The Green Mile

The distance that runs between what we need to do for the planet and keeping everything going just as it is, if not a little better. This supports another reason why the green is so compelling as a word for something we don’t understand and, simultaneously, know only too well.

An article in the New Republic spoons up the conventional wisdom on green and greening, how its fashion star has faded and what that  and ten cents will get you after polls prove how we’ll chose economic growth over the environment every time, as if that was anything more than one of the multiple answers supplied by the survey. Jeesh.

And then, almost as quickly as it had inflated, the green bubble burst. Between January 2008 and January 2009, the percentage of Americans who told the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press that the environment was a “top priority” dropped from 56 percent to 41 percent. While surveys have long showed that enthusiasm for all things green is greatest among well-educated liberals, the new polling results were sobering. For the first time in a quarter century, more Americans told Gallup in March that they would prioritize economic growth “even if the environment suffers to some extent” than said they would prioritize environmental protection “even at the risk of curbing economic growth.” Soon thereafter, Shell announced it would halt its investments in solar and wind power.

Alright. But let’s not underplay this ‘green bubble’ idea as just another noctural, if speculatory, emission. It’s easy to do that, but still. Test yourself. What if the bubble is actually about the fact that the virtue of this necessity is not our requirement that it must co-exist with a romanticized view of the simple life, but that the over-leveraged, wasteful, fossil fuel-dependent life as we demand it IS the bubble?

It may be pleasant to imagine resource scarcity as a kind of hype that we can become less infatuated with and leave by the roadside, but the whole point was that we have to change the way we live not becuase it’s somehow musty or uncool but because the short-sightedness on which it is based is destroying the planet.

Separating our economic troubles from our environmental concerns should be the thing that seems passe’, no?