Michelle's Reviews > Green Gone Wrong: How Our Economy Is Undermining the Environmental Revolution

Green Gone Wrong by Heather Rogers
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's review
Jun 16, 2010

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bookshelves: politics-economics, science-issues
Read from June 16 to 19, 2010

Well. Saw this author on "Stossel" and was interested enough, even knowing that we'd have some differences, to pick the book up at the library. I appreciate the author for the work that she has done to trace whether the "green" movement is really doing much good. (Answer: A lot of it isn't.) For example, she shows how organic, Fair Trade businesses really aren't following rules that would improve the environment. The push for biofuels is causing massive deforestation in Indonesia. The Prius isn't exactly an environmental panacea. And carbon offsets are a joke. So I am appreciative of her research. As expected, I have a number of differences with Rogers. First of all, I wish she'd take an economics class or two and learn to distinguish between "free markets" and government intervention. She frequently described a mess, partially caused by government, labels it a "market failure" and issues a call for . . . surprise, more government. She does a really good job reporting on "beyond organic" small family farms in New York, shows that their livelihood is in jeopardy, discusses the effect of USDA and other regulations and how much it costs them, then labels the difficulty a market failure and calls for more government regulation and support--when USDA rules and stupid farm subsidy rules got them into the mess in the first place. She also goes to great lengths to show how big businesses in bed with governments here and abroad in Paraguay are making "certified organic" certifications virtually meaningless. Later in the book she lauds cooperative, free associations instead of government certifications. But she still thinks the "certified organic" government certification is a market failure and more government is needed instead. ??? To my disappointment, she also does not really examine the total idiocy of the ethanol requirements in this country--she does touch briefly on the effect of driving up food prices, but does not come to, say, Iowa where I live and investigate the effects of increasing monoculture, more water use, more fertilizer and pesticide runoff in the corn belt, OR the issue that biofuels are LESS efficient than gas and so even if it's "green" you need MORE of it, and in the end, probably MORE carbon is being released than if we just used gas. Sigh. Still, the book is valuable for the research into why the good we THINK we are doing isn't really saving the planet, and isn't going to. Too bad our policy makers will likely pay no attention.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Lindsay (new)

Lindsay Good review.

message 2: by Mackenzie (new) - added it

Mackenzie She does address inefficiency of biofuels and say more carbon is released by producing and using them than petrol would. It's on page 2. "It required more energy to grow and refine corn ethanol than the alt-fuel could provide" and "corn ethanol,was a net loser when it came to preventing carbon dioxide emissions."

message 3: by Ian (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ian James The problem with existing regulation of organic foods should not be reduced to the tired old Fox News/Republican criticism of more government. The book was very clear: the organic food industry is failing to live up to its promise because of the poor way regulations are run. Self-regulation and for-profit private enterprise 3rd-party certification is clearly inadequate. Yes, the answer actually IS more government. Only the government can defeat the rapacious forces of pure profit. We need unbiased, objective certification from the government, which means it needs to be properly funded, which means taxes. Yes, if we want to save the world, we will have to pay to do it. Or we can just keep wallowing in selfishness and our refusal to pay anything for the common good and the insistence that government is bad. But that is just buying into the corporatist propaganda. Government is the way we, the people, organize to get the world arranged the way we want it. Why have we let ourselves be tricked by the corporations into believing that government is bad?

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