Green is the new black

Since global warming has begun to manifest itself in a frighteningly real way, environmentalism is no longer the radical idea it once was. The “greener than thou” attitude now pervades every pore of modern American society. On the surface, this isn’t such a bad thing; if people realize that their actions directly affect the future of the planet, then perhaps there is hope after all.

However, corporations have now co-opted the term “green” to sell everything from clothes to food to cars to oil. Greenwashing threatens to flush the progress of the green movement straight down the drain by encouraging us to continue to consume at a monumental rate. Even British Petroleum has been re-branded to incorporate green as its primary color to have us believe that it is in the business of sustainability.

While the mantra of the green movement is “reduce, reuse, recycle,” the chant that many of us hear is “buy green.” “Reduce” and “reuse” are still the ugly stepchildren of the green movement. It seems that even well-meaning environmental organizations focus more on buying green than they do on using less. Newsletters such as Ideal Bite and The Green Life are great resources that offer practical tips on how to live sustainably, but embedded in the content are always links to companies that sell green products, gadgets, clothing and the like.

To be fair, there are people who have managed to reduce their carbon footprint to literally just the ground beneath their feet. The couple who started The Compact managed to find ways to go an entire year without buying anything. But other than that, I’ve yet to find a movement or organization that is purely devoted to the “reduce” part of the equation.

How is it that humans came to need so much stuff? I mean, do you really need that pile of stuffed animals displayed in the back window of your SUV? Do you really need the singing plastic trout glued to the synthetic wood plaque? How about the myriad of kitchen gadgets that are so specialized that they only have one use?

Judging from the miles of shelf space that’s taken up by stuff in every chain drug store, supermarket, and big box store, there is actually a market for these disposable entertainments. Humans think that they need this stuff as much as they need to put food on the table. But the green movement is just as guilty of pushing us to buy, buy, buy. If you look on the links sidebar of the Sierra Club Greenlife blog, you can click through to sites such as The Alternative Consumer or Big Green Purse (“use your spending power to create a cleaner, greener world”). While well meaning, this faction of the green movement creates plenty of junk — check out today’s article: Recycled Candy Wrapper Bracelets. Wow!

Adam Werbach, former Sierra Club president, points out in a recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle that while it’s all well and good to talk about line-drying your clothes, planting a vegetable, switching to bio-diesel and baking your own bread, the fact of the matter is that the average American still spends an hour a day shopping. He posits that it makes more sense to focus on buying sustainable products rather than on making things yourself.

Perhaps for many people this is the right solution. It’s hard to argue with the idea that it’s better to buy organic products than not. I realize that for most of us, it’s unrealistic to go so green that we’re living off the land. For most of us, “back to the land” means growing tomatoes in a window box (if we’re lucky) or buying organic tomatoes (if we can afford it). There is a movement afoot to live more sustainably by creating urban farms by replacing your lawn with a vegetable garden, but it leaves those of us who are apartment dwellers out in the cold. Still, I disagree with Werbach’s solution.

Why buy at all? Just because people still shop excessively doesn’t mean that it’s okay. And while not everyone is able to re-vamp his or her life to be 100% sustainable, anybody who’s ever gone backpacking knows that it’s entirely possible to reduce one’s impact to a minuscule amount and still get along fine.

Carbon offsets offer penance to those of us who are trying to be aware of just how much carbon we create, and yet it also offers us an excuse to create more carbon than necessary. By offsetting our carbon footprint, many of us get lax about the “reduce” part of the equation in our everyday lives.

I acknowledge that carbon offsetting and buying green can be a good part of the solution. But I see a future, if we’re too short-sighted, where we’re trading carbon offsets like frequent-flyer miles, or worse, hoarding them like canned goods during wartime, or worse yet, having them stolen from us like credit card numbers. I see a possible future where carbon offsets become the new currency, where instead of finding ways to reduce our impact, we’re finding ways to make it look like our carbon footprint is smaller than it really is.

