Better a “Green” Than a Greenback

“I’m mean and I’m clean

and I’m proud to be green!”

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This doesn’t have to happen

In the battle that pits the oil and gas industry against citizens seeking to minimize the damage done when extracting carbon-based materials entrenched deep and firmly below the earth’s surface, a war of words comes into play.  Words that do little to truly inform the public but are more useful trying to cast a negative image of the adversaries

Sometimes though a choice of a word meant to demean or diminish one’s status actually serves the cause being attacked.   Such is the case with the word “greens” the oil and gas industry uses to refer to their opponents who fight to prevent gas wells being drilled in their neighborhoods or oil drilling in pristine arctic regions.

It’s meant as an epithet not unlike what environmentalists experienced from big coal & oil along with the lumber industry in the 1970’s following the advent of Earth Day; the grass roots movement that tried to bring air and water pollution to the forefront as a result of unchecked industrial waste deposits.  “Treehugger” is still to this day used derisively by some.

When used by advocates for oil and gas drilling “greens” are portrayed as anti-capitalists and obstacles to low energy prices as well as job creation.  These of course are specious arguments made by the fossil fuel interests and often contradictory to the facts.

“According to the 2014 Wind Technologies Market Report, wind saw the most growth of any power source in the U.S. last year with total installed wind power capacity reaching a total of 65.9 gigawatts (GW) in 2014—enough capacity to power over 17.5 million homes.
Further, the study found, the cost of wind energy reached an all-time low last year, falling to 2.35 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), making this renewable resource competitive with so-called traditional power sources across much of the U.S.”     SOURCE
The price of wind and solar power continues to plummet, and is now on par or cheaper than grid electricity in many areas of the world. Solar, the newest major source of energy in the mix, makes up less than 1 percent of the electricity market today but could be the world’s biggest single source by 2050, according to the International Energy Agency.     SOURCE

“Far more jobs have been created in wind and solar in recent years than lost in the collapse of the coal industry, and renewable energy is poised for record growth in the United States this year.”    SOURCE

I find it amazing that someone would think being called a green would have diminishing effects on a movement that will eventually supplant dirty, finite fossil fuels.  Green is the color of new life.  New life injects renewed hope and promotes prosperity for the future.  So to be labeled a green by the fossil fuel interests is not only stupid, it’s counter productive to the advocates of oil, coal and gas who have nothing clean and healthy to hide behind.

Tons of toxic emissions each day are spewed into the air we breathe and the water we drink.  It takes gargantuan efforts and tremendous cost we all absorb to eliminate these impurities to dubious safe levels.  The process from extraction to supply outlets creates some of the most hazardous jobs on earth.  If you are not maimed or killed from doing such work your long-term health suffers from working within close proximity to carcinogens like benzene and airborne particulate matter like soot and smoke.

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To distract consumers from this very real threat the industry falls back on the old standby of economic gains we are supposed to derive from cheap fossil fuels.  While supplies last, energy costs for gasoline and home and business use are at some of the lowest prices in decades.  But when supply runs short or becomes more expensive to access, which is rapidly occurring, it will only be affordable for the wealthiest among us and then in small quantities.  In the meantime burning coal, oil and natural gas creates health and safety issues for workers and people who live in close proximity to production sites.

These health and safety issues equate into out-of-pocket expenses for people, many who struggle to make ends meet in today’s low wage economy.  And then of course there is the real problem of green house gas (GHGs) buildup in the atmosphere in the form of CO2, methane and nitrous oxide.  This buildup of GHGs in our atmosphere is creating a barrier that traps heat radiation from escaping back out into space, seriously warming the planet at a faster rate than would naturally occur.

Because these threats to our well-being are slow to materialize and not easily visible on our economic radar screens, they have difficulty competing with the more apparent but short-sighted need to source cheap energy for our cars and homes.  Thus the advantage goes to the fossil fuel industry.  For consumer and producer alike it is the color of green that also marks this advantage but not the healthy, new life green that comes from renewable infinite sources of energy.  It’s the green color of money that goes toward industry profits and short-term savings for consumers.  Savings that are sadly being offset by the higher health care costs incurred from burning coal, oil and gas.

The before and after to the Canadian boreal forests when the tar sands are through with them

“Not in my back yard!”

So in a war of words, you would think the “greens” have the better image than the greenbacks.  There is no shame in fighting to replace our dependence on dirty, finite sources of energy and opening avenues where wind, solar and bio-fuels can proliferate.  It is these cleaner energy sources that project a new and healthy future for our planet that green represents.

The “greenbacks” on the other hand tend to be short-sighted people whose narrow, rigid outlook limits their focus to material well-being.  A focus that is often joyless and without substance to sustain us during those times when inanimate objects are a poor substitute for human affection and compassion.

