“The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way.” - William Blake
Sustainability is bogged down in Green. The movement is saturated in the stuff. Like the horrible pink slime from “Ghostbusters II,” Green is dividing potential heroes and highlighting the negative of a potentially good community.
This term, which someone once thought would provide a simple, illustrative catch-phrase, has become laden with baggage: too expensive, too pretentious, too detached, too impractical. Now Green stands as an easy target, depreciating itself every time a corporate broadcast channel dips its logo in the sludge for a week.
As of this writing, there are 54 days until the 2012 elections and the environment has been set aside for more pressing matters. The Republican National Committee makes no mention of global warming or climate change anywhere in its platform, and President Obama has decided to wait until after Nov. 6 to issue new rules governing greenhouse-gas emissions from power plants. As primordial slime, Green is void of a backbone, unable to sustain itself.
Perhaps a print publication is not the best place to address this issue. As Mr. Gordon points out in his article pitting old school books against new electronic tablets, the newspaper industry rolls through 95 million trees each year. And as more and more newspapers of varying circulations go belly up, it becomes harder to argue that the industry is sustainable, in the true sense of the word.
But as Mr. Sarko found while reporting on the “Greenest Building in the World,” risks must be taken, someone has to step forward, if only to fall flat so that followers may walk across them.
The sustainability movement will have little deterrent from falling flat. Depending on the outcome of this election, it may find itself repeatedly shoved back into the Green mire. But someone has to tell the stories of its failures.
One lesson became evident as I looked into what has caused the marriage equality movement to be poised on the brink of a major success in Washington this November: groups must share their stories. Stories build communities and communities form the backbone of movements. There is never a more pressing concern than the environment we inhabit. It is intrinsically intertwined with everything we do or have, and that means there are stories to be told on a basic level.
The journalism industry may not be able to sustain itself, but it can tell stories, and it may just be the backbone the environmental campaign is missing.