Lest I come off as holier-than-thou, let me illustrate the ways in which I’m part of the problem: I commute an hour each way to an air-conditioned building where I spend all day finding music to put in advertisements that sell more stuff. Don’t believe for a minute that I don’t struggle with my own hypocrisy. Still, we’re down to one car and Tim commutes by bike and train. So my question then becomes, “how much is enough”? If I joined The Compact and didn’t buy anything for an entire year, would that make a difference? What about me and all my friends, or the entire city of L.A.? What’s it gonna take?

34 responses to “Green is the new black”

  1. I think there is no way to make reduced consumption appeal to the owners of resources/means of production, which means there is no way to market reduce/reuse. That means that marketing of “green” products is going to include the message that you can use these products “without guilt”, so you can use them more than the products you are buying them to replace.

  2. Rachel says:

    The new Williams-Sonoma catalog contains the quintessential single-use kitchen product, a jalapeno roaster. I’ll admit experiencing a moment of product lust at the sight of it. Thanks for bringing me back down to earth.

  3. Godfree says:

    The idea of conservation raises some interesting collective-action problems (uh oh, Scott the socialist is at it again). Taking water conservation as an example (one I got to know a little too well): if you conserve a resource in one area, its use will likely increase in another, therefore offsetting the original intent of the conservation, and likely leading to higher levels of overall usage.

    For example, older cities along the coast in southern California use less and less water every year. This reduction is due to developments in water-saving technologies and to social pressures to conserve (in large part because people who live in coastal areas like Santa Monica tend to be left-leaning wealthy people who have adopted conservation as part of their ideology).

    All of this coastal conservation feels great for everyone on the coast; we come to appreciate native plant species and all that they offer aesthetically and so forth. However, since older coastal cities have priority in water rights, the water that we don’t use is now made available for other things like inland golf courses, water parks, and new development. So a question arises in conservation circles: should a city like Santa Monica use-up all of the water that’s been allotted to it in order to prevent more inland construction, which is potentially more damaging to the overall environment than just water usage? This is a good question indeed (and one that is not asked nearly enough if you ask me).

    A similar principle can be applied to fossil fuel consumption: if enough people like you and me conserve, we are creating unintended consequences. For example, if the price of fuel declines enough more people will buy larger vehicles, airline ticket prices will fall, and there will be less incentive for manufacturing and corporate conservation (which uses the lion’s share of fossil fuel).

    This is why in a capitalist economy, one has essentially two options for creating collective action (unless everyone is ideologically on the same page, which when it comes to conservation we are clearly not): first, there is legislation, which is not likely since two of our three presidential candidates are calling for a gas-tax moratorium as a way to combat the rising price of fuel. The other is market devices in the way of economic incentives.

    The latter model can happen if we continue to use-up energy at our current rate (i.e., energy will become expensive enough to create value in corporate conservation), or with models like carbon trading (i.e., manufacturing facilities are all given an equal allotment of greenhouse gas emissions and the freedom to sell the carbon emissions they save on an open market).

    Believe me, it pains me to advocate for “supply-side” solutions, but it seems to me that piecemeal conservation has essentially the same effect. That is, to create economically viability for larger-scale fuel users.

    Buy I recently drove a Prius and I would definitely get one (if I could afford it).

  4. rm says:

    i’m intrigued with how this post fits in with our earlier discussions of authentic identity.

    for example, jen’s call to potentially not buy anything for a year.

    i agree that carbon offsets are the latest “hole in the sheet”-that is, the illusion that you can do anything you want because you’ve “taken care of it” in some other context.

    i can hunt whales from my amphibious suv as long as i carved the harpoons myself from replenished forests and if my ride is a hybrid, right?

  5. Adriana says:

    Great post — I was thinking along those same lines yesterday while looking over the new Cynthia Rowley “Whim!” line of cheap summer lifestyle crap at Target (OK, I bought some drink stirrers and a small pack of sidewalk chalk).

    Michael Pollan’s article “Why Bother” in last week’s NYT magazine puts our feeble individual efforts into perspective:

    Also, you might enjoy this clip on Greensumerism:

  6. AW says:

    Enjoyed the post, Jen, and thanks to Adriana for the Michael Pollan link.

  7. Dave says:

    I’m with Scotty. The obvious problem here is capitalism.

