“Green” Vs. Rewilding

I recently saw a comic (thanks Anthropik!) that inspired me to articulate some things about the notion of “green-washing,” and other terms floating around in mother cultures myth-space/meme-pool.

At the illustrators site he had this comment along with his drawing.

This cartoon idea sprang fully formed from a New York Times piece on the ridiculous lengths that some brands are going to be considered for the Home Depot Eco Options promotion (including, yes, a brand of electric chainsaw). It’s a good example of some of the outlandish greenwashing we’re all starting to see. And, how the issue is not as white and black as the old treehugger/lumberjack dynamic.

I thought about this for several minutes and posted this response (FYI: I e-primed it for this blog):

This cartoon feels very funny and also very sad… To think that destroying more habitat (aka biodiversity) and the very life forms that filter the carbon out of the air appears “okay,” simply because the technology we use to do it… functions differently. It still took an oil economy and oil energy to build the chainsaw, and it still damages the environment by cutting down the trees and destroying more habitat for civilizations expansion. It still looks just as cut and dry to me, only it may feel harder to see that with all the mythology out there.

I didn’t feel satisfied with this response though. So I thought about not just the concept of “green-washing” but the actual meaning of the term “green,” in this context. Generally we hear the terms “green-this” and “eco-that” or “environmentally friendly” and “sustainable” and we all use them as synonyms of each other.

If the true meaning of sustainability involves giving back more than what you take from the land, than nothing that takes more from the land than it returns can define itself as sustainable. Less destructive does not mean more sustainable. I think more sustainable would mean giving even more back, and not simply taking less.

If “green” does not actually include the ‘real’ definition of sustainability, but rather means, “less destructive,” than the word “green” itself means the same thing as “green-washing.” In order to use the term “more sustainable” you have to have sustainability to begin with. To say that hybrid cars have more sustainability than Hummers makes no sense. They cause less destruction (in theory). You want to know the real meaning of “environmentally friendly,” “Green,” and “Eco?” It means that civilization leaves its rape victim alive when it finishes taking what it wants, rather than outright murdering her.

As I stood pissing in the bathroom of a movie theater, I read a small plaque above the urinal that said something like, “This urinal does not use water, you just helped conserve 40,000 gallons of water a year.” I couldn’t help but think, “You mean I just allocated 40,000 more gallons of water for corporations to use at their will.” We live in a culture and economy of constant growth. “Conservation” either means saving for later consumption (as with national forests), or redistributed to other consumers, most likely industrial consumers. I mentioned this also in my blog about how the vegan diet does not actually do less damage, but more as it allocates more land for grains which produce more people than cattle, adding to the overall population growth problem and therefore more deforestation and everything else. Conservation does not amount to cultural vision change. As long as civilization continues to grow, conservation does not really exist. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to conserve what we have left of the environment, but that we also must see through the bullshit mythology. Conservation does nothing if civilization continues to grow and squeeze every last “resource” it can as it collapses.

I find myself get angry at these words and concepts, as civilization steals our words and ideals before we even have the chance to articulate them, and uses the language against us. “Finally, people will know the truth about global warming. Finally they will know we must abandon ship… Wait, what did you say? Um… Light bulbs?” I mean, sure, buy less destructive stuff, but know that it continues to destroy us.

Civilization swooping people up before they even had a chance to think about things clearly. I mean, if when people hear the word “sustainable” and simply hear “less destruction,” …it scares the hell out of me. But really I shouldn’t feel surprised, civilizations crazy mythological stranglehold on its members has never faltered. How the hell else would we have come this far without walking away or bringing it down? The One Right Way meme has had to evolve a lot in the last 4 decades since Silent Spring. This looks to me like its latest way of telling people that technology will save the One Right Way, because hey, God made this shit for us right?

To frame our unsustainable civilization in terms of its “sustainability” I believe creates a false hope for those just discovering the problems we face, or acts as a form of denial for those who simply can’t imagine a world without civilization. Perhaps they work as the same thing; a barrier from the truth, from reality. Eco Chainsaws do not exist. Green Energy does not exist. Get it through your fucking heads. We’ve reached the end of the line.

No other book goes through this concept better than Derrick Jensens and Stephanie McMillans up-coming graphic novel, As the World Burns: 50 Simple Things You Can Do To Stay In Denial. I had the pleasure of reading this work as they worked on it through Derricks reading club, and I can honestly say that it feels like one of the best graphic novels/books of our time.

