Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Green Torah

It’s not original to point out the parallels between Greenism and millenarian religion. There is a Fall (from a state of harmony with nature to greedy capitalism) and obviously an Armageddon, currently manifesting itself as rising sea levels and melting ice caps. And God knows there are plenty of prophets and high priests and missionaries and even heresies.

Now I have discovered the Green Torah, or specifically, the Green Leviticus, in the form of a tubular toiletside tome called ‘1000 Ways to Save the Earth’. A thousand ways, as you might imagine, is a Big Ask even for finger-wagging Greens and the barrel is well scraped by the late 800s, but it’s a remarkable work nonetheless. There is, it seems, no area of everyday western life - however humble, innocent or trivial – about which one shouldn’t feel guiltier. Did you know, for example, that you ought to encase your Ipod in something made from recycled Columbian truck tyres?

As with all good religious rulebooks, the Green Torah is a logical minefield. One Way, about wrapping your apples individually in old newspaper so they will remain edible all winter, is followed by another urging you not to buy newspapers but to read them at your local library.

The logic and consistency issues seem to largely stem from two fundamental problems in the Green ethos. The first is that the point of these Ways is that they’re effective when scalable - so even though you will make no measurable difference to the planet by doing these things on your own, if everyone followed your shining example then the Earth could indeed be ‘saved’. But most of the Ways can’t be scaled coherently (if everyone did stop buying newspapers there would be no newspapers to read in your local library nor indeed to wrap your apples in). The second problem is that the quartet of Green Goods in consumables - Locally-Sourced; Fair Trade; Organic; Carbon-Friendly – are often mutually exclusive or in direct conflict with each other.

Naturally, none of this logical or practical business should get in the way of a good self-righteous green fingerwag. In terms of tone, my absolute favourite is Way to Save the Earth number 899, Make use of comment cards, which states: “If you still use the supermarket, at least fill in the customer comment cards [sigh]. Use them to urge your store to stock more organic, fair trade and locally-sourced produce.” (My italics and sigh, to assist with the correct enunciation).


malty said...

Brit, your summer retreat of Bury (the British equivalent of the sahibs hill station) is the home of greener than greenness green living, manufacturing wise, the road cone manufacturer ........ Plastics used to use ground down old tyres and, and, rubber backed carpet in the manufacture of the cone bases, 15 years ago, Bury is ahead of the game, planet saving wise.
Hurry Bury, you only have 48 hrs to save the world.

Peter said...

I love the implication that organic food stores, being without original sin, neither have nor need comment cards.

David said...

Read newspapers on ... paper? What is this, the 1950s?

worm said...

I often lie awake at night thinking 'how can I be a consumer and buy lots of stuff..whilst being green and fashionable?'

malty said...

This morning the bad news arrived via Mark the plumber 'need a new pump' he said, as it's an oil fired boiler I thought about asking him if he had one that, kinda didn't pump oil, so saving civilisation and Florida fishies. Then I thought, naah.