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Green is the Color of Money

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A few years a go, I got a call from a friend of mine. She’s an environmental activist. She was crying. And she said, “this works just killing me, it’s breaking my heart”. ”I said, “Yeah, I know. It’ll do that”. Then she said, “The dominant culture hates everything doesn’t it?” I said, “Yeah, it does. Even itself.” She said, “It has a death urge, doesn’t it?” I said, “Yeah, it does”. She said, “Unless it’s stopped, it’s going to kill everything on the planet, isn’t it?” I said, “Yeah it is, unless it’s stopped”. Then she said, “We’re not going to make it to some great, new glorious tomorrow, are we?” 98% of the old-growth forests are gone. 99% of the prairies are gone. 80% of the rivers on this planet do not support life, anymore. We are out of species, we’re out of soil, and we are out of time. And, what we are being told by most of the environmental movement is that the way to stop all of this is through personal, consumer choices. “By simply purchasing our product, the consumer can make a small, easy step to a greener Earth. So, by taking that one roll, and by that one roll, you can help save millions of trees.” I think we can really look at the history of the environmental movement to tell us a lot about why it hasn’t been working. There was a lot of pretty radical and militant environmentalism happening, especially in the 70’s and 80’s. In a lot of ways, that was kind of at a hay day for environmentalism. You know, Greenpeace was founded. It started to become very mainstream in some quarters to be an environmentalist. And then there was also a shift around that time, when corporations realized that they could sell a lot of things by calling them “green”. Green washing is an attempt by corporations to put labels on their activity that are popular and that appeal to people’s sensibility about and concern for the environment and for ecology. For the mast majority of people within society today, there’s a total sense of denial and disconnect between what they think is good and right and then their actions as a society or as a civilization, especially as it relates to the natural world. I have a real problem with a lot of the "solutions" that are put forward by people because they confuse what is real with what is not real. What they do is they take the industrial economy as a given. "How can we save the industrial economy, and oh, it would be nice if we still have a planet." It doesn't matter if I buy hemp soap if there's a runaway greenhouse effect and the planet becomes uninhabitable. The modern mainstream environmental movement of the big environmental organizations -- Greenpeace, and Sierra Club, and the others - is rooted in that very same cultural lie that nature is resources. Nature is things to be used and managed. Nature is, as the philosopher Martin Heidegger put it, just a vast gasoline station that we can just endlessly extract from. They may say we need to manage it more wisely, but as long as they maintain the mindset that we are the lords of creation and creation exists for us as resources to be transformed into commodities for us to buy and sell, as long as they maintain that perspective on what it means to be an environmentalist, then they're working within the same framework of an ultimately self-destructive path that the culture is on. The marketplace is also going to be very important. Many customers have been pushing for change in the boreal forest. The forest product association and its 21 member companies are responding to the demand for greener products, and that marketplace is going to pay close attention. If the change isn't happening, then they're going to put pressure on the parties who were part of the agreement -- the environmental organizations, the forest products companies -- to do the things that they've set out to do. And the will reward the companies when things begin to be implemented and the change happens on the ground. I'm fully confident of that. One interesting piece of the agreement is with Greenpeace, David Suzuki, Forest Ethics, Canadian Parks and Wilderness on our side, when someone else comes and tries to bully us, the agreement actually requires that they come and work with us in repelling the attack and we'll be able to say, "fight me, fight my gang." I personally have no use for large, institutionalized environmental organizations; I think they're more of a problem than a help. They're just eco-bureaucracies. And I won't name any because I don't like to badmouth organizations, except for one, which I feel that I can, and that's Greenpeace. And the reason I can criticize Greenpeace is I am a co-creator of Greenpeace, and therefore I feel like Dr. Frankenstein sometimes, and I feel that since I helped create the thing I can certainly criticize it. And I think that Greenpeace has become the world's biggest feel-good organization now. People join it to feel good, to feel, "I'm part of the solution, I'm not part of the problem." Greenpeace brings in close to $300 million a year, and what do they do with that money? Generate more money. And the people who are at the top of the totem pole now are not environmentalists -- they're fundraisers, they're accountants, they're lawyers, they're businesspeople. People are voting with their dollars at the checkout stands. It's because they know the polling shows that the public cares, and ultimately they're going to care about their profit margin and whether they can sell products. What's happened in British Columbia with the environmental movement, it's been stalemated. The big leaders there compromised; they went and begged, and it's knocked out that movement. So what happened was there was direct action, there were blockades, there was an international market campaign that put a lot of pressure on the companies that were logging in the Great Bear Rainforest, but the end result was that that all fed in to a closed-door negotiation with Tzeporah Berman as chief negotiator on the conservationists' side, where a lot of the groups that actually did the work, the direct actions, and did the market campaigns were shut out of the process. Public oversite was removed and the protocol agreements that were signed with First Nations and with conservation groups were basically shunted aside and so the protocol agreements gave the negotiators a mandate to negotiate for 40 to 60 percent conservation but what happened was they agreed to 20 percent. It's not strange to me when people tell me that the former president of Greenpeace now works for the logging industry of Canada. The former president of Greenpeace Australia now works for the mining industry. The former president of Greenpeace Norway works for the whaling industry. See, because it's just one corporate job to the next. The only measure by which we'll be judged by those who come after is the health of the land and the health of the water, the health of the Earth. They're not going to give a shit as to whether we recycled; They're not going to give a shit as to whether we wrote our legislators; They're not going to give a shit as to how hard we tried. What they're going to care about is whether they can breathe the air and drink the water, whether the land will support them. And they're not going to care how hard we tried, they're not going to care about any of that -- what they're going to care about is do we live on a living planet.

Video Details

Duration: 8 minutes and 59 seconds
Country: Canada
Language: English
Producer: subMedia.TV
Director: Franklin López
Views: 972
Posted by: stimulator on Jul 8, 2010

As environmentalism becomes mainstream, corporations and well funded environmental organizations work hand in hand to divert the public’s efforts into market driven solutions.

With runaway climate change looming in the horizon, we must ask ourselves what are the tactics we are going to use to stop the destruction and take us beyond symbolic gestures.

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