Letters

Letters 05-23-2016

Examine The Priorities Are you disgusted about closing schools, crumbling roads and bridges, and cuts everywhere? Investigate funding priorities of legislators. In 1985 at the request of President Reagan, Grover Norquist founded Americans for Tax Reform (ATR). For 30 years Norquist asked every federal and state candidate and incumbent to sign the pledge to vote against any increase in taxes. The cost of living has risen significantly since 1985; think houses, cars, health care, college, etc...

Make TC A Community For Children Let’s be that town that invests in children actively getting themselves to school in all of our neighborhoods. Let’s be that town that supports active, healthy, ready-to-learn children in all of our neighborhoods...

Where Are Real Christian Politicians? As a practicing Christian, I was very disappointed with the Rev. Dr. William C. Myers statements concerning the current presidential primaries (May 8). Instead of using the opportunity to share the message of Christ, he focused on Old Testament prophecies. Christ gave us a new commandment: to love one another...

Not A Great Plant Pick As outreach specialist for the Northwest Michigan Invasive Species Network and a citizen concerned about the health of our region’s natural areas, I was disappointed by the recent “Listen to the Local Experts” feature. When asked for their “best native plant pick,” three of the four garden centers referenced non-native plants including myrtle, which is incredibly invasive...

Truth About Plants Your feature, “listen to the local experts” contains an error that is not helpful for the birds and butterflies that try to live in northwest Michigan. Myrtle is not a native plant. The plant is also known as vinca and periwinkle...

Ask the Real Plant Experts This letter is written to express my serious concern about a recent “Listen To Your Local Experts” article where local nurseries suggested their favorite native plant. Three of the four suggested non-native plants and one suggested is an invasive and cause of serious damage to Michigan native plants in the woods. The article is both sad and alarming...

My Plant Picks In last week’s featured article “Listen to the Local Experts,” I was shocked at the responses from the local “experts” to the question about best native plant pick. Of the four “experts” two were completely wrong and one acknowledged that their pick, gingko tree, was from East Asia, only one responded with an excellent native plant, the serviceberry tree...

NOTE: Thank you to TC-based Eagle Eye Drone Service for the cover photo, taken high over Sixth Street in Traverse City.

Home · Articles · News · Other Opinions · We need a new shade of...
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We need a new shade of green

Jeff Gibbs - June 2nd, 2008
We live in a lite-green time. And it’s not working.Despite corporations, politicians and quite a few citizens being obsessed with going green our national, regional, and personal emissions are going up, up, and away. Every nation that signed Kyoto, including -- yes, the supposedly eco-friendly Europeans -- are headed in the WRONG direction: their greenhouse gases are rising. Indeed, the renewable energy revolution is so not working that Europe is rushing to build dozens of coal and nuclear-fired power plants.
We were told that if environmentalists got into bed with corporations, that if we all just did our one little thing, that if we changed our light bulbs, bought a hybrid car, and supported alternative energy, that things would begin to turn around. It hasn’t, and it won’t. If every person in the country did every suggestion in Al Gore’s film, it would only achieve a 22% cut in greenhouses emissions—and some scientists say we need a 90% cut to save ourselves.
The lite-green time is full of hope and talk of sustainability, opportunity, “positive solutions.” “Green is the new green” they say. We CAN have our planet and eat it too! There is “no conflict between the economy and the environment.” Well news flash: all that stuff you consume comes from SOMEWHERE on planet earth. And all the pollutants spit out when the stuff is made, transported, consumed, and thrown away, go somewhere on planet earth.
When we eat sushi, endangered blue fin tuna die.
In a day’s worth of flying, your seat on that plane consumes more fuel than an SUV driver does in an entire year.
Every time you flick on a light switch, fire up an iPod, or turn on your computer to write, a mountain in West Virginia is dying so that we might have the miracle of electricity.
So there is indeed a conflict. We can’t have it all. We can save the planet or our lifestyles—not both.
So what is it that keeps us from leaping into action given the dire environmental dilemmas we face?
One strong factor is the mixed messages of the lite-green movement. When Al Gore says change your light bulb while taking flight after flight and limo ride after limo ride—he is sending us a double message. I would prefer that my drug counselor not have a needle sticking out of his arm.
The lite-green movement plays on a basic human need. We all want to feel optimistic. But optimism at the expense of making a real plan to save ourselves is the opposite of hope. It’s ultimately suicidal. What is keeping us from robustly challenging the plans put forth that say we can sequester the carbon (unproven) offset of our flights (doesn’t work) or run civilization on windmills or ethanol? (Ethanol = food riots and gas is still double the price.)
For me, real hope comes from a full assessment of the mess we’re in. How else might we make a plan to save ourselves? You don’t say “I don’t want to know if I have cancer unless you have a solution” or “I am not going to turn around and see if my house is on fire unless you hand me a hose.”
Real hope also comes from community. By community I don’t mean “localization.” That’s good, but it’s not going to save us. For me the emotional, spiritual and mutually supportive aspects of community are what’s important. It is the coming together for mutual aid and support. It is the banding together to deal with a powerful threat--even if the threat is ourselves. AA comes to mind as quite good at this.
So instead of a lite-green movement, I propose a new shade of green: dark green. Healthy nature is dark green, not the pale green of trees struggling to survive in a dryer, hotter, more polluted world.
The first step on the path to recovery—of becoming dark green--is acceptance. Humanity is in a real mess and there’s a good chance we’re not going to get out of it alive. This really sucks and avoiding talking about it only makes it worse. Of course, those who really don’t want to give up their sushi or flights or electric toys or leaf blowers and weed whackers won’t want to hear any doom and gloom, because it might ruin their buzz and insert some guilt to that magical journey to India, China, or South America.
But through acceptance, and openness, and making plans to save ourselves that actually stand a chance of working, dark greens begin to transcend the doom and gloom, just as cancer patients report the freedom and hyper-reality that come from facing the disease square on and alcoholics in recovery find a heavy burden lifted and spirits soaring.
Earth First’s motto is that action is the antidote to despair. I think that’s right but the action must be paired with a full understanding of what’s called for in these times. And to the extent that our lifestyle is addictive (and it’s VERY addicting) ,we all need to get into a recovery program of sorts to even think straight about this. Otherwise our actions—whether spiking trees or ethanol or flying about the planet complaining that fossil fuel use is killing us—may be misguided or even make things worse.
Now I am not expecting tons of other folks are ready to be dark greens. The lite-green movement will not go down easy because none of us want this amazing ride we’ve had hepped up on fossil fuels to be over.
If so email me. We have to talk. Time for the dark greens to come out of hiding, stop being depressed, and help lead the way toward a real plan to save ourselves, or at least make what is waiting for us when the oil, gas and coal run out and the planet falls apart, more humane.
In crafting a way that we might survive this and save as much of this glorious, amazing, full-of-life planet we live on as possible, I find a deep amount of hope. And after all that is the only task before humanity, whether we know it or not: save the planet, or lose everything.

Jeff Gibbs is a musician and filmmaker from TC. Write him at JeffGibbsTC@aol.com.

 
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