From the Archives: Toward a Green Economy (1991)

in Culture

The nationwide popularity of the Earth Week 1990 festivities showed the concern that Americans feel about the continuing degradation of the global environment. The twentieth anniversary celebration of the original Earth Day focused on ways that individual citizens can reduce waste and retard pollution. From coast to coast, a plethora of multimedia displays demonstrated the need for recycling used materials and lowering power consumption. They showed the changes in lifestyle necessary to halt the poisoning of the Earth.

An environmentally-conscious populace would prove to be a frugal one if those Earth Week programs were adopted. Assuming that the American people would be willing to cut back on energy consumption and muster the effort to recycle their trash, would industrial corporations and energy producers be willing to do the same? Would corporate America drop the aggressive sales pitches, stop spending billions to encourage people to buy impulsively? Would people be able to kick the mass consumption habit that’s been generations in the making? Would corporate America ever entertain the idea of abstaining from its short-term profit fix, and consider the consequences of quick-return capitalism for future generations of life on Earth?

President Bush’s speech—given just days after Earth Week 1990 at the 17-nation conference dealing with global pollution held in Washington, DC—drew criticism from European participants. Bush’s emphasis on scientific and economic uncertainties was seen as White House foot dragging on the environmental issue.

A memo prepared by administration staffers for members of the US delegation, under the heading “Debates To Avoid,” instructed delegates to avoid discussion of “whether there is or is not [global] warming, or how much or how little warming. In the eyes of the public we will lose this debate. A better approach is to raise the many uncertainties that need to be better …

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Author: Lynn Osburn / High Times

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