It mostly goes without saying, for long gaps on this blog at least, that the reason Green is so compelling as a stand-in for sustainability is that it also happens to be highly useful slang for money. And has been for what’s going on an epoch, in any meaningful sense.
It’s the double-entendre that provides its edge – as divergent as the two meanings in one word are. Incoherent is more like it, but just enough to provide a little of each to lap over onto the other and provide some of the ambiguity that might pull us through the rough patch where our pursuit of money has outdistanced its effective ability to shield us from the consequences of its single-minded pursuit. Vagueness is a currency that itself can and will lose effectiveness as the clearly-spelled out cruelties of life re-assert themselves. We’ll hope for vague cover again, to attempt surreptitious movement toward better, more sensible pursuits. Because we can’t do it out in the open.
All this is to point up the way green as money has stepped to center stage again, becoming more precious as its gotten tighter, even more precious than the precarious fate of the planet on which it is spent, invested, given and taken. It’s pitiable but this is the way it is – the way we are. This mentality leads with ‘we will become more energy efficient/invest in new sources of renewable energy when we can afford to’. It ends up where? Like capitalism or any ism, it doesn’t care. Only we can show concern or guard special preferences. We have to decide some things. Like when we might be able to afford to become less wasteful, for one.
And as quickly as the massive financial losses spilled into the open this fall, the money is crawling back into its holes as fast as possible. It might even be able to provide the cover of vagueness again soon and enable us to return to making more (safely) ambiguous motions toward sustainability and ‘going green’. But we won’t be able to decide or allocate anything in any different way as long as this trend remains in tact.