I Hate Green Capitalism (first of a series)

I had never really looked at Treehugger.com, but today I did, finding a neat article there I just blogged below. Then I, just now, looked at the main site. Top post? Did you know that you can save money with an electric blanket?

This is my problem with green capitalism. It says: gee, if people turned down their thermostat they save energy and money. So far so good (I’m willing to admit saving money can be useful). But then, the solution. Get an electric blanket? How about insulating your damn house?

Green capitalism assumes that the solutions are found in products. That we just need more solar panels, not to use less energy. It’s insane. It’s not a solution. It’s just a smokescreen, to get everyone to think that the world can be saved if we just bought different things. The world cannot be fixed by buying new things! That’s the whole problem! Gah. I figure most of you know all of this anyhow.


4 thoughts on “I Hate Green Capitalism (first of a series)”

  1. I can see what you mean by this, and why it makes you angry. However, for someone like me, something like an electric blanket may actually be a good idea.

    You see, first off, I live in a rented house, so there is very little that I can do about it’s state of insulation. Secondly, even if I could, then I’ll be damned if I know what I could do with it, given that it’s a -very- old cottage with absolutely no roof space or wall cavities to put insulation into (the walls are solid stone and the ceilings on the first floor -are- the eaves of the roof), and all of the windows are already double-glazed. On top of all of this, there is no kind of heating besides the wood-burning stove in the front room, and I’ll tell you what, it gets bitterly, bitterly cold up here in Wales in the middle of winter when you live in a house with all of the above qualities.

    My tolerance to the cold isn’t so bad, all things considered, but even now in mid October I’m shivering at night while wearing three layers and sleeping under two duvets.

    The only other option I have (that I can see) would be to run the electric heater in the bedroom which is expensive and energy wasteful.

    I suppose what I’m saying is that it isn’t necessarily the products that are the problem, but the way that people are encouraged to use them.

    Mind you, I suppose that was actually the point of your rant, so how about we just both forget that I was ever here? :)

  2. One of the problems with radicalism is that it ignores the need for contextual, practical, incremental political action. Another is that it ignores that not everybody thinks alike, nor will they. Consider the implicit inverse of your argument: you want industries and consumers to be inefficient, wasteful and environmentally dangerous until such time as everybody in our society adopts an ethic of voluntary simplicity. To not want them to be inefficient, wasteful and environmentaly dangerous is, you assert, insane. Wanting them to remain inefficient, wasteful and environmentally dangerous in the meantime is a more valid overall solution to the environmental crisis of our times.

    But then we may be labouring under different definitions. You seem to be talking more about an endpoint consumer-based model. My understand of Green Capitalism from all of the enviro-ethics classes I took in my undergrad was a production/industry-based model that inverts Lemon Socialism with the recognition that being efficient and environmentally sound actually is better for business and profits. It’s less about whether or not you insulate your house and more about how the insulation is made, less about the electric blanket and more about where the energy to run it comes from.

  3. cory: we are, a bit, working under different definitions. In sum, I believe that capitalism has donned a guise of green, not with the end result of reducing our impact on the earth, but rather to sell more crap.

    What I’m for, aside from a certain degree of voluntary simplicity, is rather a more directed and thought-out method of creating solutions. IE, lets invent ways of re-insulated already-constructed homes and lets start constructing better insulated homes. It’s more about a better focus of the application of science, what I’m advocating.

    Capitalist solutions to a capitalist problem seem disingenuous to me. This is not to say that all of the problems of modern society are caused by capitalism, but certainly the problem of obsessive production is a capitalist one (and yes, a soviet one, but that is a tangent). Basically, “more things” won’t be the solution to this problem.

    I’ve actually got no real problem with incremental change, although I would argue we might not have the time for most of it. It’s just when people think that these incremental changes are actually solutions, rather than the first baby step. And believe me, green capitalism markets this crap as solutions.

  4. The solution to the problem of environmental destruction is to protect the environment. How that is done is always a tentative means to an end that addresses that problem in its context. That is as true of Voluntary Simplicity as it is of Green Capitalism. Everything from alternative fuel to home insulation to sustainable economics to going off the grid are tentative means to the solution, not solutions in themselves.

    I remember having a discussion with a friend of mine who talked her place of employment into enacting a more rigorous green policy. She succeeded, but angsted to me that the immediate reaction of the owners to her proposal was that going green would be great advertizing. They were protecting the environment for the wrong reasons!

    As much as it might offend our pietistic emphasis on motivation, there is a lot to be said for the effect. If Capitalists are turning to more efficient, less wasteful and environmentally safer means of production, is why they’re doing it more important than the fact that they’re doing it? Would we rather they didn’t just because it’s for reasons we disagree with?

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