There is such a concept as political correctness. We’ve all read and heard about P.C. and the controversy over its goodness or badness. Usually, being politically correct is simply excruciating levels of politeness. I see no harm in run of the mill P.C. but it can sometimes be simply annoying.
There is a different type of P.C. that I call strategic political correctness. It can manifest in different ways. One common strategic P.C. mode is to accuse someone or some group of being politically correct in a perjorative manner. For example, a bloviator on the radio might accuse Congressman John Doe of being politically correct by sponsoring environmentally friendly legislation in Congress. What the bloviator and his audience don’t realize is that the bloviator is also espousing political correctness. That is, if you dare to disagree with the commentator you have become one of the heathen enemies.
Another type of strategic political correctness is expressed by advocating a mental paradigm shift through public relations and advertising campaigns. It’s all about molding public perceptions regarding the product and/or the corporation that is the focus of the campaign. In this day and age, the way to go is through Greenwashing campaigns. All you need to do is have a large advertising budget so you can get out the message that your product or industry loves to protect the environment and is the best way to achieve an environmentally friendly life.
Some of the more transparently blatant examples include the greenwash marketing of the coal industry, nuclear power and the automotive manufacturers. Whether you favor or hate those industries is beside the point. The problem is the greenwashing of those industries and their products. Check out https://bluejayblog.wordpress.com/2011/07/11/irrational-exceptions/
as to the angle of this type of campaign. To say that burning coal to produce power is more green than wind turbines, conservation and recycling is not only inaccurate but seems somehow a bit evil. That is the essence of greenwashing.
Fortunately, a large share of the public recognizes the deception for what it is. Anti-coal folks curse the greenwashing. Pro coal industry folks just shrug their shoulders and chalk it up to pragmatic marketing.
A slightly more subtle greenwashing takes place in the motor vehicle manufacturing and sales industry. There are several car and truck models that are marketed as “environmentally friendly” choices. They range from SUVs and pickups all the way down to hybrids and electrics. None of them really are green, but we’ve been told that they are. I write this from the perspective of a guy who enjoys cars and loves to drive them. Someday, I want to own and drive a hybrid or an electric car. I think they’re great ideas and I admire them.
That said, they’re not really green. For instance, hybrids may use much less gasoline, and that’s a huge positive in their favor. However the manufacturing process as with all vehicles is certainly not green. Then there is the need to replace and process the very expensive batteries when they eventually wear out. The same for fully electric vehicles. Unless they’re recharged with solar cells, they must be plugged into the electrical power grid. That means, indirectly, your electric Chevy or Honda is running on coal or nuclear energy. Either choice is filthy. Plus, your electric car’s energy has been processed and is second hand. Also, the batteries will eventually need to be replaced/recycled as in the example of hybrids.
Again, I would really enjoy owning a Prius or Camry hybrid very much. More so, a fully electric Tesla sport coupe would be a dream car for me. But my purchase of such a car or cars would not be based upon any greenwashing campaign put out by Toyota or Tesla, Inc. I would want one because I think it’s a wonkish, cool gadget type of vehicle that would be loads of fun to drive.
There are other greenwashed industries, too. The computer and IT industries benefit greatly through the perception that they sell clean products. Again I write from the perspective that I enjoy electronic gadgetry and find great value in my laptop and mobile phone. After all I’m blogging right now and am loving it. But I still remember that these gadgets certainly are not green by any stretch. From the process of manufacturing semi-conductors and circuit boards, to the stamping out of the cases and housings from plastics, to the shipping, a lot of energy and pollution went into the making of my humble laptop.
I am mindful of the fact that these products are manufactured in Asian sweatshops under often demeaning and inhumane conditions. The factories severely contaminate the cities, villages and agricultural land around them. The finished products are then loaded onto large ships that use vast quantities of fuel and also disrupt the ecosystems of the oceans. In turn these are shipped by rail or truck to the end user.
I’m also mindful of the fact that these handy devices from overseas did not originate in the San Francisco Bay Area, or Texas or Arizona or Ohio and the American workers who are now unemployed. The gadgets have largely been the products of our nemisis, Communist China.
I purposely remind myself of these facts every day when I boot up my laptop or switch on my phone or camera. I’m grateful for the technology plus the enjoyment and convenience they add to my life. I wish there was a cleaner, more human friendly way to make, distribute and eventually dispose of these things.
Much of what we take in each day has its impact on our planet. That can’t be avoided. Everything from energy, transportation, communications, food and waste disposal has a green price. The impact can be lessened and monitored by us and by our personal decision making processes. In the end, you and I are accountable. Can we ask ourselves if we, ourselves, are greenwashing our lives?
The Blue Jay of Happiness wonders if a “Blackberry” is tasty.