  8. Tim says:

    Scotty, I know you don’t necessarily intend it, but I think that individual apathy is a serious possible by-product of your critique of conservation — as I understand it, that it frees up resources to be consumed by others, perhaps at an increased rate, with even more destructive consequences. I know you recycle, dawg, and also turn down your sprinklers. Ergo, your own individual actions are important to you, so it seems to me that there’s a little cognitive dissonance in there somewhere. I.e., you yourself reduce/reuse, but you don’t see it as a viable political strategy.

    I know that individual (or even collective, on a small scale like The Compact) actions like reducing and reusing will not save our planet without some wider change in our culture and society, but without these individual actions that wider change seems even less possible.

    It seems to me that your argument could be used to justify abandoning attempts to reduce/reuse. “Why should I reduce my usage of petroleum products when that will just make them more affordable to other people who will increase their rate of consumption? I’ll just go ahead and buy that Expedition.” Or “Well, in order to make it economically viable for corporate America to reduce/reuse, we’ll have to reach a *real* crisis in natural resources, so it’s best to bring that crisis about sooner rather than later. I’ll just toss this newspaper in the trash and do my part to bring about the Economic Apocalypse that will save us all.”

    Or am I overly reducing (if not outright abusing) your argument?

    All that said, I tend to agree with The Modesto Kid when he says that reduce/reuse will never appeal to corporate America. Until someone comes up with a way for companies to make money by *not* selling stuff (“Save the environment! Don’t buy this magazine!”), it just won’t happen. There are, however, many public sector reduce/reuse campaigns because these actions tend to benefit (at least in the short term) communities that adopt them (e.g., in reducing the rate at which public landfills are used up).

    The co-opting of “green” by corporations, in order just to sell more stuff, is one of the most deeply cynical actions I’ve ever seen, but there’s nothing they won’t do to get people to consume more. One of the latest examples I’ve seen is the “greening” of makeup. I was in a drugstore the other day, and on every one of the ‘inventory control’ devices framing the exits was a four-foot long cardboard sleeve advertising this special makeup that will help you save the environment. I wonder how much more the company could have saved the environment by simply not printing up the damned advertising.

  9. This post at LGM is fortuitously timed. (I mean it’s not quite addressed to the main thrust of the present post but it’s nice to consider both together.)

  10. Jenomnibus says:

    Scotty – I see your point, in that there will always be people who consume more than their share. My hope is that the overall mentality of individual consumerism will shift, eventually, to that of individual reduction.
    Adriana – thanks for those links – Perhaps I’m overly naive in my optimism, but I have to disagree with Michael Pollen when he says that bringing our own canvas bags to the supermarket is a useless endeavor.

  11. Dave says:

    I’d argue that promoting a reduce/reuse ethic can have a positive impact even if the direct impact of the reducing and reusing is negligible (which I’m not sure it is in all cases). Basically, if you get people to be conscientious about their own resource use, you create a social climate in which the environment is seen as important enough to change your personal habits for. That climate in turn creates political change as politicians have to respond to their constituents’ green concerns. And then maybe you can get some decent legislation. (A carbon tax, for example.)

  12. Dave says:

    But as The Kid points out in 1, any movement toward a genuinely green ethos has to be grassroots, since the structures of capitalism are arrayed against it.

  13. Godfree says:

    The model that I put forth is a critique of the potential for collective action as it is attempted in a society that is diametrically opposed so such action, structurally (as it is based on capitalism) and ideologically (as it is based on classical liberalism, i.e., the creation of the individual as a “rational” actor). My critique has nothing to do with the rightness of one position or the wrongness of another.

    That said, I conserve, but not necessarily because I believe that it will make any real difference in the direction the world is traveling. I do it because I think it is morally problematic to waste, and because it makes me feel good to use and buy less things (I am a minimalist in most things I do). I think my feelings are more based on the simple-life model than on the save-the-world model.

    But to get emotional on the subject: how many times should one hear a PSA for energy conservation while driving past an office building that has every goddamn light on (in the middle of the night) before one starts to feel like a patsy for going home and switching out one’s light bulbs?

