Preface: Before I launch into another bla bla, let me preface by saying, as a renewable energy ‘evangelist’,  I do my best to practice what I preach to minimize my carbon footprint. Because I aspire to be a project engineer, taking work where ever it may present, I have downsized my belongings to ~35 cubic feet, bicycle, walk, or take mass transpo just about everywhere (and when I cannot do this, I use a car sharing service), go out of my way to purchase local produce, eat very little meat, compost, recycle and thrift for clothes (when needed). Essentially, when I consume, I do my best to try to relegate it to just foodstuffs, and purchasing local foodstuffs at that.

For many years now, I have wondered if all this commodification of the environmental revolution was indeed as mindful about preserving our living space as intended. It was about five years ago, while in The Netherlands, when I was sitting in an environmental science class that focused on energy and resources, that this notion piqued my interest. I wondered, if my toxic emissions from, say flying, were singularly mine. What I came to learn in this class, is my emissions are linked to a larger socioeconomic reliant on polluting to maintain it’s status–mopping up our ‘mess’ cost more than dumping, poking holes in our space ship and extracting its rich resources. I was/am troubled.

I was duly troubled in this class when I came to better understand more about the Kyoto Protocol Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), after only months prior to, performing quantitative carbon sink calculations in a Quantitative Aspects of Global Environmental Problems course at UCBerkeley. For those of you that don’t know what the CDM represents, it is a mechanism that…

…allows a country with an emission-reduction or emission-limitation commitment under the Kyoto Protocol (Annex B Party) to implement an emission-reduction project in developing countries. Such projects can earn saleable certified emission reduction (CER) credits, each equivalent to one tonne of CO2, which can be counted towards meeting Kyoto targets.

I have often wondered if ‘green’ is truly as green as intended. So, I instead,  go out of my way to use the operative ‘greener.‘ I often cogitate on whether the well-intended purchasing of organic foodstuffs (Certified Organic, Fair Trade, etc.), energy efficient homes/appliances, biofuels, green cars, CO2-offsets really all that ecologically green.

I have been reading Green Gone Wrong – How Our Economy is Undermining the Environmental Revolution. I have found a like-minded, empathetic soul in Heather Rogers and her sobering read. As she closes in her Introduction:

…we have the capacity to find solutions that are not simply products to buy, but ways of engaging with how we live and what we want our world to be.

Ja, buying/consuming to me equates to certain death of our ecosystem–that is, if we persist in conducting our lifestyles the current manner–and if this climatology positive feedback loop I am certain we are immersed doesn’t end up sanitizing all life/current lifestyles as we know it.

I am looking forward to reading the chapter on one of the greenest cities in the world, Vauban neighborhood of Frieburg, Germany which has been practicing sustainable development for years. I was fortunate enough to engage some of these visionaries this past summer at the InterSolar 2010 Convention in San Francisco. I had some nice chats on how this city rose from the ashes of WWII dealt with a finite amount of electricity to service a growing population, scale and passive, more sustainable living spaces where green living is compulsory–but, they have had their own growing pains, too.

And so, to ask the question, since it’s highly unlikely humans will cease consuming, will Earth-friendly products save our space ship? Dubious…