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Green vs. Green: We Need an Environmental Bailout

Green vs. Green: We Need an Environmental Bailout

As I stand back, watching our financial house of cards crumble in on itself, and hearing the panic and outrage spill forth from the mealy mouths of pundits and politicians, as we teeter on the precipice of economic freefall, I find myself wondering what if this crisis and threat weren’t economic, but environmental? What if that cinder block wall we were about to meet head on weren’t made of bad investments, short selling, and unimaginable debt, held together by a thick mortar of greed and short-sightedness, but instead, what if it were that looming environmental catastrophe comprised of climate change, rising ocean waters, pollution on a massive scale, and an irreconcilable break between nature and humanity? Would our leaders and government rally, with late-night sessions of Congress and handshakes across the aisle, to rectify the harm and lessen the blow of environmental collapse?

For those of us that have been saddled with the environmental foresight and the unenviable Cassandra role, we know all too well that the answer is most likely no, as evidence of the relative inaction demonstrated by the powers that be. The mere fact that we, in a moment of widespread panic and haste, are expected to throw $700 billion at something that may or may not make the least bit of difference in our economy, but then the prospect of financial incentives for renewable energy (a program that is undoubtedly a positive force toward clean energy and environmental conservation) is something easily tossed to the curb and disregarded by Congress, should be something that sparks outrage and deep concern.

I have little doubt that the economic forecast is cloudy with a probability of fire and brimstone. People will unquestionably suffer, jobs will be lost, and restructuring and revitalization of our economic system will be crucial. But somehow, we will move through it, learn and adapt. I can’t say the same for the imminent environmental collapse, which unless we act with the same sense of urgency and vigilance that we are devoting to the current Wall Street crisis, will not leave us so intact.

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, N.Y. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.

10 comments

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4:58AM PST on Dec 14, 2010

Thanks for the article.

12:20PM PST on Feb 5, 2010

thank you

10:08PM PST on Nov 24, 2008

With the benefit of an additinal month to ponder these thoughts, I am truly astounded that there has been almost no comment anywhere of tying any bailout package for non-banking industries (i.e., the auto industry) to any other policy considerations such as the environment. By that I mean why not get environmental policy really rolling if there is a bail out the auto industry. A condition that it must produce a fleet average 40 mpg in three years would be a start. Take it further by making sure that this includes passenger trucks more commonly known as SUVs. Lets also reconsider whether a $7,000 tax credit for buying the soon to be created Chevy Volt makes sense. Wouldn't this be another corporate subsidy to produce an auto that costs too much to build?

5:09PM PDT on Oct 23, 2008

This is a great and well written article Eric. I whole heartly agree with you. There is technology to take our depedence on foreign oil back. I watched this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xEdQRVQtffw. Mike Stizki has a home and car that runs on hydrogen. We do the best we can by hooking up a solar array which is till connected to the grid, and a Prius which we want to convert to a plug in. Even though we need an environmental bail out if we all take responsibility and invest our money where our beliefs are we can start the change we want to see.

12:15PM PDT on Oct 2, 2008

The lord prepares a banquette at the table of mine enemies. An old biblical quote that comes to mind as i read your thoughtful comment. Its my hope that people take this time to learn of the true mismanagement that went on here, the aggressive overselling of high risk lending to people who were undereducated by those who stood to gain by selling and reselling property and parts of interest on loans. Let the conversation about Greed and Glutteny by honest and rational and let humor and exhuberance be allowed as well. Nothing is hard and fast and yet fear mongering is always wrong. If Astronauts can reuse their own urine as drinkable water we don't need to be fearful about how we proceed with water conservation and yet we must consider all angles. Let hearts and minds express in the light of the day not only through the methods of "The Secret". Let us respect the differences and make conversation a celebration for good times.

3:04AM PDT on Oct 2, 2008

And a direct link to the Care2 EcoFriendly Community.

Join
the Care2 Eco Friendly PC Group Here

3:03AM PDT on Oct 2, 2008

I agree with Nikolas. Seems that it's time for leadership, and less finger pointing(seems that four fingers point back at the source of the problem). We've set up a Green Footprint campaign online, here at Care2. Go to Groups, and search on EcoFriendly. That will show you how a new vision for Green can take place.

10:55PM PDT on Oct 1, 2008

What we think is what we create. Its time we focused our thoughts on loving one another and forgiving those who do us harm as they may not know any better, our love will guide them to understand their wrong. there is no right or wrong, only what we think it is.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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