    Sorry, I wish I could say that I have hope. Believe me; I wish I could have just a little.

    I don’t blame the American people, even though we’re the largest per-capita polluters bar none. I just think that the most viable way we might address this problem is to create a capitalist model for doing so. I don’t think I’m being cynical in this, just observant.

  14. Godfree says:

    Dude, I need to chill.

  15. Dude, I need to chill

    Nix on that — air conditioning is one of the worst offenders in terms of energy use and pollution.

  16. Godfree says:

    I like your style, Kid.

  17. brooke says:

    Apropos of nearly nothing, except for the semi latent theme of capitalism and political economy, one of the great minds in sociology and progressive thought has passed away. Charles Tilly evidently died yesterday from Lymphoma. I never heard him lecture but thoroughly enjoyed his perspectives a great many years ago.

  18. Natasha says:

    Jen, I love love love your post! I find myself being a total sucker for green tendencies. I recycle everything: if I trash a plastic bag, man, do I feel guilty! I buy biodegradable detergent and other things, because I believe as an intergraded member of this society, it is my moral obligation. Ironically, I do not believe in global warming. This planet has been through many of those cycles of fire and ice ages and it will go on taking the necessary losses with it, creating oceans in place of deserts and deserts in place of oceans and such is life, earthquakes, natural disasters and magnet pole reversals are just a part of its life like everything else, like us– the humankind. I don’t believe in wasting or buying stuff I don’t need, I lived on 30 cents a day once in my life and I could always do it again because stuff is just stuff and money does not mean anything but comfort I can do without. I don’t eat veal or pork, I take green detoxifying supplements, I make sure my kids eat grilled chicken nuggets from Jack in the Box (in spite of their protests, I might add) I buy everything organic, I tried being a vegetarian once (hopelessly, I don’t think I ever could be)… but in the end of the day don’t you want for once eat your steak bloody and keep that wonderful trout fish only because it reminds you of Tony Soprano? “Vanity of vanities all is vanity,” said Ecclesiastes…

  19. Jenomnibus says:

    Hey everyone, check out this site:
    It shows how many earths it would take if everyone lived like you do. I tried it – My current lifestyle would require 3.1 earths. The most interesting part is comparing yourself to others in (and out of ) your demographic.

  20. natasha: if the planet’s earlier cycles are a sign that it will still be around a long time from now, doesn’t it stand to reason that a lot of life will be lost in the shift to a new climate? you really don’t believe global warming is happening (as a byproduct of human behavior or otherwise)? or you believe it’s part of the natural order of things?

    between this one and the idea you had that men can’t or shouldn’t change diapers, i’m seriously worrying about you.

  21. Natasha says:

    Bryan, I am sorry, I goof off a lot and joke about important issues therefore you might have thought that I am either superficial or careless about them. What I was really trying to say is: if you let men change diapers, they’d never recycle them…no just kidding :)

    On feminism: When I talked about diapers, I stated Dr. Laura Schlessinger’s point of view, who in the years of being a radical feminist acted out her extreme feminist convictions making her husband’s life very difficult. She spoke about it at her book signing of “The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands” later on. I, personally, have no opinion on whom changes diapers as long as diapers are changed. The use of that particular example was to express a personal belief that too much of anything is too much. My statement, however, mistakenly emphasized my individual view of radical feminism in interpersonal relationships, when I was trying to merely say that I liked Hilary for reasons other than I simply desired a woman to be the next president.

    On global warming:
    While there is overwhelming evidence that the overall trend of warmer temperatures has been observed and connected to anthropogenic emissions, we are yet to continue to improve our scientific understanding of the climate natural variability. According to the statement of American Association of State Climatologist who think that:”Climate prediction is difficult because it involves complex, nonlinear interactions among all components of the earth’s environmental system” and American Association of Petroleum Geologists who state: ” Certain climate simulation models predict that the warming trend will continue, as reported through NAS, AGU, AAAS and AMS. AAPG respects these scientific opinions but wants to add that the current climate warming projections could fall within well-documented natural variations in past climate and observed temperature data. These data do not necessarily support the maximum case scenarios forecast in some models.” These scientists convey my personal opinion that because of the amount of the complicated component interaction data needed to predict climate models, there can be millions of different possible modeled scenarios, therefore to purposely choose only the exaggerated disastrous versions is premature and scientifically unfounded. And while individuals should make sensible environmental choices in their daily lives, the real solutions will not surface until the scientific, economic and international consensus is reached. I feel sorry for a singular woman who chooses to not buy anything for an entire year, while the president deliberately does not mention the emission capping issue in his recent speech on global warming (his first speech on this topic in all of the years of his presidency, by the way).
    I hope this clarifies my point of view a little bit, as you can see, you should not worry about me as long as I keep away from old people who drive :P

