If it became your mission to discover the history of the green movement in America, where would you begin? There is a relatively new discipline in place known as environmental history that looks at the ways in which our environment impacts upon our world. The discipline pinpoints three specific areas:
1) How nature, itself, has changed through time. Think about a polar bear slipping off an ice cap, good example. Or tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, or in some ways the BP Oil Spill.
2) How the people that inhabit nature utilize it and how their actions impact our world. For example, Americans have been living like consumers gone wild since the advent of the Industrial Revolution. We used oil like gluttons when it was 35 cents a gallon, drove big cars, and didn’t give a thought to what we threw away, or how big our landfills were. Now, that the people of China and India are also in the midst of using up the earths’ resources, Americans are either 1) resigned to the fact that all the people in these countries will want to use up their resources like we did and the future of planet Earth is downhill, or 2) are angry that people who live in places like China and India won’t get on board the green way of life and learn to conserve like we haven’t for the past many years.
3) How we shape our attitudes towards our environment. A good example of this is the common belief that most Republicans do not believe in global warming. Or that all liberals are green hippies out to tax all sources of energy coming from fossil fuels in order to reign in the American citizens’ piggish use of these dirty, polluting sources.
So, let’s look at the five most amazing myths about the history of green!
1) Environmental History is New and Improved – Rachel Carson authored Silent Spring in 1962 and is often called the mother of the environmental movement. Environmental history began in earnest in the 1960’s and 1970’s around the same time as the first Earth Day, which was held in 1970.
2) Green washing is something Like Whitewashing! – In the 1960″s ecopornography became part of the vernacular at the same time that earth friendly practices were gaining momentum. Green washing became a mainstream part of our green vocabulary in the year 2000 when it became a common practice for companies that wanted to align themselves with the green or sustainable movement to use ‘˜green sheen’ to move their products or improve their company image ( such as auto makers). Do you see much difference between eco-pornography and green washing? Makes me want to say, hmmm!
3) Al Gore is the Father of Environmentalism! Yes, and he is also the inventor of the Internet.
4) If You Turn Off the Appliance, You Have Done Your Part to Save the Planet! Forget about that little line. There are a multitude of vampire appliances in every little crevice of your home- and they suck energy even when they are supposedly turned off. Want a good example? Take a look at that little microwave oven you use to heat up your coffee. And then look at your coffeemaker… shall I go on? And, if you want to get historical, don’t you remember one of your cheap parents telling you to ‘˜turn off the lights when you leave the room!” That’s history!
5) Growing your own food is best! That’s true, but there is that little thing called the four seasons. Lots of areas in the United States just can’t get in-season food all the time ‘” and unfortunately we are forced to chart millions of food miles to bring food to fork. Besides, victory gardens are a whole lot like urban gardens, and community gardens. The only thing is they were dug up during World War II.
I am not saying that environmental history isn’t new and improved. I just want to put all of this into perspective. There is an intense spotlight on going green today- and as the creator of the Green ABC’s for Kids, I have a stake in it. But, when we teach our kids about ‘˜going green’ and becoming sustainable, let’s tell them the whole story- you know, that green washing and eco-pornography are really the same thing!