Is the Green Movement Greenscaring?

Increasing renewable energy share, dropping oil and coal use, plummeting investment in coal mining and shale oil, technological advances in the electric car and solar panels: Are the cogs of the market economy shifting quicker to a green stable economy than the green movement is willing to admit?  Is the Green Movement guilty of Greenscaring and is this worse than greenwashing?

The Evidence of Greenscaring

Increases in Green Energy

Cut CO2 by 20% and increase renewable energy share to 20% by 2020  were the targets that Europe set itself before the economic crisis; a formidable challenge.  It now looks as if the continent will meet this target earlier and surpass it massively.  Renewables (excluding Nuclear!) made up 18.4% of the energy mix and coal use fell by 16.3% in the 27 EU countries in 2009 according to Eurostat.

Investments plummet in Coal and Oil Shales

Long hated industries of the environmental movement: mountaintop removal coal and oil shales are coming under increased pressure from their investors.  The toy boy of the mountain top removal coal mining, Massey Energy has seen the amount of its funding massively cut by major US banks.  Ok so one company loses money: but this is not an individual case.   Only last week was the Bank of Scotland target of a climate camp for its support of oil shales in Canada.   The world is becoming more vocal about investments in oil. (Side note: one of the best green things you personally can do is put your money in good hands.  Read more about Ethical Banking here)

Advances in Technology

Solar Panels that use self-cleaning technology from Space resulting in increased efficiency, floating monster turbines launched off Norway, washing machines that know when electricity is not needed and turn themselves on are only a couple of the technological advances that have been announced in the last few weeks.  Looking at the technological advances that man makes it sometime feels that we are about to call a cease fire on nature.

The technological advances are only small and golden bullets will not change this anytime soon.

Not Greenscaring Just Being Realistic?

In the fight against climate change you are either terrified, hopeful or somewhere in between these two poles. The evidence above supports those who are hopeful.  But the evidence for the other pole is also convinicing:

Summer 2010 has seen one of the largest icebergs ever to break off Greenland, both the Northeast and Northwest passages opening (for the third time in recorded history that both have been open, and for the third year in a row), record breaking floods in Pakistan that affected 14 million people, wild fires in Russia that doubled the death rate, storms and landslides in China that killed 3300. Already too late?  Let’s just buy the biggest SUV possible and drive for the hills?

Worse than Greenwashing?

So is Greenscaring dangerous: the answer is no.

Greenscaring is employing the precautionary principle.  Why should we risk being wrong and destroy our only home? Rather than destroying the economy, green investment is creating sustainable jobs and at the same time reducing man’s impact on resources and the global commons.

Greenwashing on the other hand relies on business-as-usual.  The only action required is to fall to the ground as the flood water pours into your home  and pray that somebody will save you and your children.

We need to carry on greenscaring or the world will fall into greenwashing and the negative evidence will soon swamp the positive movement towards renewable and green technology.
Image Courtesy of sodahead.com

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3 Responses to “Is the Green Movement Greenscaring?”

  1. [...] Energy’s growth can be dramatic, just look at Portugal, Germany, Spain or California in recent years. Renewable Energy is booming and the technological advances are hitting the headlines like [...]

  2. Jack Lewis says:

    Hi there, I agree that greenscaring is much better than it’s binary opponent. So this post is not about disagreeing with you.

    On the 2020 20% targets, the sad truth is that Europe would probably have achieved this anyway, without consideration for the environment. We are deindustrialising – all our stuff is made overseas, predominantly in China. So we are just shifting the carbon emissions overseas and patting ourselves on the back. China is not as picky as we are about how they generate their energy, understandably distrusting us, the historical polluters, when we suggest they should generate cleaner (and more expensive) power. China is building two coal power stations a week, to help power the production we are demanding from it. So we are just exporting carbon emissions, and effectively increasing them on a global scale. It is very sad that European leaders are getting away with patting themselves on the back for this and this issue is not understood by the masses.

    I respect what you are doing with your site and look forward to reading more from you.

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