Environment Viewed in Opposition to Economy

As the international community faces mounting costs of oil spill clean-ups, unseasonable natural disasters and health issues linked to toxic air and water supplies, the perpetuation of the idea that going green is bad for the economy is perhaps one of the worst examples of doublethink. But increasingly, shifting away from fossil fuels and toward clean, renewable energy systems is pitted against the more immediate gratification of economic gain.

An article in today's Independent quotes New Economics Foundation policy director Andrew Simms decrying this reality: "We have submitted control over our own environmental destiny to a set of economic ideas that parade as if they were unquestionable, natural laws," Simms said.

Simms seems to be hitting on a troubling zeitgeist shift concerning environmental stewardship. While converting to a green economy could spur job creation and ultimately save money, the message that conservation is fiscally irresponsible is increasingly pervasive. Last week's New York Times quotes a spokesman for emerging Republican leader John Boehner attempting to reassure voters Boehner is not concerned with "environmentalists who support job-killing policies."

Organizations like Overbrook grantee Green For All have the facts to refute such statements. Check out their blog post on China's wind energy initiative (quickly on its way to surpassing the United States) here.

Grist, also an Overbrook grantee, referenced stories from the Associated Press and the Wall Street Journal proving fears of catastrophic job loss from a drilling moratorium in the Gulf were unfounded. (Not to mention BP's exploitative use of prison labor to work on clean-up efforts instead of paying newly out-of-work locals a fair wage!)

Last Friday, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund hosted an informational session on the Ecuadorian government's unprecedented new program to "keep the oil in the soil." The Yasuni-ITT initiative will prevent drilling in the incredibly biodiverse Yasuni National Park, if the international community will repay Ecuador half the forgone funds it would have gained from drilling and exporting. Minister of Heritage Maria Fernanda Espinosa explained the $3.6 billion fund will be used to convert Ecuador to a green energy economy. Success of the Yasuni plan has yet to be proven, but its implementation could signify the beginning of a needed backlash to the erroneous "green=poor," or "green=job-loss" mentality. Amazon Watch, yet another Overbrook grantee, has been monitoring the Yasuni initiative from the beginning.