Now, along comes Heather Rogers, who warns about the dangers of buying into this mind-set with “Green Gone Wrong: How Our Economy Is Undermining the Environmental Revolution” (Scribner, 272 pages, $26). She says green capitalism is actually undermining ecological progress.
Ms. Rogers is a muckraking investigative reporter who is also the author of “Gone Tomorrow: the Hidden Life of Garbage.” She says corporate America has led us into thinking that we can save the earth mainly by buying things like compact fluorescent light bulbs, hybrid gas-electric cars and carbon offsets.
“The new green wave, typified by the phrase ‘lazy environmentalism,’ is geared toward the masses that aren’t willing to sacrifice,” Ms. Rogers complains. “This brand of armchair activism actualizes itself most fully in the realm of consumer goods; through buying the right products we can usher our economic system into the environmental age.”
Ms. Rogers offers plenty of evidence that consumers who load up their shopping carts with organic food, for instance, may be unwittingly subsidizing big farm companies that are eradicating forests and defiling the soil in some developing countries. She says their governments aren’t as concerned about the environment, and well-intentioned nongovernmental organizations don’t have much clout.
“Green Gone Wrong,” to be released later this month, doesn’t just go after easy targets like big corporations that she says are clearly more interested in making money than saving the earth.
She is also critical of fashionably green rock bands like Coldplay, whose members fly around the world and think they can erase their sizable carbon footprints by planting trees in developing countries. In Coldplay’s case, many of the trees died.
Indeed, Ms. Rogers is so scornful of the mainstream environmental movement that a lot of her points could be used by its enemies, like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, who are always looking for ammunition.
CORRECTION: This post originally identified Andrew Revkin as the author of the write-up. He didn’t write the article, but tweeted it. Devin Leonard wrote the article.