Monday, January 14, 2008

More Green

There's some things we really need to think about when thinking "green."

Is it really green because someone says it is. I mentioned in my previous post on Seeing Green that I'm a print buyer. I know something is green if it has the FSC logo on it since I know that it had to go through rigorous certifications at every stage from how the forest that the trees came from is managed all the way to how the printer manages their shop. However, the "green" fabric that I was shown may not be since the regulations and certifications for that aspect of the print industry aren't so iron clad.

And then there is that window envelope with the corn based film I was telling you about. It may be good for the environment, but is it harming us elsewhere?

If I have to choose between saving someone's life or being green I'd have to pick saving someone's life. So now you're saying "What? What do you mean? Isn't saving the environment saving lives?" And I say yes, up to a point.

The majority of the people in this world live in deep poverty. Those of us living in the West are filthy rich compared to the rest of the world. It's not because they're lazy or violent or because they bring it on themselves, it's because the rich exploit the poor and take away their opportunities and their hope. We, the rich, throw money at them to make ourselves feel better and... but that's a whole different post. Back to being green.

The people who pay the biggest price are the poor when we, the rich, aren't being green. The globe we live on has a natural rhythm that includes temperature changes over time.

Yes it's true! Back in the days of the Renaissance the earth was warm enough that England grew grapes and made wines that rivaled those of France. Flax (from which linen is made) is a warm climate crop and could be grown as far north as Germany. Life was prosperous until the temperature dropped a few degrees and then we have the poverty and hunger of the Age of Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution.

So if that's true, why should we worry about global warming. Because we've taken the natural rhythm of the earth and exaggerated it. It's like constantly irritating a wound so it won't heal. When the heat won't stop going up, it's the poor, especially in the developing world, that take the hit. They have no artificial defenses to protect them from the changing environment like we do. They're the ones that suffer when there is no rain since they can't just run down to the grocery store to buy food grown in a place where there is no drought. They can't just turn on a faucet that pulls it's water from a reservoir carefully maintained in another part of the region. They're stuck with what is immediately available and if the environmental conditions are adverse, there might not be anything available. So they move somewhere else until those resources are exhausted and the cycle continues.

But being green could make the circumstances for the poor even worse. Let's talk about those corn based products that are going to save our world. Where will the corn come from? Can our high yield farm techniques help us to provide all the corn we will need or will we have to import it? If we have to import it, where will it come from? If it comes from a developing country will it force the cost of corn up so high that the even the farmer who raises it can't afford to buy it?

So we need to go green responsibly. Don't just jump on the bandwagon and go with the flow. Be intelligent and ask questions. Do a little research before just going for it. If someone says it's green, check to make sure it really is. Is it regulated and are there standards that determine if it's green? Do they make sense?

And most of all, who does it impact and how? This whole global warming, going green thing really is global. It doesn't just affect how we live, it affects everyone. So in your quest to go green, make sure you're also saving lives.

No comments:

Post a Comment