It’s not easy being green

Many within the environmental movement discuss issues with overly simplistic solutions or with end-of-the-world type scenarios that give people little hope.

Many Manitoban environmental activists view them through either dark green or pale green glasses.

Quite simply, those with a pale or light green perspective view the issue through personal responsibility or transformation. Take for example, activists who say we should compost, ride our bike or buy organic soaps to get our way out of this environmental mess.

Those on the dark green end have more of a pessimistic view, blaming everything on capitalism, and believe we should cut back on economic growth.

Some activists, for example, would not only compost and bike but would believe in going back to the simple way of life in the name of deep ecology.

It’s great to preach the gospel of composting to kingdom come.

It’s great to ride your bike and give yourself a golf clap knowing you have played your part in saving the earth.

However, the light green environmental view is too simplistic and narrow minded.

It’s great for dark green environmentalists to blame everything on capitalism and economics, along with doom and gloom about if we don’t change, the polar bears will become extinct.

However, again, it can only get you brownie points to an extent.

To go even further, a January Winnipeg Free Press article discussed the monthly gathering called Green Drinks, in which Winnipeg environmentalists meet to discuss the issues of the day.

One quote from the article by Green Action Centre’s Josh Brandon perfectly summed up the isolationist attitude felt by Manitoban environmentalists: “I feel like we’re pretty isolated in the environmental community… [This meeting] reminds us that we aren’t working alone in our little silos, but part of a broader movement.”

Environmentalists in the province feeling isolated may have to do with the fact that their “pale green” and “dark green” ideas don’t hold much appeal for the so-called average Manitoban.

I have been to these gatherings and have seen the marked divide between dark and pale green environmentalism.

I agree with the science.

I agree we are driving off a cliff with Mother Nature.

I agree our weather in the future could be just as bad as the predictions.

I agree Canada without polar bears in a world devoured by climate change just won’t be the same.

However, I am not convinced just buying the latest veggie burger, riding my bike or crying about the capitalist system is going to solve this big problem; rather, it’s much deeper than that.

We need a bright green view of the issue in order to solve the problem.

Bright green environmentalism looks toward solutions like renewable energy rather than complaining about everything.

Its proponents include sustainable development champions like Alex Steffen, who had coined the phrase and spread it through usage numerous times on the Worldchanging website, as well as in interviews and speeches.

We need to look at what good things have occurred in recent years, including the advancement of renewable energy, an industry that saw a 40 per cent increase in global deals in 2011, to US $53.5 billion, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers report.

We need to look at the gains made in the green jobs movement and how that has linked different groups in the U.S., making the issue more appealing to the working poor and middle class, along with different ethnic groups; we need to look at how that can be used here in Canada.

We also need to look at how clean technologies can potentially leapfrog polluting technologies in remote communities and developing countries.

I know it’s not all peaches and cream; I know it can be bleak some times. But at the end of the day, neither dark nor light green will making solving this problem any easier.

Maybe a brighter look at things by Manitoban environmentalists will engage more people, and make it easier to be green.

Adam Johnston is a graduate of economics and rhetoric, writing and communications from the University of Winnipeg. He works as a commodities reporter in Winnipeg and as a renewable energy writer for

Published in Volume 66, Number 19 of The Uniter (February 8, 2012)

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