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A new book has just been released that may put pins in so many balloons about environmental actions. The author of Green Gone Wrong, Heather Rogers, was interviewed May 4 on the CBC and said that people think they are doing the right thing but when the market starts demanding a certain trend, in this case “green”, companies will do whatever they have to to sell product. Worse, it can lead to “greenwashing” in which companies will do what they can to appear “green” when in fact, they’re not. (British Petroleum being a case in point.)

Here is a review of the book. You might add it to your list of “must reads” along with The War in the Country by Thomas Pawlick, and Hydro: the decine and fall of Ontario’s electric empire, by Swift and Stewart. (Keith Stewart, not Walter; Walter died too young a few years ago and is he missed now! What would the author of Too Big to Fail think about Ontario today?

Anyway, the review.

Green Gone Wrong

April 4, 2010

Green Gone Wrong

GLOBE-Net April 4, 2010 – Environmental writer Heather Rogers has cut through the marketing buzz associated with the green consumer movement and asks a simple question: Do today’s much-touted “green” products-carbon offsets, organic food, biofuels, and eco-friendly cars and homes-really work?

Implicit in efforts to go green is the promise that global warming can be stopped by swapping out dirty goods for “clean” ones, she asks;¬†but can earth-friendly products really save the planet?

Her soon to be released book – Green Gone Wrong explores how the most readily available solutions to environmental crisis may be disastrously off the mark. Rogers travels the world tracking how the conversion from a “petro” to a “green” society affects the most fundamental aspects of life-food, shelter, and transportation.

Reporting from some of the most remote places on earth, Rogers uncovers shocking results that include massive clear-cutting, destruction of native ecosystems, and grinding poverty. Relying simply on market forces, people with good intentions wanting to just “do something” to help the planet are left feeling confused and powerless.

Writing in the New York Times, book reviewer Devin Leonard notes “Ms. Rogers offers plenty of evidence that consumers who load up their shopping carts with organic food, for instance, may be unwittingly subsidizing big farm companies that are eradicating forests and defiling the soil in some developing countries. She says their governments aren’t as concerned about the environment, and well-intentioned nongovernmental organizations don’t have much clout.”

Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine notes “Heather Rogers reminds us with vivid examples that there’s no way we can just subcontract our environmental conscience to the new breed of green marketers. We have a very narrow window to preserve some version of our planet, and we can’t afford the kind of egregious mistakes this volume identifies with such precision. If it’s too good to be true, it’s not true–even if it comes with a shiny green wrapper.”

Green Gone Wrong reveals a fuller story, taking the reader into forests, fields, factories, and boardrooms around the world to draw out the unintended consequences, inherent obstacles, and successes of eco-friendly consumption. What do the labels “USDA Certified Organic” and “Fair Trade” really mean on a vast South American export-driven organic farm? A superlow-energy “eco-village” in Germany’s Black Forest demonstrates that green homes dramatically shrink energy use, so why aren’t we using this technology in America?

Rogers argues the decisions made in Detroit’s executive suites have kept Americans driving gas-guzzling automobiles for decades, even as U.S. automakers have European models that clock twice the mpg. “Why won’t they sell these cars domestically? And what does carbon offsetting really mean when projects can so easily fail? In one case thousands of trees planted in drought-plagued Southern India withered and died, releasing any CO2 they were meant to neutralize.”

This latter reference relates to her damning criticism of fashionably green rock bands whose members fly around the world and think they can erase their sizable carbon footprints by planting trees in developing countries.

“Around the world, many politicians, the conventional energy sector and manufacturers of all kinds oppose any major reduction in consumption,” Ms. Rogers writes.

“If people start using less, then economies based on consumption – such as that of the United States, where buying goods and services comprises 70 percent of all economic activity – will be forced to undergo a colossal transformation.”

Notes Leonard, “Even if you don’t agree with all of Ms. Rogers’ assertions – and I don’t – they are not so easily dismissed. “Green Gone Wrong” is well-written and exhaustively reported. The author went to places like Uruguay, Borneo and India to show problems she says the green movement has inadvertently created.” Expertly reported, this expos√© pieces together a global picture of what’s happening in the name of today’s environmentalism.

Green Gone Wrong speaks to anyone interested in climate change and the future of the natural world, as well as those who want to act but are caught not knowing who, or what, to believe to protect the planet. Rogers casts a sober eye on what’s working and what’s not, fearlessly pushing ahead the debate over how to protect the planet.

‘Green Gone Wrong’: Can Capitalism Save the Planet? is to be released later this month,

Source: books.simonandschuster.com
Source 2: www.nytimes.com

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The North Gower Wind Action Group can be reached at northgowerwindactiongroup@yahoo.ca

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