Gotta love the term: “Wal-Mart environmentalism”
Ever wonder where the current “green everything” craze is headed? Lawrence Solomon knows.
Stock market indexes have plummeted from their inflated peaks. Oil and other commodities have likewise plummeted. The next commodity to tumble from unsustainable peak levels: environmentalism.
In part, I am making this prediction because, in my 30 years as an environmentalist, I have never seen so many governments and so many corporations so profusely espousing so many environmental causes. Where promoting environmentalism was once seen as daring and counter-cultural, today it has become banal, no longer the exclusive preserve of a Body Shop chain, but of every retailer down to Wal-Mart. For the same reason that clothes go out of fashion after the masses embrace them, mass-marketed environmentalism will come to be disdained. That won’t sell for long.
I am predicting a collapse of today’s Wal-Mart environmentalism for another reason, too: Much of it is misguided, based on misunderstanding and vacuity.
Global warming is by far the biggest such example. Those who have been following my Denier series in these pages know that large numbers of distinguished scientists dispute the conventional wisdom on climate change, making absurd the claim that the science is settled on climate change. And yet government and corporate propaganda — in global warming and elsewhere — strip away all subltety and uncertainty in their public relations programs, portraying environmental problems and proposing environmental solutions in cartoon-cutout simplicity that, more often than not, accomplish nothing good or make matters worse.
In stock and commodity markets, when values fall from unrealistically high levels, they often fall further than justified. When environmentalism falls from its high values on the realization that many concerns have been oversold, it too will likely fall further than justified. Environmentalism will then need to reestablish public trust before real environmental gains can be made.
As history shows, after being burned in the stock market, investors often stay away for years, fearful of being burned again. The lack of trust harms the greater economy. We have no history of what happens when citizens feel taken in by false environmental claims. But we may soon find out.
Platform shoes and big bell bottoms. We wonder how people could have been silly enough to wear those things. Is that what’s coming to the government/corporate “green” movement? Seems possible to me.