“I’m mean and I’m clean
and I’m proud to be green!”
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.
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