The End of Green
This post originally published in the December 2015 edition of The Polytechnic Reporter, one of the official newspaper of the second oldest engineering school in the United States.
I have always disliked the term “green.” The term is mired in ambiguity and loopholes that need further explanation, and even those explanations need explanations. What does “being green” mean? Recycling is being green, right? So is driving a Prius, I think. What about exercising? That has to be green since I’m making something healthier. Sure, I suppose it is — now slap a sticker on it, and write it off on your tax returns. Feel free to boast to all your friends about the good you have done, and call it a day.
Green, to me, is a politician’s world. It is conciliatory, placatory, and ego-stroking. In the modern era, green is a buzz word that instantly moves the conversation in a certain direction. At one point in time, the conversation was centered on whether there was an actual need to be green. Yet, as we’ve weathered the storm of nay-sayers and “J.R. Ewings,” green has come to be a term thrown around to illicit a higher sense of morality. However, few truly wish to live and burden themselves with the true, often difficult, lifestyle of carbon-neutrality. This reticence shall be our downfall, as we sit complacently behind our shields of green and gold.
The time, then, has come to cast away the term “green” from our vernacular. For governments and industry to truly make an impact, and truthfully they are the only ones who can breed change, a truly earnest effort must be made to change the world for the better. This starts with casting away the term “green” because of its implication. Green implies that there is a separation of eco-mindedness from everyday life. I argue that government and industry must work actively to integrate eco-mindedness into their practices.
A building should not be built, and then made carbon-neutral. Similarly, the building should not be built to be carbon-neutral. Instead, carbon-neutrality should be an underlying assumption of all development. Rather than being equated with the environment, authorities must equate eco-mindedness with safety and survival. In fact, one might go so far as to say that at the very heart of eco-mindedness is the animalistic instinct to survive. Sustainability, an oft over- used eco-term, refers to planning for the future as well as the present. This new notion of safety starts with fostering the future of the world: the children.
By instilling the children with the belief that safety and eco-mindedness are a way of life, this coming generation may be able to stand up to the adversity. This coming generation may be able to lead the government and industry not in just “greening” the planet, but in finally making the planet safe for all life. For without this viewpoint, it is not simply natural catastrophes that will rock the planet.
There is no doubt that the human race will imminently face a grave disaster. And I will admit that I am a doomsayer. I genuine believe we have forsaken this planet to die. However, I do not believe this is the end of humanity. The future, if we are discussing true safety, exists on a different planet. While our technological capacity cannot reverse time, they do allow us to explore the depths of our solar system. It is our primal urge to explore, and this planet has outgrown us. I am calling for the end of the “new green revolution” and the “eco-revolution.” Instead, I advocate governments enact a permanent revolution, which does not just place eco- mindedness at the forefront, but places future-mindedness at the forefront.