环保事业已经很长时间,而这似乎是一场永远没有结束的战争。您如何避免让自己感觉精力枯竭?如何始终保持积极的心态?

我们生活在一个疯狂的世界,为了不让自己同流合污,你必须停下来恢复状态。当你无法呼吸的时候,你会失去前进的动力。我允许自己有沮丧的时候,可以大声呼喊:“再见。别烦我。”我也会不接电话,不会因为有几天暂时放弃而有负罪感。我不会因为自己不是女超人而耿耿于怀。

几年前,我一度以为我无法继续从事这项事业。我不知道事情该如何推进,我觉得有些力不从心。但后来我的第一个孙子的出生,让我重新充满了斗志,我要努力维护更好的环境。这对于我来说,不需要花费心思纠结。我这样做并不是基于科学;而是因为一个基本的简单事实:地球是我们的家园。我们有义务让我们赖以生存的这个星球恢复生机。地球已经不堪重负,或许我们应该接过保护地球的重担。

所以,累的时候不必硬撑。这是正常的。我们并不完美。我们确实会疲劳,会感到精疲力尽。允许自己感到疲倦,等到明天再重新振作起来,继续努力。(财富中文网)

翻译:刘进龙

审校:汪皓

In the public’s mind, Erin Brockovich is Julia Roberts, a movie star in her prime: scrappy, busty, and working to save her neighbors in Hinkley, Calif., from evil corporations who deny their part in heavily contaminating water sources. For two decades, our image of who this woman is has been directed by Steven Soderbergh into a neat, 130-minute story with a happy ending.

It’s the same way many view the 2014 Flint water crisis. This time the story played out in the media, with news producers at the helm instead of a Palme d’Or–winning director. The water was bad, lead-tainted, we heard. Then-President Barack Obama went to Flint. He drank the water on camera, and we moved on. A neat news cycle, maybe with a happy ending? That part was unclear, but the problem had been highlighted, and it was easy to trust that it was now being taken care of. Except that it wasn’t: Six years later, problems are still arising.

That’s what the real Erin Brockovich, now 60, wants you to know. Federal oversight, by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Interior, she says, isn’t going to fix America’s environmental problems. Outdated rules like 1974’s Safe Drinking Water Act aren’t effective. The national attention span does not last long enough to see a true problem through. When the cameras turned off and news anchors left their posts on the Gulf Coast after 2010’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill, residents were left to fend for themselves. No superhero in sight.

In her latest book, Superman's Not Coming: Our National Water Crisis and What We the People Can Do About It, Brockovich argues that the only way to institute real change and protect American waterways is through prolonged grassroots and community-based action.

“This is what I learned on the ground with the people: that whether we got too comfortable or complacent, we thought that whoever it may be or whatever it may be would come and fix this,” she told Fortune. “It’s been a process for us to slowly wake up. We need to look to ourselves to rise up.”

The following conversation has been lightly edited.

It’s been six years since the Flint water crisis came to national attention. How does something this big fizzle away with no concrete action?

Erin Brockovich: I’d start with what I learned when the film came out (Erin Brockovich, 2000). There’s a big sensational moment, and things quiet down, but the emails still come in. Hinkley wasn’t one place; there are Hinkleys everywhere. I’ve felt really frustrated out there with some of the media: They’re going to get a sound bite, and then when this is no longer headline sensational news, these people are still left with this. And then Flint happened. It was a very unnerving moment for everybody because we think these agencies are here to protect us. But where were they? Flint was a moment, but it goes away because the news cycle changes.

The rest of us don’t want to think it could happen to us, even though it could. We think that there are still agencies in place to protect us, and over many years policies were written and designed in ways for us not to find out that they aren’t.

Let’s talk about those lead and copper rules in Flint. The rule states that you only have to test for lead once every four years and that you can average the samples. That means they’re going to miss a lot of data sets. You have to reform these antiquated environmental policies, and our current administration isn’t a fan of environmental protections. Water is one of those massive things, like infrastructure, where the cost is so extreme that people push stuff aside or assume that someone else will fix it, but they won’t. It’s up to us.

Do you think oversight agencies have become too politicized to take long term, meaningful action?