  22. cmb says:

    I know I’m in the kind of in opposite corner on this issue, so here are a few thoughts from a self proclaimed “non-environmentalist” on going green. Please read the rest before you judge me too harshly though.

    First off, let me just say, I do recycle, try to not accumulate too much “stuff”, I us a refillable water bottle, and am considering switching to cloth diapers. I do these things because they seem reasonable on both the environment and my pocketbook, not necessarily because of the recent “go green” campaign.

    I mostly agree with Natasha on the global warming issue. I do believe in global warming, but I don’t believe that humans’ CO2 production is the primary cause. Sure we contribute, but I don’t believe that contribution is as is significant as is portrayed. These cycles have gone on long before America, the industrial revolution, consumerism, etc. Because I believe it’s much larger than our contribution, I don’t believe we can reverse it. Slow it minutely, maybe. That’s partially why I think the recent “go green” craze is a little crazy. It is creating the feeling that the world is coming to an end tomorrow if we don’t shape up, but I just don’t buy it.

    I agree that this going green campaign is just another consumer plot for people to feel better about buying more stuff. I think the majority of it is hypocritical and ridiculous. I hate it being shoved down my throat. It often feels like “environmentalism” is a new PC religion with Mother Earth as God and hard core environmentalists as missionaries. Now the media and Hollywood and corporate America are jumping on the bandwagon in word (go green) if not in deed (consume more as long as it’s green), and it feels as though those of us who aren’t spending our lives defending global warming and saving rain forests are seen as miscreants. I do applaud those who really believe and live their lives accordingly, but honestly, it seems like most people preach and don’t do a whole lot to alter their actions to really make a change.

    Having said this, I have to admit, as much as I don’t care for the current campaign, it does make me a little more aware of my tendencies. While I’m not going to buy a shirt because it’s made from recycled coke bottles, I have stopped to think about how much waste I create (or should I say my baby creates) with disposable diapers. However, if there weren’t a reasonable (in my mind) cloth solution, I would continue using disposable diapers. After looking into it, I have found that there are some really innovative cloth solutions. So, to save me money and maybe help out the environment, I may just switch.

    So, there’s my contribution, even if you didn’t want it. =)

  23. Natasha says:

    CMB, thank you for adding to what I wanted to say but was too ashamed to take the miles of scrolling space of this wonderful blog. I too refuse to feel victimized and panicked, I’d rather get my ass chewed by TGW and apparently so will you.

  24. Godfree says:

    I’m sorry, Natasha, that you feel that some of us might be less than cordial regarding your and cmd’s beliefs on global warming. I can’t speak for the entire community, but I love to hear differing points of view. Moreover, I wish I could share your faith that we’re not on the edge of a serious environmental crisis.

    As for the pain (real and imagined) that fossil fuel has caused (i.e., the colonization of the Middle East, Western support of brutal dictators, gulf war one, 9/11, the US’s extended stay in Iraq, and so forth) do you think we should be at the point where we, as a society, should be looking harder for alternative sources of energy?

  25. cmb says:

    I can’t speak for Natasha, but it is a little intimidating commenting when you’re in the minority, especially among a well educated and passionate group. Like I said in my first comment, it often feels like we’re labeled as ignorant trouble makers when we don’t agree with the (relatively newly formed) public opinion on this subject.

