Term Paper: Green Living

Pages: 8 (2701 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 7  ·  Topic: Transportation - Environmental Issues  ·  Buy This Paper

¶ … Green Here to Stay?

The "Green Movement" encompasses the ideology of ecology, conservation, environmental concerns, the feminist movement, and peace movement. If it sounds like the hippies of the 1960s grown up, it is probably at least partially true. Everything is going "green" from building materials to political parties. The "green" ticket is the rallying cry for those that support environmentalism, sustainable living, nonviolence, and humanitarian concerns. Actors and politicians alike endorse the green movement. Green has invaded pop culture and appears to be here to stay. The conflict arises because we live in a consumer-oriented society. This research will explore the green movement and its future.

History of the Green Movement

In the early 1970s, it may have seemed as if the days of the flower child were over. Many considered the days of love-ins, sit-ins and flower power to be a fad that was quickly fading into a more sensible era. However, in March of 1972, it became apparent that some heavy hitters had taken notice of the message promoted by the younger generation. In March of 1972, the world's first green party was formed at a meeting in Hobart, Australia (Thomas). Within the next year, several other similar groups were formed around the world. The green movement had officially begun.

In the beginning, these groups were passed off as radicals of little importance to the world order as whole. However, by the 1980s, these groups were able to get the attention of national governments and NATO (Tzortzis). The German Greens won 27 seats in the Bundestag in 1983. They adopted the symbol of the sunflower to represent their concerns for the environment. The German Greens became one of the most successful green parties in the world, and paved the way for the success of other green parties worldwide.

One of the key hallmarks of the green movement is that they will not allow trade-offs for any reason other than humanitarian. The Green movement places concern for the environment at the top of their list. It is difficult to argue their cause. Who in their right mind would not be concerned about destruction of the resources that we need to live on planet earth? Although one cannot question their key motives, some say that they take things too far.

The green party is thought to have grown from a grassroots movement, beginning in local neighborhoods then spreading to regional and eventually national governments. There are many different "colors" of greens from those that only become involved in major environmental concerns to those that hold views that are more radical and participate in politics. Now there are global green gatherings with hundreds in attendance. Greens gather for the purpose of exchanging ideas and uniting for a common cause. Although greens may differ in their views of specific concerns, they are united in their concern for the environment and use this as a cornerstone of their agenda.

Although greens are united in their general concern for the environment, local groups use the global network to champion their own local issues. Local greens will network to gain support to clean up local streams and rivers. Many green parties are working on a local level to change situations that affect their local community. The green movement is now a political force to be reckoned with on many levels.

The Green Wake-up Call

Recent natural disasters have brought issues of the environment to the forefront of American culture. The California wildfires, Hurricane Katrina, and record snowfall in New England are only the most recent of natural disasters to cause people to ask for an explanation. The green movement has used these disasters as a springboard for their warnings about what the world must do to save itself from further destruction. How much responsibility we have for "causing" these disaster is a topic of unresolved debate. However, the green movement sees these disasters as signs of our carelessness in years past.

Greens are against consumerism, which seems to be a contradiction in a world where supposedly "green" industries continue to waste resources in the name of profit. When the green movement tried to move the public to action, they failed, not because their message was flawed, but because their solutions to the problem were not acceptable to the general public (Steffen). The solutions proposed to help save plant earth from the evils of global warming took away many of the comforts that make America what it is today. They suggested that people turn down their thermostats, start walking more, and change their eating habits so that they would be more environmentally sound (Steffen).

This was the most recent failure of the green movement to effect the changes that they saw as necessary. These answers are the same ones that did not work for the hippie movement of the 1960s either. America had become accustomed to rampant consumerism that began in the post World War II era. Consumerism had come to define America and to give up the creature comforts to which we had become accustomed seemed somewhat un-American. What was needed was a new plan that would satisfy the concerns of environmentalists, yet would not hit the average consumer as deeply as the previous message.

Green goes Pop

On the eve of global climate change, a new green movement has begun to arise. This new color of green embraces the same concerns as the old movement, but looks to technology and business for new solutions to the old problems (Steffen). The root of the problem is that the forces that drive American consumerism were conceived long before we fully understood the consequences to the environment (Steffen). Technology and business are now attempting to revamp the old systems so that they are more environmentally friendly. This would seem like the ultimate win-win situation for everyone.

This new scheme for the green movement was did not have the same effect of dividing forces into the "green good" and the "industrial evil." The new definition of environmental change meant that business could continue to prosper, yet they could do it in a way that would not lead to our ultimate destruction. This was exactly what everyone seemed to be looking for and the dawning of a new atmosphere of cooperation between being green and good business.

Rather than being swept under rug, environmental concern became the new anthem of advertising. Soon everyone was advertising what he or she was doing to try to help the environment. Many of these new green solutions turned out to be more economical as well, saving costs and the environment at the same time. More companies continued to jump on the bandwagon. Before anyone knew it, being green was mainstream, it was no longer restricted to a minority of radicals. Green had become popular and marketable.

Technology has found new ways to try to break old destructive habits, designing more environmentally friendly solutions to old problems. The new Toyota Prius is a car that uses a combination of fuel and electricity to increase gas mileage. Not only does it increase gas mileage, in the bigger picture, it decreases our dependence on fossil fuels. Technology behind the green movement was not the problem, now companies had to make the mass public buy it. All of the green technology in the world does no good unless they can get the American public to buy it.

According to Ernest Bastien, VP of Toyota's vehicle operations group "We're at the edge of making the internal combustion engine similar to regular film for a camera," (Koerner, online). However, this may be a bit premature as 99% of Toyota's sales last year were for traditionally powered gasoline engine cars (Koerner). Manufacturers responding to the need for green products have to find a way bring their products to the mass market.

Just as in times past, the turned to Hollywood and the mass media to influence public awareness and opinions regarding their products. TV networks began devoting airtime to increase awareness of green issues. NBC even devoted an entire week to "Green" shows. The real question is whether this reflects a change in philosophy or whether it is a publicity stunt to boost ratings before returning to the same old programming (Makower). This has been a question with many of the former "evil" doers who have decided to embrace the green movement.

Universal Pictures has decided to run environmental public service announcements as part of its online movie trailers and in theater lobby ads (Makower). This campaign bears resemblance to the media campaign launched in World War II to unite the U.S. In support for the war effort. When the government needed to unite the country for the common good, they turned to Hollywood, newspapers, radio, and posted thousand of posters to promote the need to conserve and ration for the war effort (Miller). Everyone is familiar with Rosy the Riveter's familiar "We Can Do it! " image. To those that have been paying attention, this media… [END OF PREVIEW]

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