Yesterday I received an email from Damon Moglen, the Greenpeace Global Warming Campaign Director. While I applaud his efforts, I feel he is failing to look at the issue in a Sustainable manner, something that has plagued the environmental movement for years.
You can see his email and my response below. I would like to preface both of these emails with a quote from an excellent book that I am just now getting around to reading, Ecology of Commerce by Paul Hawken (which in turn was taken from a speech by then President of Czechoslovakia Vaclav Havel in his address to the World Economic Forum in 1992):
"Traditional science, with its usual coolness, can describe the different ways we might destroy ourselves, but it cannot offer us truly effefctive and practicable instructions on how to avert them. There is too much to know; the information is muddle or poorly organized; these processes can no longer be fully grasped and understood, let alone contained or halted."
|Dear Chris,||May 20, 2009|
And now, my response (which I emailed to him):
I sympathize with you because your job is extremely difficult.
Unfortunately, the question you MUST be able to answer to be effective is how your propositions will CREATE and not DECREASE American jobs?
As a student of Sustainability, it sometimes frustrates me that those in the Environmental movement somehow forget that there needs to be a balance between environmental and economic goals. You call for 25-40 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, but how is this achieved without severely hampering American business? If this does hamper American business, what prevents them from going to China, where there will be no greenhouse gas limits? Do you know the message this sends to China? It says, "If you limit greenhouse gas to the point where it severely hampers the ability to be profitable, businesses will leave your country."
You can't send out emails informing people we need to cut greenhouse gas 25-40 percent without a clear indication of how this is SUSTAINABLE. Unfortunately the Environmental movement often forgets that one of the tenets of Sustinability is Economics.
If you continue to push for environmental limits without a clear economic incentive to do so, you will see extreme backlash from the American public. Especially at a point in time when people are unable to pay their mortgage.
What studies has Greenpeace done to this effect? Also, keep in mind that individuals prioritize "tomorrow" (immediate future) before ten years from now (long term future). So telling Joe Sixpack that "the ocean levels will rise covering Manhattan" does no good if Joe can't feed his family.
I say this to help you and give you meaningful feedback. I hope you don't ignore this letter.
Founder of MapAWatt Blog
For Greenpeace to be successful, they have to understand that as much as we all would like to do what is best for the environment at all cost, we also have to realize that economics can't be left out of the picture. We don't have infinite money to pay for infinite costs. Without addressing this issue, Greenpeace is actually hurting, not helping the cause to be more sustainable by muddying the waters. Greenpeace has to quit calling for solutions that they have yet to formulate.
I will also end with a quote from the same page of The Ecology of Commerce in which Hawken writes:
"Business requires more than criticism. It needs a plan, a vision, a basis - a broad social mandate that will turn it away from the linear, addictive, short-term economic activities in which it is enmeshed and trapped"
Right now, Greenpeace is simply criticizing. What they, and all Americans, need to do is help formulate a sustainable solution, not a simple band-aid to our underlying problem of un-sustainable economic activities.