Mirth Day

The idea of a consumer-led environmental movement has pollution-belching multi-nationals rolling in the aisles — and the joke is on you
By DAVID S. BERNSTEIN  |  November 7, 2007


Power to the people (not)
General Electric, which kicks up 11 million metric tons of greenhouse gases every year, has recently touted to its shareholders that “green is green,” meaning that there are profits in the trend of eco-living. GE’s “ecomagination” division, launched two years ago (with a reported $90 million ad campaign), will soon be bringing in $20 billion a year in revenue, the company announced at a recent meeting of shareholders, who were also told that GE, the country’s fifth-largest public company, “has never had an initiative that has generated better financial returns so quickly.”
Eco-living is the new opiate of the masses. The captains of industry have duped you — like master magicians, they have used simple tricks and toys to divert your attention from the real source of global catastrophe, tucked securely up their sleeves. They could not be more pleased that you and your fellow self-satisfied saps expend your righteous Earth-saving efforts in pursuit not of them but of your own lighting fixtures and water bottles — while they merrily maintain an unfettered raping of the planet.

Do you really think that the colossal effects of global warming will be staved off by household habits? Understand this: right now, global mega-giants are bankrolling the development of emerging economies in Macao, Kazakhstan, and elsewhere. Because of our country’s policy and outreach failures, they are charging forward in ways that will maximize the return on their investments, not minimize the greenhouse-gas impact for the next century or so. The difference will be measurable in tens of thousands of teragrams of greenhouse gases a year.

Developing countries are where it’s at for controlling the problem in the long term. China will probably surpass the United States in total CO2 emissions this year, according to the US Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center. Its output is growing at roughly 10 percent per year, largely due to the staggering pace of new coal-burning plants being built there to support manufacturing facilities, which are needed to meet the frenzied demand of its trading partners, like us. Kazakhstan — driven by oil and natural-gas reserves — increased its per-capita CO2 emissions a stunning 60 percent from 1999 to 2004, according to United Nations data. India, with a sixth of the world’s people, is on an upward emissions curve, as are South Africa, Malaysia, Egypt, Nigeria, Thailand, Yemen, Namibia, Oman, and many other Third World nations.

Supposedly squeaky-green Europe doesn’t exactly have clean hands, either, as it accounts for some 11 percent of the world’s CO2 emissions — with numbers rising in several member nations.

Have you mentioned to your congressperson recently that you’d like the US to get on the ball with that? Or have you been too busy riding your bicycle to the store that sells food grown within the right eco-distance of your house — or changing your lightbulbs, perhaps? As you’ve probably heard, if one million American households each changed four lightbulbs to eco-friendly fluorescent, we would eliminate 900,000 tons of greenhouse gases a year. That’s less than one teragram, or about one-seventh of the emissions of just the US rice-cultivation industry.

Dirty money, dirty air
Surely the directed efforts of one million households could accomplish more.

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