'It's Not Easy Being Green'

It's not easy being green

It seems you blend in with
so many
other ordinary things...

When green is all there is
to be

It could make you wonder

But why wonder why wonder

I am green, and it'll do

It's beautiful, and I
it's what I want to be

"It's Not Easy Being
Green" - Kermit the Frog

As BP oil gushes in the Gulf of
Mexico with no end in sight, against the backdrop of catastrophic
climate change, Americans are seeing green like it was 1970 and Charles
Reich's popular book "The Greening of America" had just hit
the bookshelves.

In fact, "being green" is now something
like civic religious duty -- unless, of course, you're down with the
drill, baby, drill crowd (which I'm fairly certain are the same people
who were chewing Greenspan's economic bubble gum while walking into the
WMD trap in Iraq; to say nothing about being conspicuously silent about
spending under Bush. Let it never be said that these folks can't walk
chew gum at the same time. But have they ever been right about

That "green" is one of the most ubiquitous
adjectives in the English language serves us right. Etymologists tell us
"green" comes from the Old English word grene, which is derived from an even older word, groeni. Those root words (pun
are closely related to the Old English verb growan,
which means "to grow."

And that's exactly what's happened.
"Green" has grown -- like a giant kelp forest,
most of the "green" we see is on the surface. For that we
can thank advertising executives and the marketing of "green
consumerism," which can be defined as "the use of individual
consumer preference to promote less environmentally damaging products

Environmentally-friendly has gone from left activism to
mainstream consumerism, to the point where last summer, Investment News
was reporting that "the green-investing movement (had) reached the hedge
fund industry."

So with the near omnipresence of green, you might think
the time would be ripe for the Green Party to, well,

With a common-sense propensity to "think globally
and act locally," the Green Party has seen some success on the local
level, especially in the northeast and northwest. But GP influence on
national level is pretty close to zero.

In 2000, Ralph Nader got a paltry 2 million votes. And
there was a reverse Nader effect in 2008, as Obama drew Greens into the
Democratic orbit and Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney could barely
200,000 votes.

Since then, when Greens aren't fighting with each
other over the party's future, they're trying to explain why
they're not to blame for giving Bush the White House by taking away
from Gore (An unfair charge, I think, but one Greens continue to

What no one can dispute is that the blossoming of
"green consciousness" has not translated into green political
parties. Why not?

Certainly, one reason is that the mainstream media
refuses to take the GP at least as seriously as it does the TP (Tea
which isn't even an official party. But there's a deeper reason the
GP has not cashed in on the "green revolution" and it can be seen
in a debate between what I'll call the Light-Greens (LG's) and the
Dark Greens (DG's).

LG's embrace "green consumerism."
DG's despise it. Toby Smith captures the conundrum in his book "The
Myth of Green Marketing." "When someone makes the decision to buy
green, she acknowledges that there is a problem and that ordinary people
contribute to a solution -- a significant step to take. No movement that
to have popular support can afford to dismiss that act as trivial."
That's the LG way.

DG's sees it differently, noting how the greening
of America
has produced an "ideological turnaround" in which the vernacular
went from "Big Business is dirty business to "Factories don't
pollute. People do."

What's worse, DG's contend, is that
"green consumerism" is "a substitute for action; it is only
more empty bourgeois individualism. The problems are structural." Or, as
Murray Bookchin notes, "pragmatic environmentalists often create the
dangerous illusion that the present order is capable of rectifying its
abuses." After all, green consuming is still consumption and that's
the crux of the problem.

The DG's run smack into the juggernaut of
consumer capitalism, though recent polling data should encourage Green
activists. Earlier this month, the Pew
Research Center
found just a slim majority viewed "capitalism" positively while 29
percent described "socialism" as positive. For those under 30, 43
percent described "capitalism" as positive -- the same percentage
who said "socialism" was positive.

Our present environmental crisis has the potential to
tip America
closer to Dark Green. But who knows if BP will be the tipping point that
the Green Party grow. This much we do know: Green, as the New York Times
reports, "is such a difficult color to manufacture that toxic substances
are needed to stabilize it." Some green products can actually be bad for
the environment.

So there's green, and then there's Green.
Being truly green means the environment can only be conserved by
nature itself, not by simply consuming the synthetic stuff peddled by
consumerism. Kermit was right. It's not easy being green.

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