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Thread: Review: Bright Green Lies

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    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    Review: Bright Green Lies

    Just finished Bright Green Lies by Derrick Jensen, Lierre Keith, and Max Wilbert. Very provocative.

    Its premise is that mainstream environmentalists are asking the wrong questions. The question is not: What technologies will save life as we know it given the existential threats to our planet--in other words, how can we humans perpetuate our current lifestyle by tweaking the environment?

    The real question is: What do we have to do to save the planet--planet meaning everything on the planet? All the life forms that are systematically being destroyed--human and non-human life forms big and small--how do we preserve the interconnectedness of life? How do we get to the point where it is important to save life for its own sake?

    To that end, he really challenges the mainstream environmentalists' solutions like solar, wind, and other energy systems like hydroelectric, biomass, etc. He also challenges recycling programs and progress in the name of efficiency.

    I've read Jensen's other books, most notably Endgame I and II, so I know that he believes that civilization is the problem. We can't save the planet and save civilization, too. He cites all the civilizations going back to the the dawn of agriculture, which have eventually failed because of the decimation of their land base. We are different. We are destroying our land base in record time because of industry and technology. So then what?

    Unlike Bezos who feels we just shove off and resign Earth to a planetary recycling heap, Jensen/Keith/Wilbert believe it is better to take off our blinders and do something to save the wholesale destruction of the planet. And by taking off our blinders, he means stop thinking that politics and industry can solve the problem for us, because they can't. The upholders of our current systems are reframing the issue in terms of what's best for them--meaning more power and more money, and neither of those things are going to save us. As for us, we need to do what we can to promote, in our own ways, the restoration of of the earth--vigorously--as if it were our own homes burning down. Which it is.
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
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    Seems to me like all this talk about technologies saving the planet is in the end, just another way to make money which always seems to be the most important thing. I hear more and more talk locally about changing the way we eat, travel, shop, grow food etc so those I feel are about all we as ordinary citizens can do. There is a small underground of people who want to live sustainably and are doing so but not nearly enough to "save" us. I will check out the book.

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    Senior Member iris lilies's Avatar
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    I don’t mean to be rude here but my summary thought is—Is this supposed to be new ecothought? Is the copyright on this book something recent? It does not seem recent.

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    Senior Member JaneV2.0's Avatar
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    The declining birth rate seems like a promising step to me. So does the burgeoning renewable energy industry. I'm not a pessimist by nature.

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    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JaneV2.0 View Post
    The declining birth rate seems like a promising step to me. So does the burgeoning renewable energy industry. I'm not a pessimist by nature.
    His response to you would be:
    a) Yes: global education for women is key.
    b) The renewable energy industry is fraught with its own problems (according to him--he outlines the challenges very well, but I don't have the time at the moment to synthesize.).

    I'm the eternal optimist, and I don't think it's being pessimistic to consider that an alternative way of life wouldn't be better for humans and non-humans. That's where my optimism lies.
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
    www.silententry.wordpress.com

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    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iris lilies View Post
    I don’t mean to be rude here but my summary thought is—Is this supposed to be new ecothought? Is the copyright on this book something recent? It does not seem recent.
    No, Derrick Jensen has been around for a long time writing about the same thesis about civilization, but this particular book is directed at really looking at the goals and motivations of the mainstream environmentalists, so we don't wind up being misled into thinking it will solve all the problems. He references Rachel Carson and how her motivation was to save the flora and fauna, out of a deep respect for all life; versus Naomi Klein and Bill McKibben who are interested in doing what we can to save civilization. Two different ways of thinking.
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
    www.silententry.wordpress.com

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    Senior Member iris lilies's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by catherine View Post
    No, Derrick Jensen has been around for a long time writing about the same thesis about civilization, but this particular book is directed at really looking at the goals and motivations of the mainstream environmentalists, so we don't wind up being misled into thinking it will solve all the problems. He references Rachel Carson and how her motivation was to save the flora and fauna, out of a deep respect for all life; versus Naomi Klein and Bill McKibben who are interested in doing what we can to save civilization. Two different ways of thinking.
    As someone who does not read in this area, still yet, I know the ideas.I think we all know these ideas by osmosis the things leaking into our brain via cheddar on the Internet and news and etc.


    The saving of mankind versus the saving of the earth is a conflict well in the forefront of mainstream ecological thought. However, I disagree with jensen’s or (or your?) idea that “mainstream” environmentalists are those who look to technology to solve these enormous problems. Is my impression that they are sidelined by the purest like Jensen.


    However, as I said I don’t read in this area and just absorb bits here and there, so if eco warriors who push science advancement are indeed the main pstream then I guess I’m happy about that.

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    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iris lilies View Post

    The saving of mankind versus the saving of the earth is a conflict well in the forefront of mainstream ecological thought. However, I disagree with jensen’s or (or your?) idea that “mainstream” environmentalists are those who look to technology to solve these enormous problems. Is my impression that they are sidelined by the purest like Jensen.
    What you say used to be true, but as technology with solutions from solar/wind/water/biofuel grows (and the money that can be made and the lifestyle that can be preserved) , the "technology will save us" group is growing and now sidelining "Deep Greens." Interestingly, as a prelude to the book the authors outline a continuum of environmentalists:

    In short:

    • Deep Greens: Humans must live within the limits of the natural world, so drastic transformation needs to occur.
    • Lifestylists: Humans depends on nature, but political involvement is impossible or unnecessary, so the best we can do is practice self-reliance and other personal solutions
    • Bright Greens: Green technology and design and ethical consumerism will allow a modern, high-energy lifestyle to continue. "It's less about nature--it's more about us."
    • Wise Use/Environmental Managers: Problems are minor and can be solved through proper management. Natural resources should be protected primarily to enable continued extraction and human well-being
    • Cornucopians: Resources are infinite. Technology and the economic system will solve it all.
    • Technocrats/Transhumanists: Humans should transcend biology by investing heavily in technology. Leave Planet Earth behind in favor of cybernetic enhancement.


    I haven't worked out where I am on this continuum.
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
    www.silententry.wordpress.com

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    Senior Member Yppej's Avatar
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    It sounds like the premise behind the move Planet of the Humans.

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    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yppej View Post
    It sounds like the premise behind the move Planet of the Humans.
    Yeah, I saw that movie. And also all the controversy surrounding it--there were accusations of using old data and old footage and other inaccuracies. It is a similar premise for sure. As I consider whether to put solar panels on my house, and/or a wind turbine, I have to consider some these issues. I've heard it will be a bear to recycle all of these solar panels once the lifecycles of the first generation of them are done. Kind of like when the hotels tossed all their "perfectly good" TVs in favor of flat screens a decade or so back.

    Any technology is going to have to answer to some of these issues, even if they do help to reduce fossil fuel use and carbon emissions. For the record, I think biofuel is a misguided solution because scaling it will mean destroying an important source of carbon capture in the process of trying to cut down carbon emissions.
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
    www.silententry.wordpress.com

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