Monday, February 11, 2008

How Green Is My Washing (The Very Convenient Truth)

One of the points that my new book, A Very Convenient Truth, raises is that Satan has his fingers all over the environmental issue. The confusion and division brought by the myriad issues is one of the most telling signs, and we got another reminder of that in a letter to the editor in this morning's Vancouver Sun.

Offsetting CO2 doesn't reduce the damage
The Vancouver Sun
Mon 11 Feb 2008 Page: A10

Re: Estimate of emissions by sources for the 2010 Winter Games, Jan. 25
I am so very disappointed by the involvement of the David Suzuki Foundation in helping to "greenwash" the 2010 Olympics. The foundation has done some excellent work over the years, but now seem to have forgotten its radical roots.

In endorsing a so-called zero emission Winter Games, by "offsetting" carbon dioxide emissions, the foundation is misleading the Games organizers and the general public into thinking we can buy our way out of eventual carbon rationing. Offsetting does not "neutralize each tonne of emissions" as the article claims, nor is it one of the "real solutions to global warming"; the CO2 is still released, the non-renewable fossil fuel is consumed, and the world and its people are still harmed.

With offsetting, moreover, there is no change in behaviour and the damage continues.
Elsewhere in the article is the phrase "but there are major emissions for the Games that can't be avoided." Nonsense.

The Olympics should be in the same place every four years: Greece would seem obvious for the Summer Games. Only the athletes, forgotten in the current capitalist feeding frenzy, would travel there, slowly by train or bus or boat. We would then watch them compete on television. That would have been an imaginative response from the Suzuki Foundation.

Stephen Hill
North Vancouver

There it is, friends: a schism in the environmental movement, as a long-respected organization, bearing the name of a long-respected expert in the field, comes under attack from other environmentalists (and Stephen Hill isn't the only one) for endorsing the CO2 emissions plan of the 2010 Olympic games. The merits of the positions taken by both sides are immaterial at this point: the fact is, there's disagreement in the ranks, and more people are questioning the concept of "carbon offsets".

My book suggests that carbon offsets are the modern-day equivalent of granting indulgences in the Middle Ages -- buying your way to redemption ... or, in a more extreme way, suggesting that an adulterer can claim to be sin-free because he didn't actually murder anybody. Offsets are a sleight of hand, and if you have respiratory problems and live downwind of a major polluting factory in the Kootenays, it doesn't matter how much the factory owners invest in a wind farm in Peace Country.
The term is "greenwashing", and it's the unfortunate consequence of injecting business, capitalism and the profit motive into environmentalism.

"... the main motivation behind governments embracing 'green' technologies has been that there is a growing business trend in that area. Personally, I doubt that business-oriented conservative politicians like California's Arnold Schwarzenegger and British Columbia's Gordon Campbell became 'Born Again Environmentalists' becasue of a grand epiphany. There is really no coincidence that their new policies have come at a time when new technologies like biodiesel motor fuel, hybrid engines and wind generation are proving to be profitable ...

"Governments and businesses only see green when there's green to be seen. Profit-motivated enterprise is not a bad thing, but let's not mistake that for altruism in solving a worldwide crisis. If we were to take away the profit motive and the possibility that the entrepreneurs involved today could be a politician's well-heeled supporters tomorrow, we'd be back to burning coal and dumping raw sewage into rivers."
-- p. 20-21

A Very Convenient Truth calls us to remember the promises of God in dealing with the environment, just as in every other aspect of life. There is, in fact, an "original sin", which has led to the current situation and for which we must repent; thank God, He promises that when we do repent, He will wipe the slate clean and allow us to re-commit to what the book refers to as The First Great Assignment.

Furthermore, as we draw closer to God, He promises to take care of such matters as the land we live on and the air we breathe (referred to in the book as "the punch line").

BLATANT PLUG ALERT: A Very Convenient Truth is being sold directly, using the good old fashioned you-send-the-check-or-money-order-I-send-the-book marketing method (you know there won't be an identity theft problem that way!). It costs $20, and you can order it either by posting a comment here or emailing

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