Green is Good, or Is It?

Marita Noon
 
Issue CCLX - September 18, 2010
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“Greed is good” became the mantra of the late 1980s. However as Gordon Gecko found out, too much greed, was not good. On September 24, Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps, comes out and the movie’s trailer has the old mantra on the mind of the public once again.

 

Today, that saying sounds outdated. Replacing it would be the slogan, “green is good.”

 

Anything or anyone who can label themselves as “green” has a perceived marketing advantage. Without fully understanding the implications of “green,” people support the “green” concept as generally being better for the environment. Without a specific universal definition of “green” products as diverse as political candidates, diapers, and cars proudly sport the moniker.

 

When it come to energy, green—typically referring to wind, solar, and biomass—is definitely the preferred way to go (even when not economically viable or beneficial).

 

A recent poll done by Public Opinion Strategies, indicated that while the vast majority of respondents acknowledged that natural gas was “important” or “very important” to their state’s economy, more than a third of those same people believed that green energy should be pursued rather than natural gas. “Green is good.”

 

But like greed, could too much green be bad?

 

Public perception seems to be “too much green is never enough;” green campaigns deserve implementation. Green is the driver for American energy policy.

 

What would the world look like if we could wave a magic wand and suddenly make the wishes of the environmental thought leaders come true?

 

The answer requires researching what the environmental groups, such as the Sierra Club, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, and Trout Unlimited, are proposing—which I did. I looked at the well-known groups and smaller, regional, and/or specifically targeted issue groups to draft a broad view of the environmentalists’ goals as they relate to energy. My initial work was done three years ago and was mostly used for my personal education. However, the poll data I received highlighted the disconnect between the “green is good” perception and reality. I dug out my study and updated it with fresh research and it has now been made available to politicians and the public through the popular inside-the-beltway publication: The Hill.

 

So what would the world look like if the environmentalists were in charge? Would it be the “environmental utopia” we’d expect? Would we have “rivers and streams running so clear and clean that you can bend a knee to the water, cup your hands, and drink without fear,” as one website states as their goal? Would we be able to “explore, enjoy and protect wild places of the earth,” [i] as another posits? Would environmental utopia feature a “rural character” and a “unique quality of life,”[ii] as proposed by yet another?

 

Hardly.

 

By using the combined energy goals of the 25 different groups I analyzed and applying them to four key areas, transportation, modern conveniences, health, and housing, it became clear that the world would look nothing like what we enjoy today.

 

First we would remove the vilified gasoline. We would be down to horses. With the number of people in America today, with one horse per household, we would need approximately 75 million horses and 357 million acres of farmland just to feed the horses. Not to mention the waste the horses would leave in the city streets.

 

Essentials such as a car, washer and dryer, air conditioning, the microwave, television, computer, and cell phone would all be gone. They’re energy-dependent. The plastics are made of petroleum.

 

Food supplies and healthcare would be virtually non-existent.

 

The short version is we would all be living in caves and in America, with four to a household, we would need 75 million caves—where there would be no fresh water or waste disposal.

 

Drawing the green goals out to their logical conclusion, it is clear that, like greed, too much green is not good. Yes, we all do want to take care of the earth and wisely use the resources it gives us, but just because something is labeled “green” does not mean that it is really the best for us today.

 

Freedom of choice is one of the great things about America. If some people want to live in a cave—they are free to do so. But that should be a choice, not something that is regulated or legislated. Energy makes America great, and a world without energy would hardly be an environmental utopia.


Marita Noon is the executive director of the Citizens' Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE), a nonprofit organization operating from the platform of "Energy Makes America Great" and supports all domestic energy development. She can be reached at marita@responsiblenergy.org or www.EnergyMakesAmericaGreat.org.

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