The Greenwash Brigade

Hope in the midst of global greenwash

Janne K. Flisrand Dec 23, 2009

I love Jim’s items, but I’ve been advocating for a gift-free family Christmas for years because I dislike obligatory (and all) shopping and never see those ads. This year, I got the “draw names” plan adopted, and my gun-loving brother-in-law (who doesn’t read this blog) is getting a donation to the Minnesota DNR’s firearm safety program.

I still have two highlights – a planetary greenwash champion, and a hopeful greenwash-buster.

First, for all the hype about good work on climate change, claims of progress are hooey. Leading scientists now say we need to limit CO2 to 350ppm to avoid the worst effects – and we’ve already passed it. So, let’s look at the efforts.

  • China is promising to reduce its energy intensity. That’s a fancy way of saying they’ll produce more stuff per unit of energy, but their total emissions will still rise as their economy grows.
  • India is on the same page as China.
  • The US pledged a reduction of around 17% by 2030, but that is only a 6% decrease from the 1990 levels where European set their 20% reduction benchmark.
  • The US implemented Cash for Clunkers, a program set to sell cars rather than reduce emissions.
  • The weatherization funding through the stimulus bill is hopeful… but is only just getting going, and needs to be sustained.
  • Still lacking a global carbon market, offsets are (appropriately) taking more heat for justifying bad climate behavior.
  • And, surprise surprise, the biggest savior of the climate is the economic collapse (opens PDF).

2009’s best greenwash-busting source is mobile GoodGuide access. Some very smart people (the first one a Professor at the University of California-Berkeley) have done detailed research to “provide the world’s largest and most reliable source of information on the health, environmental, and social impacts of the products in your home.” Better yet, they’ve made it accessible while shopping with a mobile phone.

  • If you have an iPhone, their app give you instant information by scanning the bar code.
  • If not, you can text for information on categories of products or for a specific product.

My vote? Send the GoodGuide folks to the next climate change talks.

We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.

Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.

In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.

Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.