This doesn’t make them villains or evil people.  It is inherently human to exhibit self-interests.  But there’s a limit to such behavior when the individual is constantly put before the collective need of a community.  When greenback$ come before a green healthy life it’s the cart preceding the horse.

Being called a green by supporters of carbon based energy sources derived from fossil fuels is like a healthy, non-smoker being vilified by a person who has contracted lung cancer from years and years of cigarette smoking.  The denial that both cigarette smoker and fossil fuel advocate exhibit is merely a ruse to conceal how they’ve planted the seeds of their own demise while dragging the rest of us along with them.

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16 responses to “Better a “Green” Than a Greenback

  1. I have been fighting for a clean environment for a long time….I have always been a recycler since the program was introduced in my area….but I read a piece about a year ago that said that only about 20% of items recycled are actually done so the rest goes in the ground like all other trash…..depressing….

    • Not to mention that 30% of all food people purchase at grocery stores gets thrown out. Just imagine the colossal waste involved in that:

      – all the resources used to manufacture & distribute the chemicals, pesticides, gasoline, etc used by farmers to grow that 30% of food. Then factor in the “meat middleman effect”. Because animals burn calories over the course of their lives, meat increases the amount of crops needed to produce the same amount of meat calories. Plus the resources used to water, warm/cool & house them.
      – the fossil fuel used to transport and store that 30% of food.
      – the resources consumers use to transport, package & store the food that we’ll throw out.
      – the resources used to take that food to the dump.

      Think of those resources and all the money used to produce/buy food we just put in the garbage….Meanwhile, a billion of The Poors around the world are starving.

      • I agree and I watched Spaniards throw tomatoes at each other in some festival…..I am sure some kid in Sudan would love to have one of them…..game shows that waste food…..pathetic….I like the idea some stores are trying….the selling of “used food”…not really just the discolored or “old” fruit and veggies at a cheaper price….it is a start…..chuq

      • Anytime, future Councillor Woodgate. It’s my job unpaid volunteer position to make everyone miserable to the point of suicide. It’s about the last thing I still enjoy in life. 🙂

        But wasted food? That’s one that REALLY burns my ass! We in the West do it out of sheer laziness and wastefulness. We have so much that we just let it rot, even as it wastes tonnes of resources, labour and a lot of money. We throw out 30% of our food, then we have the nerve to bitch about food prices, oil prices and even Climate Change…all of which is increased by our wastefulness.

        I grew up listening to my dad’s true tales of post WW2 East Germany. They had to comb over (nationalized) farm fields to look for potatoes too small for the machines to catch. Half the times they needed bread, they wound up having to walk to other towns to see if they had any. So when I see bloated, North American, fat-asses just tossing food out while much of the world starves, I often wish “the other side” won the Cold War, just so I could watch these spoiled gluttons suffer.

        But that’s just me 😉

      • Some of the finer restaurants throw out food that is still edible and of better quality that many low income people can purchase for themselves. What a waste.

  2. Just recently, I believe it was Denmark that has passed the point where all of its electricity is being generated from green sources. I wish the President would take the tack that “What, Denmark can do it and we can’t?”

  3. It’s the same ploy Conservatives use with the word, Liberal. I find it hilarious if someone tries to “call” me a Liberal. “YES! I am, and proud of it. What’s your excuse”? 🙂

    • I’m thinking about having a T-shirt made in my red state town of Denton that says “Have you hugged a liberal today” just to watch the reactions. I understand of course the risk involved in a place where open-carry is legal, but what they hey! 🙂

    • It all depends. If the history books being used in schools in the future still reflect much of what the Texas state school board of education prohibits, this chapter in our history will be omitted. 😦

  4. ” The “greenbacks” on the other hand tend to be short-sighted people whose narrow, rigid outlook limits their focus to material well-being. A focus that is often joyless and without substance… This doesn’t make them villains or evil people.” -Woodgate

    No, I think it does make them evil, especially given the immense suffering & destruction involved in their shallow, selfish, pursuits. And it also makes them incredibly stupid.

    They control the most valuable resource on the planet. It’s a diminishing resource that will only increase in value over time. Yet these imbeciles are cranking it out as fast as they possibly can, to the point where prices are currently crashing, even though demand continues to rise every decade…and will for most, if not all, of the century.

    If I had millions of barrels of oil, I’d sell only enough to build my massive, indestructible, off-grid, mansion/survival bunker (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pensmore) and store the rest in the underground storage facility beneath it until the price for a barrel was above $50,000.

    Aside from the evil caused by their actions, 30-40 years down the road, people will look at these morons worse than we now look at the folks who considered natural gas useless crap to be burned off before you get to the good stuff.

    “It is inherently human to exhibit self-interests.” – Woodgate

    It is inherently human to commit evil. To me, the term “evil people” is largely redundant.

    • HTML is also evil. So was the elimination of the old option to “preview” comments before posting them.

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