Saturday, July 29, 2006

not a hair shirt environmentalist nor a fool

β€œThe ads are back,” announced Green Business Network founder Joel Makower in August 2004. He referred to the recent rise in frequency of corporate environmental image advertisements. Aimed at values-based consumers, socially responsible investors and public policy makers, the ads number as many as a half-dozen per issue in National Geographic, The Economist, Atlantic Monthly and other opinion-leading magazines. With lesser but likewise increasing visibility, the marketing blitz has advanced into newspaper and television markets nationwide. Not since the early 1990s – when the green consumerism emerged, and delegates to the United Nations Rio Earth Summit debated ratifying international environmental regulations – have companies so aggressively asserted their green credentials.

The greenwash blasted into our scorched industria is wearing thin. A greenless world exists around us all, excepting slivers inexpedient to the tendrils of a technocratic culture.

Trees bedded in concrete, feed on oil and angular shadows. Hothouse flowers of the twenty-first century, relics living on borrowed air, as artificial as a city in the desert. Landscapes are shaped by addiction, and the results are grimly ignored. Arsenic washes mountain streams, and the exodus of life proceeds at a rapid pace.

A pattern conformant race carefully maintains this illusionary system. Ossified dreams are manufactured into trivialities. The resource base for every form of creature is meanwhile destroyed. Oceans are freed from the burden of complex and ingenious life by massive scraping nets. Weeds flourish above water as niche after niche is consumed.

Soil is the name given to those crumbled husks of earth upon which petroleum derived products are slathered. What we now call "soil" is a rusty shelf to hold up corn and wheat as a limited supply of fuel is poured in. It is abuse, and the bill will come due as energy becomes dear.

Even as the oceans boil and the arctic steams, patterns of consumption remain unchanged. Our civilized culture exhales carbon in such quantity, and for such pointless accoutrements, that the very idea of civilization must come under suspicion - - perhaps recast as suicide by pyramid scheme.

There is no point to a civilization when the best parts of a culture can be lost to a cycle of unripe mortality as the resource base collapses.


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