Dear Partners in Green,
I recently learned of the book Bright Green Lies by Derrick Jensen, Lierre Keith and Max Gilbert. The question the authors address is whether or not green technology is the answer to the environmental crisis. Their answer is a resounding “NO.” They write that all technology comes with an environmental cost, and that the environmental movement is tainted by capitalism and greed. They also assert that people want technology to free them from having to change their lifestyles, so that they can simply go on with life as usual.
There are, of course, critics of their book, and maybe the “truth” does lie somewhere in-between. But the reality is that our lifestyles must change. We cannot and must not go on “as usual” hoping for a miracle technology to save us from ourselves.
In eaarth MAKING A LIFE ON A TOUGH NEW PLANET, a profound, disturbing, yet hopeful book, Bill McKibben, an environmentalist and leader of the climate campaign group 350.org makes the case that global warming has already occurred and is irreversible.
The good news is that he sees a future in which humanity transitions from unbridled growth and dependence on outside markets for food and other necessities, including of course energy driven by fossil fuel.
The alternative he offers is that we transition into smaller, self-contained communities that grow food locally and generate sustainable electricity which can be distributed. Already a number of towns have begun to embrace this new concept.
We must wake up to this reality and choose to live as though global warming is here, because it is. An “inconvenient truth” Al Gore has said, but truth just the same.
Accepting this fact should give you more incentive to change your lifestyle, to think twice in the supermarket or when heading out to do some shopping, or heading to Amazon.com. It should drive you to look more deeply into the social structures and needs within your very own community and to become more politically engaged.
Global warming is here. We are in an environmental crisis. Let us choose to live accordingly, proactively and optimistically. A suggestion for transitioning into this new world is to make a pledge to yourself to stop unnecessary shopping, let’s say for clothing, to have a “low buy” or “no buy” year.
Some steps to follow:
- Remind yourself daily why you made this decision to stop shopping. (The US Environmental Protection Agency estimates that in 2017 10.4 million metric tons of textiles ended up in landfills while another 2.9 million metric tons were incinerated. The reality is no one wants your old discarded clothes.)
- Make a budget to keep track of your spending
- Take an inventory of the clothing you own
- Declutter – give away or donate to charities items you have not worn in a year or more
- Remember how shocked you were by the amount of used clothing and other discarded items piled up at a recent rummage sale
- Share this journey with others and tell them why you have embarked upon it
- If not clothing, ask yourself if there are other things you may find yourself obsessively or mindlessly purchasing, items which too, in time, will contaminate the Earth.
Following is one of my favorite Mary Oliver poems.
When I am Among the Trees
When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.
I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.
Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.
And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”
I find this song by Melissa Etheridge inspiring. But sadly, it was recorded in 2005!!
Wishing peace and health to you and your loved ones.
Thank you for being on this journey.
Till next time,
Jensen, Derrick, Lierre Keith, Max Wilbert. Bright Green Lies. New York: Monkfish Press, 2021.
McKibben, Bill. eaarth MAKING A LIFE ON A TOUGH NEW PLANET. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2010.