Green Gone Wrong
How Our Economy Is Undermining the Environmental Revolution
By Heather Rogers
(Scribner, Hardcover, 9781416572220, 272pp.)
Publication Date: April 20, 2010
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In Green Gone Wrong environmental writer Heather Rogers blasts through the marketing buzz of big corporations and asks a simple question: Do today’s much-touted "green" products—carbon offsets, organic food, biofuels, and eco-friendly cars and homes—really work? Implicit in efforts to go green is the promise that global warming can be stopped by swapping out dirty goods for "clean" ones. But can earth-friendly products really save the planet?
This far-reaching, riveting narrative explores how the most readily available solutions to environmental crisis may be disastrously off the mark. Rogers travels the world tracking how the conversion from a "petro" to a "green" society affects the most fundamental aspects of life—food, shelter, and transportation. Reporting from some of the most remote places on earth, Rogers uncovers shocking results that include massive clear-cutting, destruction of native ecosystems, and grinding poverty. Relying simply on market forces, people with good intentions wanting to just "do something" to help the planet are left feeling confused and powerless.
Green Gone Wrong reveals a fuller story, taking the reader into forests, fields, factories, and boardrooms around the world to draw out the unintended consequences, inherent obstacles, and successes of eco-friendly consumption. What do the labels "USDA Certified Organic" and "Fair Trade" really mean on a vast South American export-driven organic farm? A superlow-energy "eco-village" in Germany’s Black Forest demonstrates that green homes dramatically shrink energy use, so why aren’t we using this technology in America? The decisions made in Detroit’s executive suites have kept Americans driving gas-guzzling automobiles for decades, even as U.S. automakers have European models that clock twice the mpg. Why won’t they sell these cars domestically? And what does carbon offsetting really mean when projects can so easily fail? In one case thousands of trees planted in drought-plagued Southern India withered and died, releasing any CO2 they were meant to neutralize.
Expertly reported, this gripping exposé pieces together a global picture of what’s happening in the name of today’s environmentalism. Green Gone Wrong speaks to anyone interested in climate change and the future of the natural world, as well as those who want to act but are caught not knowing who, or what, to believe to protect the planet. Rogers casts a sober eye on what’s working and what’s not, fearlessly pushing ahead the debate over how to protect the planet.
Heather Rogers is a journalist and author. She has written for the New York Times Magazine, Mother Jones, and The Nation. Her first book, Gone Tomorrow: The Hidden Life of Garbage, traces the history and politics of household garbage in the United States.
"The climate crisis is far too urgent to squander another decade on false solutions. This carefully researched, deeply human, and eminently sensible investigation arrives just in the nick of time. Let's hope it inspires a radical course correction."
--Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine
“Heather Rogers reminds us with vivid examples that there's no way we can just subcontract our environmental conscience to the new breed of green marketers. We have a very narrow window to preserve some version of our planet, and we can't afford the kind of egregious mistakes this volume identifies with such precision. If it's too good to be true, it's not true--even if it comes with a shiny green wrapper.”
--Bill McKibben, author Earth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet
"With deft and adventuresome reporting from around the world, Heather Rogers looks beneath the surface of today's market- based "solutions" to our environmental challenges and skillfully distinguishes between reality and illusion. Business as usual won't do, Rogers tells us, no matter how much we green it."
--Annie Leonard, author of The Story of Stuff
"Heather Rogers brilliantly and lethally exposes "green" capitalism for the chicanery that it is. While it may be disappointing to find out that "organic" and even "fair trade" don't mean squat - not to mention, of course, "carbon offsetting," which turns out to be even stupider than it sounds - these pages make clear what the answer is: stop making colorful excuses for the system that's driving us off the cliff, and instead make shifts in our economic priorities to bring about real change. May Rogers's book guide our feet."
--The Yes Men
"By going beyond exposé to analysis, Rogers gives a deeper assessment of environmental problems and solutions than the usual global-warming investigative book."
Rogers “exposes how the “green” movement is failing to live up to the promise of sustainability and stewardship of the environment when the solutions are hijacked by economic and political interests. [Her] clear-headed approach proves effective in uncovering the truths behind the mantle of greenwashing.”