    I think looking for alternatives is a good thing, but I don’t think we should be so quick to jump on the corn band wagon or any other too quickly. Alternative fuels may have different negative consequences. (Higher food costs for one.) I think we should be drilling in Alaska, honestly. I know that’s been debated for years and years, but I think it would help lessen our dependence on everyone else and take off some pressure in the Middle East. Sure that decision could have some negative consequences, but at this point it seems like the lesser of the evils to me.

  26. Dave says:

    CMB, you don’t want to be labeled an ignorant troublemaker, but you bring up corn-based ethanol when we’re talking about climate change? Biofuels are a terrible solution to the greenhouse gas problem — they basically produce more carbon dioxide than burning petroleum does. So yeah, I don’t like them any more than you do, but I don’t imagine they’re a solution to climate change. And ANWR? Again, the real problem in the climate change debate isn’t that we don’t have enough oil. As for the issue of oil dependence, petroleum is a global market; it’s completely fungible. And the real problem in the oil market (setting aside global warming) is that oil production capacity appears to be at or near its peak while demand is steadily growing as China, India, and other countries industrialize and need more petroleum to fuel their economies. ANWR is not going to fix that.

    Similarly, Natasha, dorogaya, you quote the American Association of Petroleum Geologists about human-caused climate change? Basic epistemic hygiene suggests a couple of questions here. First of all, what is the expertise of petroleum geologists? It’s understanding the geological conditions that favor the presence and extraction of petroleum; it’s not measuring or modeling global climate systems. Second, who pays the salaries of petroleum geologists — in other words, which economic interests might we expect them to share and favor? Well, that would be oil companies, whose interests are also served by lack of carbon regulation and continued obfuscatory propaganda about climate change.

  27. Godfree says:

    cmb, it’s my understanding that drilling in ANWR would produce less than one percent of the US’s annual oil requirement. Also, as Dave points out, if ANWR oil was to find its way onto the market, there is no guarantee that it would wind up on the American market anyway, so an even more accurate way that one might look at it is as an even smaller percentage of the world oil demand.

    As for ethanol, this seems to be a huge policy bamboozle pushed forth by ADM, Monsanto, and ConAgra lobbyists. It requires nearly as much energy to produce and bring to market as gasoline does, so it is, at best, energy neutral.

    As far as being in the minority on this one, don’t worry, I’m sure the US won’t legislate any major changes to your lifestyle over this issue. Now if you’re a juiced baseball player, LOOK OUT!

  28. cmb says:

    Dave, thanks for reminding me why I rarely comment.

    Also, I apologize if my comment didn’t convey my points as well as I had hoped. I shouldn’t comment late at night or while my attention is split (the Stars/Sharks game last night was pretty intense with 4 overtimes).

    but you bring up corn-based ethanol when we’re talking about climate change? Biofuels are a terrible solution to the greenhouse gas problem — they basically produce more carbon dioxide than burning petroleum does.

    1. I was thinking about the whole “Go Green” campaign when I wrote this rather than just climate change.
    2. It is being pushed in the media as an alternative fuel that helps the environment and is better than petroleum. As I was saying before, I don’t believe it to be a good environmental solution, for more than one reason. But I would imagine that lots of people feel like they’re really helping out the environment when they buy a car that runs on ethanol or biofuel.
    3. I do think it’s good to look into renewable energy. If a good, reasonable and globally affordable solution is discovered, great. I’m all for it. But I think people are quick to jump on different “solutions” before they are well thought out and researched as to pros and cons because they are in the panicked “the world is coming to an end tomorrow” mode.

    Concerning ANWR
    1. I was not saying it is an alternative fuel source, that drilling there could help the climate change issue (which I addressed earlier, saying I don’t believe our contribution to climate change is that significant anyway), that it would reduce consumption, or that it would be enough to completely sustain us or the rest of the world. It would be a somewhat temporary solution (or supplement) while we continue to look for affordable and reasonable alternatives.
    2. #24 spoke of our relations with the Middle East. Now that I reread his comment, maybe I misunderstood his original point.
    3. I do think that drilling there could help take off dependence and political pressure in the Middle East.
    4. I know that some people don’t want the price of gas to drop because it’s pushing people to find an alternative fuel source more quickly. But my reality is that I live in an area that is spread out, with no real public transportation and a need to drive. Keep looking for alternative fuel sources, but if it’s possible to reduce the price of gas right now, please let us.