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7 Comments on ““Green” Vs. Rewilding”

  1. The TV was on at the house here (I know,I’m not sure why it was either),
    and a glory of all insults,The Live Earth concert or what ever it is/was came on.Not only did I hear Leonardo DiCrapio called an “environmental activist”,Chris Rock utter the words “we need to be talking to our government, we need to be driving smaller-ass-cars”,but as well, Mellisa Etheridge calle Gore “her personal hero”.
    Pure green masturbation.
    I wish they’d just come out and say it:
    we need to preserve the Earth so we have resources to utilize to keep our civilization running.
    it is just as you stated, it is only conservation in the sense that it will be conserved until the time it is a resource to be used,most likely by a worse party,such as a meglamaniacal -multinational corporation.

  2. “Buy less destructive stuff, but know that it continues to destroy us.”

    I think that might be my new slogan!

    Thanks for referring me to that graphic novel. It looks rad. Keep up the good work.

  3. okay…so i read your piece…and i really like it…so are you saying that all our efforts are best spent taking down civilization rather than finding “green” alternatives?…i mean, i guess that too, is an alternative…i get it…and sometimes i agree and sometimes i don’t…i go back and forth…the green lexicon bothers me as much as it does you..i see through it…greenwashing and green this and green that has ALWAYS hurt my ears…but i often wonder if i should take my repulsion and listen to the language people are using, learn to speak that language, and twist it in a way that positions the masses to give back more to the land than it takes…does that sound manipulative? thanks for your time, your mind…so much.

  4. ya, civilization just means the domestication of people, that i agree with. when you say “We’ve reached the end of the line.” (maybe you could e-prime that one for me) i dont know what ‘we’ you mean. if you mean life on earth, i cant agree. the earth may come to look like mars if current trends continue, but the gene swarm we belong to appears space born and even mars demonstrates an opportunely for human exploitation. in my estimation people alive now may one day live there, if people do not already.

    you mention that you feel a vegan diet adds to the population. that seems misleading to me. sex leads to population growth, not diet. sure, we could easily feed even our grossly overpopulated current numbers with a change to non animal based diets, but we can bring that into effect without anyone ever eating a single grain. we could all live happily on kudzu and beggars tick for the most part, foraging and gathering what we need from the wild without ever firing up a single tractor or tying a single plow to anyone.

    i dont like the term vegan for the same reasons you appear opposed to the term green. but that need not mean the original uncorrupted concepts contain any flaw. i believe we can live in a sustainable way, but to me that more so involves oral sex and learning what wild ‘invasive’ plants we can eat and use for medicine and birth control than necessarily abolishing all techniques and technologies accumulated by the civilizations that brought us to this current state. for instance, bulldozers already exist, we need make no more but from what i hear some among us understand how to run them on water. they may offer the potential to relatively quickly reforest areas we turned to desert by digging swales without the use of massive labor.

    i dont consider sustainability and civilization mutually exclusive. in many ancient civilizations sustainability seems evident at least in the area of food production, franklin hiram king wrote a book you might enjoy looking at back in the very early 1900’s about farming methods in the far east. gutenberg free online book project hosts it i believe. thanks for putting this site up by the way, i enjoy your thought provoking writing although it seems ironic to hear you condemn electricity on a web site. but the web exists, so why not use it, if for no other reason than to attempt to dismantle the empire that created it. when tied to an ore one has but two choices, row or die. while we row we can sing a song about freedom but that seems the only protest life affords. to me, a slave ship well embodies the concept of civilization. going ‘green’ or going ‘vegan’ sounds to me like rowing slower, what you suggest sounds like death.

    green energy does exist, i call them plants. sustainable simply means that which can be sustained, since change is the only constant nothing therefore is sustainable in perpetuity so the very essence of the word is relative. with that view in mind, everything is therefore only more or less sustainable. in the scope of human history even extremely dense populations exhibit the potential for long term sustainability with the proper understanding and implementation of age old farming methods. the quantity of food production need not be the basis for population growth. population growth need have nothing to do with food production except when the availability of food becomes a limiting factor. vegan raw food choices couldnt offer more sustainability, and the current western diet could hardly offer less sustainability than it does. nice try, but you might want to rethink that bit. over all you make a lot of interesting points, i just hate to see them mixed in with such an obvious misconception.

  5. Pingback: “Energy Crisis” Vs. Rewilding | Urban Scout: Rewilding Cascadia

  6. “monster food” sounds like a good guy but hes got some flaws in his argument and im too lazy to point them out