Saturday, April 29, 2006

A NEW Green movement?

Have you seen the new ad by General Motors? It proclaims: "Energy independence? The answer may be growing in our own backyard." They are promoting FlexFuel Vehicles and their website.

What about Kermit the frog being used to sell Escape Hybrid SUVs for Ford? "I guess it is easy being green" are the caption along with its SUV being the most efficient. They get 36mpg city!

Then there are ads by Chevron asking us to find solutions to our energy problems. They are dispelling a lot of myths with their ads like: "Russian, Iran, and Qatar have 58% of the world's natural gas reserves. The United States has 3%. Will you join us?" they ask.

Pick up the latest Wired Magazine and one could see these ads within the first few pages. They would first see the cover with Al Gore and captions of how we can fight environmental destruction with capitalism and technology. I am rather skeptical of this new movement. They want to ignore a radical change in our way of life and assume and easier route is possible. How much more ignorant could they be?

Here's a clip from an article about a 'new Green movement' or as I call it greenwashing gone mainstream:


Green-minded activists failed to move the broader public not because they were wrong about the problems, but because the solutions they offered were unappealing to most people. They called for tightening belts and curbing appetites, turning down the thermostat and living lower on the food chain. They rejected technology, business, and prosperity in favor of returning to a simpler way of life. No wonder the movement got so little traction. Asking people in the world's wealthiest, most advanced societies to turn their backs on the very forces that drove such abundance is naive at best.

With climate change hard upon us, a new green movement is taking shape, one that embraces environmentalism's concerns but rejects its worn-out answers. Technology can be a font of endlessly creative solutions. Business can be a vehicle for change. Prosperity can help us build the kind of world we want. Scientific exploration, innovative design, and cultural evolution are the most powerful tools we have. Entrepreneurial zeal and market forces, guided by sustainable policies, can propel the world into a bright green future."

The electric zeal in which these writers proclaim a new era remind me of another ancient period: the dot-com boom. Journalists can afford to be glib about a 'green' future involving little personal sacrifice or change in our livelihoods while energy is cheap. But when oil prices continue skyrocketing, will converting food to ethanol be efficient? Will more starve so the rich can continue to drive their SUVs - is this a true green movement?

One way that is continually refuted by the tech-heads is to go carfree. This is not simple in our society of instant gratification, but it changes ones perspective. I dare anyone to try it for 3 months and still try explaining coherently of its ineffectiveness . The money saved alone can improve not just ones pocketbooks but ones community. You meet more neighbors walking and riding the bus, you become more immersed in a world you may not have realized existed.

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