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GlobalNet21: Recreating Our Futures Message Board 21st Century Network Discussion Forum (Archive) › Time For A New Green Agenda By Tim Harper

Time For A New Green Agenda By Tim Harper

Francis S.
1102154
Group Organizer
London, GB
Post #: 153
Yesterday’s meeting started me thinking about why, despite some NGO finding another potential climate related catastrophe almost every day, there is a feeling of frustration and a lack of progress. It looks to be the fault of the Green movement itself.

If we take a look at the history of the environmental movement, most if it sprang from the anti establishment movement of the early seventies, when people were fighting against corporate greed and government inaction. This was inexorably linked with left of centre politics, and into this rainbow coalition were drawn all of the other popular movements demanding an end to war, liberation for Palestine, legalisation of LSD and a whole variety of other causes. As a result, it is hard to get any rational discussion of environmental issues without running into some rather naive anti capitalist rhetoric, and this probabl;y goes some way to explaining the Green movements confrontational stance. In a nutshell, they are a bunch of old hippies, still fighting the battles of 1975 in 2009 because a) that is all they know how to do and b) there is a natural human instinct to try to preserve the status quo even if you started off fighting to overturn it.

If we look at the green leaders we see people such as Lord Jonathon Porrit and George Monbiot, sitting pontificating about how people should live their lives from a position of unimaginable privilege when viewed from most of the developing world. I have been in plenty of meetings with this strata of the green movement where people have had the arrogance to try to deny developing nations the very technology which would allow them to start improving standards of living. “We’d rather let them starve than risk using GMOs” seems to be the rather depressing view, which completely missed the point that while we in the west are rich enough to waffle on about downshifting, and slacking for the several billion other people living in grinding poverty would result in an early death.

Let’s face it, cycling to work or trading tomatoes for lettuces with your neighbour might make you feel better, but isn’t going to save the world, so what is?

Well it has to start with economic growth. Population will continue to rise anyway, and contrasting the living standards in London and Lagos illustrates why money is important. So demanding that x% of GDP be spent on mitigating climate changes isn’t really going to work because that money is being raised through green taxes which just takes more money out of the economy and leaves less of a margin to do good works with. But stimulating economic growth doesn’t necessarily mean pollution, as I mentioned yesterday the environment in the UK is actually getting cleaner and greener while at the same time we have got considerably richer.

It seems that the established Green movement knows only how to use the stick - taxes and scare stories - and not the carrot to change peoples behaviour. Nudge by Richard Thaler would be a good place to start looking for ideas. In addition this obsession with technology being bad is really holding back progress. technology isn’t all bad, as you’ll find out if you ever need to go into hospital.

The other thing that we can do to make a real difference is to encourage the development of, and if safe, the deployment of the whole range of new and emerging technologies that can address climate change. Should we be bothered that an entrepreneur or a company that comes up with a way to make a major difference to carbon dioxide emissions gets rich on the back of it? Of course not, we should applaud it and hope that it it will encourage others to try. There are a huge range of technologies, from nanotechnologies in thin film solar cells, through to engineering carbon capturing microbes using synthetic biology to solar shaded and geoengineering that we need to develop.

Groups such as Friends of the Earth and ETC have fought tooth and claw, and in the dirtiest possible way to encourage the wholesale rejection of technologies. It’s these old hippies with their 1975 mindsets that need to be rejected, not technology. Let’s forget the politics and see some action. If their approach is not appropriate for the 21st century then wither replace them or start a movement that is.
A former member
Post #: 131
'Groups such as Friends of the Earth and ETC have fought tooth and claw, and in the dirtiest possible way to encourage the wholesale rejection of technologies. It’s these old hippies with their 1975 mindsets that need to be rejected, not technology. Let’s forget the politics and see some action. If their approach is not appropriate for the 21st century then wither replace them or start a movement that is.'


Absolute nonsense, Friends of the Earth has long advocated the use of new technology and energy efficiency. Groups like FOE have been proved right about many issues. Many times they have attacked by corporations and governments defending their own vested interest, not wanting to change, yet ultimately winning the argument.

FOE has never been against the right technology. However often technology, while appearing attractive is not always the solution to environmental problems. An example of that is waste to energy incineration which is actually promoted by the packaging industry. The industry argues that there is nothing wrong with packaging because it can be incinerated and energy generated from it. It’s a way of using technology to avoid having to deal the real problem.

Similar with cars, flying etc. Technology can help but its only part of the solution.

A former member
Post #: 132
'Yesterday’s meeting started me thinking about why, despite some NGO finding another potential climate related catastrophe almost every day, there is a feeling of frustration and a lack of progress. It looks to be the fault of the Green movement itself'

Its the green movement that warned of the problems. It hardly the green movmements fault if corporatons and goverments don't act.
A former member
Post #: 133

'It seems that the established Green movement knows only how to use the stick'

Nonsense. FOE has long advocated solutions such as energy efficiency, integrated public transport system and a sustainable waste management policy.

Of course, if an organisation wants to avoid changing, one method they often use it to attack environmental groups
A former member
Post #: 2
It's the idea that there has to a dichotomy between being environmentally beneficial and capitalism that is a particularly poisonous idea. The stark fact is that technologies - whether energy efficient lighting or wind farms - are developed by companies in order to make a profit.

If FoE etc stopped playing left wing politics and just got on with the job they claim to do then their message would be clearer and much more effective.
A former member
Post #: 135
It's the idea that there has to a dichotomy between being environmentally beneficial and capitalism that is a particularly poisonous idea. The stark fact is that technologies - whether energy efficient lighting or wind farms - are developed by companies in order to make a profit.

If FoE etc stopped playing left wing politics and just got on with the job they claim to do then their message would be clearer and much more effective.

FOE do not play left wing politics. If they opposed something then there is a a good reason. Corporations such as Shell and Total are evill bastards.
A former member
Post #: 137
It's the idea that there has to a dichotomy between being environmentally beneficial and capitalism that is a particularly poisonous idea. The stark fact is that technologies - whether energy efficient lighting or wind farms - are developed by companies in order to make a profit.

If FoE etc stopped playing left wing politics and just got on with the job they claim to do then their message would be clearer and much more effective.

an example of shell being evil is This year's AGM is particularly important as it comes a week before Shell face a trial in New York for complicity in the murder of award-winning environmental activist Ken Saro-Wiwa. It is the best opportunity in years to focus global attention on Shell's devastation of the Niger Delta. Nigerian writer and activist Ken Saro-Wiwa saw his homeland devastated by oil companies like Shell, He launched a nonviolent campaign to demand justice for his community. But Shell refused to listen, and worked with the Nigerian military to crush the locals that stood in their way. Saro-Wiwa and eight of his colleagues were hanged by the Nigerian government in 1995.

On Tuesday May 19th Shell will hold their AGM. As shareholders gather to review the years profits fires will roar in the Niger Delta, as the company illegally burns off the gas produced by their oil extraction. This practice has caused birth defects and cancer amongst the local population, trashes local streams and fields and emits more greenhouse gases than the whole of sub-Saharan Africa combined.

This year some of that heat from the Delta will be coming to the AGM. The ShellGuilty campaign (see: www.shellguilty.com) plans to bring the spectacle of fire-breathers and jugglers to the eyes of their UK financiers. If you are up for helping bring some heat to Shell's gathering (you don't need to be a fire-juggler!) drop me a line at richard AT remembersarowiwa.com. The action will only last around an hour and a half and will kick off at about 9am on Tuesday 19th May at the Barbican Centre where the UK part of the AGM is held.

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