Buying into the Green Movement


A second home, complete with solar panels and constructed with salvaged lumber, in Edgartown, Mass.; Rick Friedman for The New York Times

The New York Times parodies the eco-lifestyle: "Roll out from under the sumptuous hemp-fiber sheets on your bed in the morning and pull on a pair of $245 organic cotton Levi's and an Armani biodegradable knit shirt. Stroll from the bedroom in your eco-McMansion, with its photovoltaic solar panels, into the kitchen remodeled with reclaimed lumber. Enter the three-car garage lighted by energy-sipping fluorescent bulbs and slip behind the wheel of your $104,000 Lexus hybrid."

It continues from there to criticize those who buy green products as being deluded and doing nothing for the environment. "There is a very common mind-set right now which holds that all that we're going to need to do to avert the large-scale planetary catastrophes upon us is make slightly different shopping decisions," said Alex Steffen of Worldchanging.

The 438-horsepower Lexus luxury hybrid sedan.

The Times then fabricates a schism between "real" environmentalists and the rest of us poseurs and dilletantes: "The issue of green shopping is highlighting a division in the environmental movement: "the old-school environmentalism of self-abnegation versus this camp of buying your way into heaven," said Chip Giller, the founder of Grist.org. "Over even the last couple of months, there is more concern growing within the traditional camp about the Cosmo-izing of the green movement — '55 great ways to look eco-sexy,' " he said. "Among traditional greens, there is concern that too much of the population thinks there's an easy way out."

Sorry, Chip; too much of the population doesn't believe that they need a way out at all, think they don't have to do a damn thing and have no intention of giving up the pickup or buying a CFL. Too much of the population thinks that legislating 35 miles per gallon will impinge on their God-given right to go zero to sixty in four seconds.

If you want a movement you need a membership and you don't build that by mocking their first steps. "After you buy the compact fluorescent bulbs," said Michael Brune, the executive director of the Rainforest Action Network, "you can move on to greater goals like banding together politically to shut down coal-fired power plants."

Awareness leads to political action; inventing a "division" just alienates and politicizes. ::New York Times

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