“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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