Book Review: Bright Green Lies

Book by D. Jensen, L. Keith and M. Wilbert, Monkfish Book Publishing, 2021

Subtitle: How the Environmental Movement Lost Its Way and What We Can Do About It

NOTE:  A documentary (Bright Green Lies), based on the book, is available on Vimeo.

I imagine a climate-crisis-focused addiction group would start like this for me:

“Hi, my name is Mark.  I’m addicted to consuming resources.”

“Hi Mark…”

I try hard to break my addiction.  I refuse, reduce, reuse and recycle, although not always. I support the replacement of fossil fuels with alternative energies. I have solar panels, an electric car and a very energy efficient house. But resource consumption is an addiction and its pull is relentless. 

Supporting and doing what I consider to be the right thing is not enough to stop the environmental destruction of the planet according to Bright Green Lies. The book is very sobering and a must read. The basic premise is that not only are fossil fuels harmful to the planet, but the alternatives, such as solar, wind, hydro, etc. are really not much better. They all involve some type of mineral extraction that despoils the landscape and destroys peoples’ lives and livelihoods. They all have some type of hazardous chemicals associated with the mining and manufacturing processes that pollute the environment and sicken the local population.  

In addition, people, particularly Indigenous people, who have lived in the areas for ages and are in tune with the land, are displaced by dams built to provide electricity for mining and manufacturing operations. To make a living often their only choice is to work for the extractive industries that displaced them and work in hazardous conditions for low pay. 

Recycling is also problematic because much energy and many chemicals are needed to process the used materials. Mining is still required because not enough material is produced from recycled products.

The authors also take to task and debunk the claims of many environmental groups, companies and governments that say we can continue to grow sustainably without harming the planet. 

The authors contend that not only should we stop using fossil fuels but that we should:

1) not produce any more solar panels, windmills, or other alternative energy sources,

2) not produce any more electric vehicles,

3) not dam any more rivers and breach the rest, and

4) live with a lot less stuff.

They conclude: “we must recognize that because the earth is the source of all life, the health of the earth must be the primary consideration in our decision-making process.” 

Although alternative forms of energy have their faults, we cannot do without some types of energy and electricity source(s).  We must choose wisely what we use and how much and insure that the precautionary principle is applied to any technology that is developed. The developed world needs to live with less while developing countries need to supply their citizens with the basics needed to live a healthy and rewarding life. 

However, if we do not put on the brakes and slow down, the natural environment will get much worse — and we will be the worst for it.

About Mark Darienzo
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