The control panel on my treadmill just died. It appears to be something electrical. I decided to use it anyway, moving the tread with my own feet. While it looks as though I'm slogging through a marsh, it's grueling lower body work, similar to cross-country skiing uphill--without using any electricity.
New York City's 'green' Christmas tree campaign is more symbolic than anything else. But why not use LED lights, powered by solar panels instead of tungsten lights powered by coal-generated electricity to make the tree sparkle in the cold winter's air? Light-emitting diodes are soothing, and solar power is pretty hip. The tree is going to be chopped up and donated to Habitat for Humanity when the holiday season is over, and the land from which the tree was taken is going to be revitalized. This is some cool green stuff.
One aspect of the campaign strikes me as counterproductive, however, if spreading the appeal of 'going green' is the intention:
The City Hall news release also boasted that this year’s tree was cut with a handheld saw for the first time, to reduce energy consumption.The tree is more than 35 feet wide. Using a handheld saw, the two burly lumberjacks who took the spruce down must've toiled for hours. Technological regression is not appealing to the vast majority of people living in modern societies (or the billions of people aspiring to live in them). This isn't as absurd as the overtly misanthropic, anti-natalist campaigning of some environmentalists, but the two share a disdain for modernity, a sure loser in the realm of public opinion.
I'm reminded of the 'No Impact Man', who forsakes toilet paper and the transportation of food as mortally damaging to the planet. To aspire to live the life of a vegetarian caveman appeals to a small sliver of people, virtually all of whom set themselves up to be revealed as hypocrites. Al Gore has been obliterated thus, being spotlighted for having too many kids, living in a 20-room mansion, using more than 20 times the electricity of the average American, flying around in a private jet to exotic places like Bali, and so on. This crowd strikes me as being more concerned with moral posturing as a means of distinguishing themselves from the burghers below than actually effecting real change.
Digressing for a second, having read much on the Crusades recently, I see similarities between the technologically regressive green movement and the monastic reformers of the Church in the latter-half of the Eleventh Century who eventually gained control of the papacy (Urban II, who 'launched' the First Crusade, was a major reformer):
It is no exaggeration to say that they wanted to monastacize the Christian world. They dreamed of a clergy, celibate and untainted by worldy values, ministering to lay men and women who as far as they were able lived lives and adopted devotional practices that corresponded to monastic ones. ...The reformers saw the mass pilgrimage as a way of instilling within the lay community the monastic vows they sought to live by. That didn't much happen, as most people weren't too keen on foregoing the stuff of life. Instead, the reforming movement led to an embracing of a liberalized Augustinian justification for righteous violence that would help characterize the Church for more than half a millenium. And it was the liberation of the Holy Sepulchre from the control of Muslims (paynim), not the idea of living like a monk, that moved the men who marched alongside Godfrey of Bouillon and Raymond of Toulouse into the Levant.
Most extraordinary of all is the way the papacy was captured by them... Only once, in the later eleventh century, can it be said that the popes found themselves in the invigorating but dangerously exposed positition of being the leaders of a radical party in the Church.
Alternative energy sources must be made economically viable to be used in any serious capacity. Nuclear power is the most obvious candidate for baseload power, but the competition among photovoltaics, batteries, wind, hydro, and other variable sources to see widespread use is going to come down to economics. And for any of these to be more economical than coal and petrol, technological progress is required. The environmental movement should focus on showing people how living a green lifestyle does not mean living the life of a modern-day, secular Benedictine.