We can blame anybody and everybody over the course of 50 years for what went wrong, but that’s not going to get us anywhere. We just need to recognize that it doesn’t matter because the problems are already here, and we need to figure out what our solution is moving forward. I find that companies don’t always like the solution because they think it hurts their finances, but nothing could be further from the truth. We need to rebuild our infrastructure and put people back to work. These are the things that made America great that are now in deep peril. We need to just cut through the bullcrap. Water pollution is here, and I don’t care what side of the aisle you fall on. We must come together on one simple issue that makes or breaks every one of us.

There seem to be two ideas here: One is that we need the federal government to act quickly and on a large scale and perhaps partner with corporations and the other is…

You don’t. You can do it at a local level.

Right. I was going to say that the other idea is that it’s unlikely that will happen in the near future and so there are things that can be done within local communities to protect the environment and waterways. Do you view these as a stopgap measure?

No, it has to be done locally. I think what happens is that at the federal level the umbrella is so big that it would be impossible for them to get anything done without the involvement of the people and the local city council.

I encourage people to go to their city council meetings. We’ve seen the power of people showing up in numbers to those meetings. Sometimes these municipalities might not know what’s going on, and they have a lot of power to reform or change rules. Let’s fix the problems at ground zero. Every municipality in America should do that. You can solve the issue nationally, but at a local level, in your own backyard, [you can act] instead of waiting for someone to come do it.

So what should people do?

Just make the decision: It’s my water; it’s my backyard. Get involved and decide to learn about it. Just make a phone call. It’s that simple.

Look at Poughkeepsie, N.Y. The people there noticed a change in their water quality, and they called. It turns out there was an ammonia feed going into the tap water, and when they turned it off, the phone stopped ringing. They turned the feed back on, and people started calling again to say, “What’s going on?”

There’s a change happening. That’s one of the very first acts that you can take that you may feel is little, but it’s not. You have to be involved, and you have to be proactive. If you think something’s wrong, say something. Because when you do, you learn something, and knowledge is power. You take one small act, but it’s contagious. It’s very empowering.

Is this an easy thing for communities that have large minority populations to do? Are they as heard or listened to?

Environmental racism has been here for a long time; a lot of socioeconomic factors come into play.

Even in Hinkley, what always stood out in my mind was people saying, “You’re not a doctor. You’re not a lawyer. You’re not a scientist. You’re running around in a short skirt. Why should anybody believe you?”

I didn’t think I had to be any of those to be human. There’s this suppression that happens in these communities where people are told that what they’re seeing and experiencing isn’t real, and it’s very frustrating. Eventually people get exhausted, and they think that this is just their lot in life. You’ve got to connect with those people who are at ground zero and know what they’re saying is really happening. They just want to live their lives; they’re not making up crazy stories. There’s a gigantic disconnect between our leaders and what’s happening. But in all of these counties there is that one person—you are out there. Call your municipality 15 times a day. Call us. We’ll get the media involved and put the spotlight on them.

With movements across the country to defund the police, many Americans are now realizing how essential their city councils are and how much their local government can do to impact their everyday life.

Absolutely, and you do see groups realizing that you can make great change at a local level. It is a matter of us getting to the city council because sometimes they don’t know, and we need to show up and tell them. Imagine if every community at every city council level did that. You would initiate a change in your own backyard, and let it spread across the nation.

You’ve been at this for so long, and it seems like a never ending battle. How do you avoid feeling burned out? How do you stay positive?

We all are living in a crazy world, and in order to not spin out with it, you’ve got to stop and reboot. You can’t continue to be motivated if you can’t breathe. I allow myself to get frustrated, to cry, to say, “Peace out. Don’t bother me." I stop picking up my phone calls and don’t feel guilty that I dropped out for a few days. I forgive myself for not being able to be superwoman.

A few years ago I had a moment where I thought I couldn’t do this anymore. I didn’t know how I was going to make progress, and it felt too big. But then my first grandchild was born, and it reinvigorated me to fight for a better environment. It’s a no-brainer for me. It’s not science; it’s just a real basic simple fact: This planet is our home. We owe it to our home and our planet where we reside to be reinvigorated. She’s tired, and maybe we should pick up the torch a little.

So when you’re tired, be tired. It’s okay. We aren’t perfect. We do get tired; we’re all feeling exhausted. Allow that to happen, and then get out there and start working again tomorrow.

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