Friday, July 6, 2007

Being Green: Fad or Fact?

Is the push to be green a fad or fact?

fad (noun): "an interest followed for a time with exaggerated zeal, craze."

Being green is so fun and sexy these days: all of the major magazines of the world now produce an annual "green" issue: Fortune, Vogue, Vanity Fair, The Economist, Surfing, just to name a few. The Sundance Channel has TV's first Green Channel. The USA has Al Gore and now Live Earth. California's Arnold The Governator embraces alternative fuels and global warming solutions. Chile has Doug Tompkins and Sebastian PiƱera investing in remote wilderness lands; the Government of Chile has a new Ministry of the Environment. One always hears of a new green film, including one by myself and another by Save the Waves Coalition in 2008.

The planet is packed with green film festivals, seminars, consultants and even sexy environmental TV hosts wearing organic cotton and "sustainable" makeup. There's a green option for nearly everything.

Leo DiCaprio, Kelly Slater and Cameron Diaz all call themselves "environmental activists." A google search of the term "being green" brings up 220,000,000 (that is 220 million) results. Billion-dollar carbon trading funds and massive carbon offset programs rake in big bucks. All major corporations have environmental ethics officers or sustainability managers. Not to mention all the fuss over global warming.

Is this new impulse actually accomplishing what we hope it will, namely a smaller human footprint on this planet, or is it just consuming more natural resources via a novel marketing technique to capture our hearts and minds?

What On Earth is this global media tendency to go green: is it true stewardship for the planet or is it just selling more (green) product? Are we involved in a massive global back-patting session for being green or is this a real movement that reflects a true paradigm shift in human consciousness? I'm an activist and a wannabe greenie since I was 8 years old (approximately 1984). From my own personal and professional experience, I believe we've got a long way to go if we think we're being serious about this green goo.

Inside I feel that all the media coverage about global warming, over-consumption, changing our energy habits, and changing the way we live ultimately won't produce results that actually help solve the problem. And in this global system of supply and demand, if a product doesn't create tangible results it disappears. So in the near future as humanity finds that its green efforts aren't working as immediately as desired, the green style could quickly become old fad, discarded on the waste pile along with batteries and unused plastic packaging.

Another spin on the above angle is that green living could become such an innate part of society and our way of life that media will no longer go out of its way to call it green or to create special features on it. It will simply be our lifestyle, instead of the new shift in consciousness, and it will be completely absorbed into our daily consumption pattern. It will no longer be a new energy saving novelty, but rather an absolute reality ingrained seamlessly into everything we do.

I want to believe that this tendency is here to stay; but frankly, I'm very unsure whether Al Gore on MSN backed by the mining industry and a small army of idealistic corporate-political activists will actually solve global warming; I see great hypocrisy in globe-trotting celebrities preaching the gospel of low-energy-consumption and environmental ethics; and it breaks my heart to watch the usual corporate suspects making millions on carbon-trading schemes that justify monoculture forests as carbon sinks for industry, while virgin forests continue to be clear cut for industry and profit. "Greenwash" is a new word and it's very prevalent.

What is really going on here? Regardless of how "being green" evolves, I'm sure of this: it will be exactly what we deserve as human beings and stewards of the planet.