    Second, who pays the salaries of petroleum geologists — in other words, which economic interests might we expect them to share and favor?

    Let’s get real here. Both sides are being funded by people and groups that want their opinion validated and proved.

    I’m sure the US won’t legislate any major changes to your lifestyle over this issue. Now if you’re a juiced baseball player, LOOK OUT!

    =) Thanks for making me smile.

  29. Godfree says:

    Let’s get real here. Both sides are being funded by people and groups that want their opinion validated and proved.

    Though I agree to a point with this statement, (as all science in the US is funded by potentially politically and/or economically backed interests) it’s my understanding, that generally speaking, more of the (less-directly politically dependent) scientific community seems to fall on the side of GW as having a human cause.

    As someone who is generally more skeptical regarding corporations than quasi-independent scientists, my default is to always follow the money. However, if you are privy to information that I’m not, I’d like to know it.

  30. seems to fall on the side of GW as having a human cause.

    I read GW, at first, as “Great Whatsit.” Ha! Everyone knows we’re divinely ordained.

  31. Natasha says:

    Scott Godfree, I unquestionably agree with you — we need solutions for alternative sources of energy, however I attribute the existing issues in the Middle East more so to the American imperialism and the current American foreign policy rather than a lack of an alternative source of energy. America is the third largest producer of oil in the world, so it seems, we do not need to constantly buy to fill the reserves as the president stated in his recent address to the nation.

    Moy dorogoy Dave, pri vsem moem uvagenii k velikolepnoy fraze “epistemic hygiene,” although I would personally refer to it as “fallibist hygiene,” I must say that I hesitated to use the quotes from the petroleum geologists precisely because I expected the question of their credibility to surface at some point. Of course, you and I very well know that we could not make a statement as to where their salaries come from simply based on the name of their profession. They are a scientific international organization based in London with almost one hundred and forty thousand members after all. But forget the poor geologists with dirtied reputations, whose statements we mistrust either way; The American Association of State Climatologists, pretty neutral guys, state that it is scientifically impossible to model climate, specifically, global disasters of grotesque proportions. Furthermore, The United Nations Scientific Panel, The American Ocean Panel, as well as Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the three biggest advocates of the green movement, in their overviews of the global warming issue, all say that human industrialism is “likely” one of the reasons of global warming. Such approach is understandable; the theory of Global Warming is still a theory after all. Alas, I still recycle and buy biodegradable products, but in the name of the present problems like plastic bags and chemicals in our oceans. Don’t get me wrong, I stand for what’s best for the humankind but favor methodic research, international consensus, united approach, and real solutions over a green religion which is supposed to disentangle the nut by pulling in so many unsystematic directions. I can’t accept a possible notion that a high school kid makes a GW video, uses some simple math, a table, a pinch of erudite illusion and all of my adult and educated friends forward it to me with a note “Wow! You must see it, I am going green!”

  32. Godfree says:

    I attribute the existing issues in the Middle East more so to the American imperialism and the current American foreign policy rather than a lack of an alternative source of energy.

    One of the larger problems we face is the inability to see simple connections regarding issues. This is not a problem that is unique to you; much of its current incarnation is based on how news outlets and politicians parse issues for easy digestion, and to sell the public on the idea that things are moving forward (whatever that means).

    The simple reality is that of course our foreign policy along with, all modern, Western foreign policy in the Middle East, is completely based on securing a reliable supply of oil. It is true that the US produces a lot of oil, but it also imports more than three times as much as it produces.

    In this very real way, oil to the US is not just an environmental or micro economic problem it is also a huge security issue as well. The simple truth is that if the US spent nearly as much money on researching alternative fuels as it does on military hardware, the result would be pretty much the same: a relatively secure US — a payoff, however, would be fewer American amputees and fewer dead brown people. Sounds like a better world to me.

  33. Godfree says:

    Natasha: I don’t mean to just get the last word on this, and It’s been nice talking about it to you, but I think for the sake of the rest of the people in Whatsitland we should let it die.