Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Sacred Cows and Elephants in the Room: EcoMyths and False Salvations

The Monterey County Dump where semis full of trash come and go, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Within the green movement, we all have a sacred cow or two. I’ll get it out of the way and fess up that vegetarianism and biodiesel are mine. I’ll maintain to the day I die that if everyone ate a near-vegetarian diet and drove around on biodiesel, we’d have a much happier planet. After all, I did drive around the country on biodiesel to see if it were possible to make it around the U.S. without fossil fuels. While it was possible, it wasn’t easy—we just don’t have the infrastructure (or political stamina) to make biodiesel “convenient” enough for most Americans. But perhaps that’s the problem itself—we have a constant push and pull between ideals and realities…And too often, we don't dream big enough.

Along with our sacred cows, we all have a million and one salves that we apply to make ourselves feel better about the earth’s seemingly inevitable trajectory toward disaster. We carry our own water bottles and coffee mugs, lugging them around like green talismans to ward off evil eye and climate change. We shop at Whole Foods and buy organic shampoo that flows down self-installed gray water systems to our native plant gardens. We turn up our noses at SUVs and WalMart. We insert signatures in our email asking our colleagues not to print our poorly-drafted words.

Let it be said that deep in my heart, I think these are good things…but also deep in my heart (and deep within the media’s never-ending stream of information), I have been taking note of several EcoMyths and False Salvations that I present here not to stir up the already well-established divisions, but to inspire dialogue, compassionate thought, and transcendence…because where we go once we recognize the precociousness of our most sacred cows will determine everything. In part, I write these anecdotes to consolidate the myriad disparate voices I’ve encountered in recent months, to reconcile contradiction or to find comfort in ambiguity.

Following are my top 10 EcoMyths and False Salvations, as presented by my favorite mottos/slogans/bumper stickers.

1: Reduce-Reuse-Recycle
2: We Serve Only Sustainable Catch Seafood!
3: American Farmers Grew my Fuel
4: Please Consider the Environment Before Printing this Email
5: This Home/Car/Bike Powered by the Sun
6: Leed-Certified Building
7: Save the Earth: Go Vegan
8: Support Global Cooling: Drive a Hybrid
9: Gone with the Wind
10: The Singularity and Beyond

I’ll address these items one by one, blog by blog, incorporating my most recent readings and thoughts. I’ll start with the biggest elephant in the room: Recycling.

Read EcoMyths and Elephants in the Room #1 Recycling

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Whenever people agree with me I always feel I must be wrong.
- Oscar Wilde


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