Many years ago there was an environmental movement. It began long before anyone knew Al Gore or Gretta and it was full grown before carbon footprint consciousness was trendy or cool. These activists that were screaming about every single creature lost and every blade of grass turned into concrete seemed about as extreme and crazy as anyone could be. Most were considered left over hippies with a new cause. In those long ago days, they were also treated like any extreme fanatical crazy would be treated. They were demeaned, arrested, sued and denounced by their opponents and they were mostly ignored or laughed at by the regular people.
The sad thing is that now we know that they really were onto something. It can be a really hard thing for someone who is busting their ass to pay the bills and maybe get just ahead enough to have some comfort to find the time, energy, and or motivation to give a damn about some disaster to the planet and nature half a world away. It is a challenging thing to understand that what happens in some remote mountain village in Asia or South American can have profound and direct impact on your life and or your way of life. Heck, it is even hard to care about what happens in places like Love Canal, New York or Picher, Oklahoma or any of the other more than 1300 Superfund Toxic Sties in the United States. The problem is that like a cancer in the body, if you do not care about what happens because the cancer is not somewhere important, by the time it spreads to somewhere important it will be too late to stop it. The same holds true with industrial practices that destroy the planet wherever they go. They strip out every usable resource and squeeze every bit of profit and then leave a permanent scar and move on to the next site with resources to strip bare and they will continue to do so as long as there is a profit to be made. No location on the planet is safe from their greed.
Even if you are proactive, unlike the cancer patient above, and go to the doctor and get the tumor removed; but now you have not a life but an existence scheduled around chemo treatments and down days and check-ups and tests and more down days you get a cure that is more damaging and destructive than the original tumor (depending on your priorities and definitions). There is NO perfect solution to ANY problem. That is part of the challenge of life, solving problems the best way possible and then dealing with not only the known or foreseen side effects but more importantly recognizing and understanding and learning from the unintended and unforeseen side effects. And there are ALWAYS unintended and unforeseen side effects. How do we make the best choices and decisions and pick the best solutions to the most daunting problems facing us? Hopefully, we use our minds, our intelligence and creativity, our morals, our sense of fairness and right over wrong, our hearts, our compassion and our humanity. Most importantly, we have to have clear worthy goals and be willing to make hard choices to reach those worthy goals and live with those solutions.
In the environmental movement this is not what happened. Instead, the movement was usurped by opportunists that could see a whole profitable movement sweep the world. Enter the age of the trendy, shiny, and very cool Bright Greens. They took the 3 R’s of the Green Movement and reduced them to the 1 that would be inline with profit margins and consumerism. Well done Corporate America and Corporate World. The original 3 R’s were to reduce the amount of waste that one created, presumably by reducing the amount of things that one threw out by reducing the amount of consumption and or being aware of the waste from each purchase or product, to reuse or repurpose those things that no longer worked in their original role, but could serve another purpose which would in essence also reduce, and the surviving R, recycle, the R that could be made into profit for the corporate world.
Most people today, consider themselves to be environmentally concerned citizens, but when you strip away all the marketing and trending hashtags, do you know just how you stack up in your roll of Steward Of The Planet? You might think that you are doing your best, buying products that are “organically” grown and packaged in recyclable packaging. Donating to the right causes. Voting for the right candidates. Supporting the right parties. But are you still buying the latest iPhone, every release date and remote working from your favorite coffee shop on your Mac Pro? Going home and still binging Netflix most nights while you order take out Sushi or pho delivered by your Uber Eats, Door Dash guy in his electric Mini, your water from bottles, cause tap water, GROSS! You have sworn off meat cause cow farts are second behind humans for causing CO2 emissions. You’ve gone vegan cause all the pretty people are and science proves we are herd animals so we should be eating plants and fake things.
However, there is a kink in your movement! It is built on a foundation of half-truths with walls of lies surrounding delusions of a Happily Ever After that cannot be. For every scientific study that proves one of the Bright Greens slogans there is at least one that disproves and more that find flaws with it. No this is not an article to bash lifestyles or living choices, but to ask you to make them with your eyes wide open and to engage in preferred behavior understanding all the implications. How do you do that, you ask.
Pick up or order the new work Bright Green Lies by Derrick Jensen, Lierre Keith, and Max Wilbert. I recently received a copy of the book and wow. First, it is a long read, but it is worth it, so stick it out if you really care about Planet Earth. Second, if you read it with an open mind and with the intention of learning and understanding it is full of information, a lot of it stuff that we really truly should know, but we do not think about and some that we might have had some idea about but not the full and complete implications. To keep things balanced, the authors are original, dyed in the wool environmentalists, not the chic, trendy brand influencers of social media. So while a lot of their suggestions for solving the problem might seem out there and or crazy extreme, they, themselves, are aware that most of us cannot be that committed and or dedicated. And in that regard they show their humanness by openly sharing their short comings in reaching the ultimate goals that they layout. That being said, most of us can be more intentional and more aware and make better informed decisions about how we live our lives and how we spend our money and how we focus our lives.
While the book addresses most of the impacts of today’s most common way of life and supports their arguments regarding the pros and cons of all the popular trendy solutions, they also provide references to a multitude of other sources for you to research for yourself. Another words, unlike the politicians and CEOs and even popular activists their stance is not “take our word for it” but go do your own research and make up your own mind. To get your started I have included a couple links in the article that are short reads and barely scratch the surface of existing damage. Or you could continue letting industry lead the way to solving any environmental problems, most of their own making while claiming that they care.
I can honestly say that I will never live up to the goals of the book. However, having hard numbers and even theorized numbers from ‘expert’ solutions spelled out has brought details that I knew superficially into much better focus. The result is that I want to strive to live a much more intentional life and make more intentional choices in every aspect of my life. Most importantly, I want to be able to live with my choices, because I make them as informed as I can be. Will all my choices be perfect, no, they will not, but, it is my goal that they will be the best choices that causes the least negative impact all the way around. And that in my opinion is a very good start.
For your sake, for my sake, for the sake of your loved ones, for the sake of strangers read Bright Green Lies and make up your own mind, based on the research and not the trending hashtags.