The late 1970ies saw the rise of various green political movements in Europe. Today they are a fundamental feature of any European parliament. Ever since they were known as those who would fight for Mother Nature and on the side for progressive politics.
Greens are a product of their time. As populations grew ever more affluent, there was time and money to be spent on protecting the environment. Besides, pollution in the Seventies had reached levels that were obviously unsustainable.
The Greens had their moment but now they become more like an old and established political force that has forgotten its origins. Being part of the establishment demanded compromise and all the compromise has led the greens to abandon some most of their fundamental values. That’s something they can never admit of course so they reach for the stars. If it’s unreachable they will never be judged on the real merit of their ideas.
Every movement has its diehards who will never compromise on certain core issues and no matter what someone might think of them; those fundamental positions are the lifeblood of change and progress. Those fundamentalists rattle on the iron gates of the societal structure we live in. With time there is an ever-growing fraction of Realists which try to weave the lofty goals into a fabric that stands the test of real life on the ground. It’s a healthy balance as long as both movements are given their free roam. The Germans have nice names for them, Fundis for the fundamentalists and Realos for the realists – let’s stick with those very fitting descriptions for the sake of this post.
What’s the issue here? Let’s cut an example – Greens demand an all-electric transport sector with supplementary hydrogen fuelling the vehicles that cannot possibly be powered with electricity alone such as the heavy gear. This supposedly frees us from nasty pollutants and shall prepare the way into a better world. Among many discussions that can be held on those issues right now is also the one on how realistic or economically feasible those goals are.
Let’s ask another question. Are we capable to build an ice factory on the moon in order to exploit the enormous cold in the shaded areas of the craters? Of course, we are technically capable to do so. Would it be wise to do so? Certainly not as it is inherently wasteful to do expensively what can be done on earth much more efficiently and cheaply. Why should we waste all the cash and the effort if there are existing, tried and tested, economic and reliable mechanisms here on earth to get exactly the same result? You can of course always argue that going to the moon would create jobs and produce numerous sidekicks because of all the fundamental research that will be accomplished.
The real reason to go for the stars and not more earthly objectives is that there is o need to ever implement one of the lofty policies. The problem is left over to future generations to deal with. That closes the issue for the Greens but the world is left stranded with problems nobody really cares about.
When I presented what damage fine particulates do to human health to the Austrian Greens, I expected them to immediately join the fight against diesel. To my greatest surprise, they not only ducked the issue – they even did their utmost to stymie the issue as best they could. I should add that Austria is having a general election in some months’ time so the greens did not want to enter a fight that would have potentially pitted them against some of those they would have wanted to tie up with, in a coalition.
This is very understandable from a tactical point of view but equally regrettable from a fundamental point of view. What was the basic mantra of the greens again? Yep – protecting the environment and saving the planet from those who want to spoil it to death.
It’s the line in the sand that any person or organization should have and which says, here and no further I will go in order to compromise. Just imagine the various pressure groups who want to abolish the death penalty in the US to agree on selective executions in order to chime better with the general population. They can’t. Of course, they can’t as abolishing death meted out by humans is their core mantra. Take that away and the cohesive glue of the group is gone.
Or just imagine royalists to agree on selective execution of monarchs. Take this one and chop his head off but not the other one – maybe. It’s unthinkable. Whatever camp you belong to on whatever issue – there is a line that you won’t cross. Up until that point, compromise is possible but beyond that its no-no land.
Not so with the greens. In the interest of preserving power, the holy cow is slaughtered. Environmental protection is not the Holy Grail anymore – preservation of power is.
As it always was with strongly ideological groups such as the greens there is a fundamental and holy fight between the Realos and the Fundis. Today’s green movements are largely purged from Fundis and exclusively Realos. That looks like a good thing to many as Realos will compromise on realistic scenarios. It supposedly not back to the Neolithic nature of earth but rather some stronger environmental protection in a still modern world.
Sounds great! Who does not like a realistic Green after decades of hubris on their side? But now the baby got thrown out with the bathwater. Because even Realos are supposed to be greens and if there is an economically feasible solution such as methane gas and LNG as a fuel for vehicles, then I expect them to at least listen up.
I agree, LNG is not heavenly bliss as there still is some very, very little pollution but it’s the best feasible thing. Way better than any diesel can ever be which is why it’s a bit hard for me to understand why Greens in Vienna have agreed to diesel for public buses in the face of better (and cheaper) options.
One might be forgiven to think that they did not know better but once they were told all discussion was stymied. They just don’t want to discuss this issue anymore.
Let’s go a step further. Organizations, such as Greenpeace or Global 2000 as many others, are supposed to fight for a better world. Instead, they just administer their budgets and pick faraway causes such as protecting polar bears as worthwhile topics. But there is much to be done on the home front and it does not get the attention it deserves.
Just because someone calls himself a green does not make him an environmentalist and it’s also valid to attack greens on their environmental deficiencies. Because green paint on the outside does not produce a real green on the inside.
Greens like to go for lofty, unattainable goals such as ending global warming or reducing emissions by whatever percentage as this just keeps them in business. The worst nightmare for a Green party is a totally clean environment and a futuristic world where everyone loves everyone and man is in balance with nature. Because their business model would then be toast – and they with it. So goals must be unattainable instead of realistic.
Lala-land protects Greens from having to do what they are supposed to – working for a really greener and healthier world. It keeps their competitors forever on the side of the accused one – no matter how green he might actually be. But that’s changing too.