Green revolution, or green bandwagon?

July 23, 2009 at 1:49 pm Leave a comment

For the past 2-3 years, I’ve been watching the astronomical rise of what I call that “The green revolution”.  For this to have come about finally, I am extremely happy.  Living in an environmentally responsible way is something I personally believe in passionately and think it should have been more of a priority in our society for a long, long time.

However let’s face it, these kinds of concerns for our planet’s future have been around for many years.   Think about it, do you remember “Captain Planet”?  For some reason until a few short years ago, making it a topic of regular conversation had always been the domain of hippies and greenies.  What’s changed?

What’s changed is that modern technology, the internet, social networking has skyrocketed up the popularity ladder and information in general has become easily accessible to all in the last few years.  One can not even begin to comprehend how much this has changed our society – and these effects only grow stronger by the day.  It’s massive!  What is seen and heard is disseminated by those who can get their message across most effectively to the widest audience (money, smarts & power is required for this, not necessarily in that order).

In the past, there were systems in place to verify and authenticate information. But now, who questions the message? We’re in new territory here.  There’s no rule book or case study (as soon as they’re written they’re obsolete), there’s no moderator, seemingly there’s no right or wrong answers any more.

This is concerning across the board.  More specifically, it is especially concerning in regards to our environment.  I read a piece by John Ward recently  “We need a green oracle we can trust”.   Isn’t it crazy; it has become so noisy and there are SO many experts, we now don’t know who to listen to.  Or even when we do listen, whether who we are listening to is right.  Who do you believe?

Who we can not trust.
I believe most of our worldwide concern for the environment is driven solely by the marketing world.  Sustainability & the environment is the current “flavour de jour”, the way for corporates to gain leverage in a saturated market.  Is it possible that instead of a green “revolution” , we have a green “bandwagon”?  We must be weary of this kind of temporary fix, as with every corporation, company, man and his dog jumping on the wagon, it is at some point, bound to topple us all off the cart.  In a market which is so very close to being saturated by green, how long will your businesses commitment to the sustainable practices continue once marketing companies’ recommendations change?   If green is the new black, then what’s the new green?

I question, is sustainability itself, sustainable?

It’s uncanny and unnerving that in an unexpected turn, my excitement at the recent greenieness has come with a huge, overwhelming sense of worry and caution.  I feel this in two areas  –

  1. As mentioned above, how long will can and will these commitments to sustainability last?
  2. As to what we are doing now, is it even the right thing for the planet?

In regards to the latter, if the feelings, hype and actions initiated by the green “bandwagon” aren’t backed by solid scienceworking practices and proof of results (not just in isolation), it could be catastrophic.  A couple of simple examples of this to illustrate my point … the swapping of planting crop areas from food supplies, to bio fuel crops, thus resulting in food shortages.  Or, carbon exchange programmes which seem to justify and encourage irresponsible environmental behavior, rather than seek to correct the source of the initial problem (classic bandaiding tactics).

Do you feel “green guilt” creeping up on you some days?   The more in my face the green bandwagon becomes, the more I feel these feelings growing in me.  Beating myself up over silly things; for forgetting to turn off a light switch, taking the car to work or heaven forbid, even considering international travel.  Taken to an extreme degree, its much like the feeling of having done something naughty, like committing a minor crime.  One worries that if my green sinning is not kept in check, it may eventually result in catastrophic circumstances.  (Along those lines, here’s an interesting read – The Green Religion).

Arrrrrrgh! When all I ever have tried to do and be is a friend to the environment, how did I suddenly end up it’s worst enemy?

Let’s take it back to basics here.  In all this white noise, doesn’t it all come back to common sense?   Take stock for a moment and remember and old phrase courtesy of Newton “For everything that goes up, it must come down”.    Think on my (slightly less eloquent) version of it.  “Let’s not delude ourselves.  Nothing is free in this world.  For everything gained or saved, there is a cost to someone else”.   The trick is, to make sure the cost is in the right place and not a boomerang coming back to haunt you or our future generations.

Common sense practices I endeavour to live by :

  • Plant stuff (just don’t mow down a forest to do it)
  • Re-use before recycling (it takes a lot less energy than having to reconstitute an item. If you can’t reuse it, DonateNZ is a perfect site to find someone else who can)
  • Recycle wherever possible (keeps it out of the landfill)
  • Let the earth take back as much of its own as it can (it’s disposal techniques are much more effective than ours ever could be)
  • Eat well, exercise regularly and live healthily (all round it’ll cost everyone lots less in the long run)
  • Reduce your personal impact (use as little as possible, wherever possible)
  • Keep back to nature wherever possible (packaging = bad)
  • Don’t be an island (a more socially active person is a happier and healthier one)
  • Give back wherever possible (do unto others as you would have done to you)And lastly…
  • If the state of the world is as bad as they would have us believe, then just what you do is not enough, it’s barely negating your own impact.
    Wherever possible, go out of your way to do something that not only changes your habits, but influences positively a number of people (best case scenario – a population!).
    “One teardrop didn’t make a waterfall but a gang of him and his mates sure helped”  (that’s one of my own)

As usual, all comments and thoughts welcomed.

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Entry filed under: Environment & Sustainability, General mumbling, Re-use. Tags: , , , , , , , .

Elementary, my dear Watson. The lessons I’ve learnt…

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