*Editor’s note: This guest comment is in response to John Carlson’s column, “WIRED magazine: going green not all it’s cracked up to be?”
Carlson raises good points that the Green movement has not come of age. But the point of the Green movement is that Western culture has not come of age. We have not used our technological advances to live in harmony or limit our damage to the planet and each other. The Green movement is at least looking to make our lifestyle sustainable. Carlson is just looking the other way.
I realized the “Green” movement was out of whack when my box lunch (made by “Organic-to-Go”) at an environmental conference included an apple that had been pre-sliced and sealed in plastic. Why improve on packaging God has already made perfect?
But many of Carlson’s WIRED-cited suggestions make just as little sense. Cut down old-growth forests to plant younger trees? The idea only makes sense in a vacuum. Old-growth forests serve many purposes that young ones don’t, including providing habitat for many species, preventing soil erosion and protecting shade-growing fauna that do absorb carbon. Going Green is not about tackling problems like climate change in isolation, but about realizing how everything is connected together.
Likewise, the argument for keeping growth hormones and pesticides in the foods we grow only makes sense if you feel comfortable recommending steroids and poison as part of your child’s complete, balanced breakfast.
True, the Manhattan way of life is the greenest we have in America. But the values of consumption and materialism promoted by marketers and media companies based there are not. They lead to multi-car garages and water-drunk lawns that leave less room for the rest of life on this planet. They also turn “Green” into a fad, feeding the cycle of newer and better, when true Green should be about finding satisfaction with what we already have (including Geo Metros).
In running this beautiful planet, God gives us everything we need in order to eat, move, play, get around and be happy. The problem, both with some of Carlson’s ideas and the “Green” bandwagon he criticizes, is the idea that we can do better.
~Andrew Varyu, a graduate of Lake Washington High School, is a student at Harvard Divinity School and the founder of ITSCOOL, a social enterprise that gets children and citizens active in response to climate change.