Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Backlash Against Green Hype Machine?

I don't have any idea when or if a backlash against the current green orthodoxy will start but two articles on slate.com caught my eye. Neither article dismisses or denies the problems that the green movement addresses, but they both poke holes in the fear mongering and simplistic solutions offered to the public. As an agency serving clients with a green message, this is something to keep on the radar screen.

It's Time To Turn Down the Heat

By Gregg Easterbrook
Artificial climate change is real; even skeptics now call the danger scientifically proven. But Friedman, Al Gore, James Hansen of NASA, and others present climate change as some kind of super-ultra emergency. Global warming is a problem, one that must be managed via greenhouse-gas restrictions and a weaning away from fossil fuels. But in a world of poverty, disease, dictatorships, terrorism, nuclear proliferation, lack of girls' education, and more than 1 billion people without cleaning drinking water or electricity—climate change barely makes the Problem Top 10. Besides, the solution can't be a panicked pullback from the present economic system, though perhaps that system can be amended over the long term. Economic growth is needed to allow the world to afford environmental protection. At least for the next few decades, headlong resource consumption will be necessary to generate the capital that will pay for a clean-energy infrastructure.

Rusted Roots
By James E. McWilliams
...One issue frequently overlooked in the rush to embrace organic agriculture is the prevalence of excess arsenic, lead, cadmium, nickel, mercury, copper, and zinc in organic soil. Soil ecologists and environmentalists—and, to some extent, the concerned public—have known for more than a century that the synthetic pesticides of conventional farming leave heavy metals in the ground. But the fact that you'll find the same toxins in organic soil has been something of a dirty little secret.

Nothing ever continues in a straight line forever, so I'm sure that an eventual rise in measured criticism will cause the Greens, as a political and cultural group, to lose the current hollowed status they currently hold. These two articles might be a couple of the early data points that support that view.

What do you think? Am I completely off my rocker?

1 comment:

Ryan S said...

In the wake of extraordinarily damaging natural disasters (Katrina, etc) that could be loosely tied to (or at least reported to be loosely tied to) climate change, excruciatingly hot summers, mild falls and sweating polar bears, climate change was a great way to make headlines and spring board back into the public eye for some folks struggling to stay relevant (cough, Al, cough).

I think the media's over-coverage, and our society's Chicken Little complex (the sky is warming, the sky is warming) were then further fueled by good old American commercialism as companies began to see $$ in the green products market (carbon credits and hybrid cars anyone?).

All of these things added together and coupled with an unpopular administration with an unpopular position on the environment led to a very unique situation.

Is climate change an issue? Yes. Is it something that needs to be controlled? Yes. Is it the largest problem facing our society like many folks would have had us believe? Probably not.

Just like an argument with a friend or family member, it's always just a matter of time until the public loses interest enough, and a topic cools off enough and we can look back and say, "you know what...we were probably overreacting a bit there...our bad!"