Craig Wisner

Green is the Color of Money

The other day my mom mentioned to me that Wal-Mart is “going green” and is currently one of the leaders in the “green” movement amongst corporations.

I told her that building an empire on cheap plastic goods being shipped by the megaton from China can never be green.  Anything based on consumerism cannot really be “green”.  This seemed to shock her; she went on to explain how they are putting in solar panels, carrying more “green” products, etc.

I’ve thought back to this video quite a bit since then, feeling it does a fairly good job of raising the issue.

This will not be solved through capitalism or consumerism.  It’s bigger than biodegradable dish soap, low-watt bulbs, and electric cars.

Which has led me to wonder:

  • Can this be solved? (I doubt it.)
  • How can there be any lasting social change or any solution to ecological crisis or loss of species if humans no longer have any connection to the land?

Thinking back again to the concept of thresholds, I fear that the way in which civilization alienates people from the land also creates a situation in which people have a near-infinite threshold for ecological destruction and species loss.  As in, they will tolerate any amount of it, because ultimately they cannot relate.  How much rainforest would have to be destroyed before people take a serious look at stopping the forces that cause it?  Barring a complete collapse or drop in population prior to then, I fear the answer is all of it.  All of it will have to go and I fear even then our civilization will not understand.  Thus the threshold, when disconnected from the land, is infinite.

Which has led me to question the concept of “the land”, “our land”.  There are many meaning at work here; there is the land, as in the stuff under your feet, the ~5,365 square feet that I own.  And then there is the land, as in the land that makes up our watersheds, our forests, habitat for non-human species, rivers, lakes, oceans…People will fight for their land in the small sense; if someone encroached upon or tried to destroy part of my 5,365 sq. feet, I would try to stop them, possibly physically.  Yet if a developer were clearing a massive tract of local chaparral, would I fight?  Would I fight beyond writing a letter?  Beyond petitioning or protesting?  Would you?

Thus the disconnect from the land.  This is largely in part to the fact that we no longer subsist off of our land.  If my food and water came from the tract that the developer wanted to clear, perhaps I would feel differently.

This is where civilization is so successful.  By outsourcing everything, all connections are severed.  There is no land to protect because there are no hunting grounds.  We do not use the land (land in the latter sense above) for anything anymore, there is no connection; practically, spiritually, or otherwise.  If there is a connection, it is often purely recreational.

How hard would you fight to save a recreational activity?

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