It’s Not Easy Being Green

I recently received an email announcing this year’s “Greening the Statehouse” event sponsored annually by the Hoosier Environmental Council.

Greening the Statehouse will be held at the IMMI Conference Center in Westfield, Indiana on November 16th. The day will be filled with informative panels, presentations, and a keynote address all focused on solutions to the climate crisis. As you may recall, GTS is a full day that also includes a light breakfast and lunch. You can learn more at

In my more optimistic moments, I think Americans are finally taking environmental concerns–notably, climate change–seriously. It is past time to do so.

I’ve followed the work of organizations like the Hoosier Environmental Council, and shared the dismay of rational people as we’ve watched the current administration not only block progress, but gleefully regress.

I know I’ve written this before, but the climate calculation is simple.

What will happen if the 97% of climate scientists who warn about climate change are proven wrong (or, as conspiracy theorists would have it–plotting to fool us for some mysterious reason), and we nevertheless listen to them?

What if we proceed to clean up our air and water, improve conservation and move to cleaner energy sources–and then find out that all those scientists were wrong?

In that case, we’ll be “stuck” with a healthier, cleaner environment–air our children and grandchildren can breathe and water they can drink; cheaper and more reliable energy sources, and fewer pesticides in our foods. Bummer. True, the bottom lines of fossil fuel companies will shrink, and they might lose some of the 60 billion dollars in yearly subsidies we taxpayers provide them, but those are the breaks in a market economy.

On the other hand, what if all those climate scientists are right, and we follow what passes for policy in the Trump administration–“saving” coal, subsidizing fossil fuels, failing to clean up our waterways, rolling back air pollution standards…and issuing warnings that wind turbines cause cancer?

In that case, we’ll hasten the time the earth can no longer support human life, at least not human life and civilization as we know it.

This “risk to reward” ratio seems like a no-brainer to me, and I am cautiously optimistic that most people are getting the message. The children certainly are–and it may be the children who save us. Greta Thunberg, the remarkable Swedish teenager, minced no words at the recent climate action summit in New York, telling world leaders “You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.” She accused them of ignoring the science behind the climate crisis, saying: ‘We are in the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth – how dare you!”

Can we dare to hope that at least some of them were listening to her? Can we dare to hope that enough of us are working on voter turnout in 2020–turnout that will dislodge the corrupt and incompetent Trump Administration and install a scientifically-literate one in its place? Can we dare to hope that a majority of earth’s population has come to understand the magnitude–and imminence–of the threat?

I’m writing this in Indiana, where temperatures were in the nineties the first week of October.

If you can, go Green the Statehouse.


  1. The EPA regulations have been ignored for many decades by major corporations regarding all protective areas due to cost; especially those requiring safe disposal or storage of hazardous waste. Little, if anything, was done by government at all levels to force the issue but you could learn some basics of the dangers by watching major movies such as “Silkwood”, “Erin Brockovich” and “A Civil Action” based on true contamination of the environment and loss of lives due to corporate greed. “The China Syndrome” and “Soylent Green” will offer a bit of “science fiction” but; H.G. Welles books, “Twenty Thousand Leagues Beneath The Sea” and “Around The World In 80 Days” were science fiction long before submarines and air travel became the norm.

    Or you might want to watch Al Gore’s shared Nobel Peace Prize for scientific study and Academy Award winning documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” for 21st Century films and maps of environmental destruction happening now. Those who prefer to follow creation – and destruction – of human life in the Bible can rest easy regarding the plague of locusts thanks to Round Up insecticide which is also killing off humans.

    “Out of the mouths of Babes!” Greta Thunberg’s words of wisdom regarding Climate Change and Global Warming regarding stealing childhood and dreams can be coupled with the words of Emma Gonzales and David Hogg who spread their words after surviving the mass shooting in their school which are also words of wisdom regarding the survival of humanity. Future leaders of this world are being killed off by corporate greed and avarice.


  2. I have to work my business Nov. 16, conducting local tours. If I could, I would be in attendance to Greening the Statehouse.

    Usually, I read your column and find response after response. I find it interesting that, on one of the rare occasions you, Sheila, have made a direct request, I hear/read crickets, ie., nothing.

    I’ve learned words without action are merely a conversation. And apparently, a one-sided conversation.

  3. The HEC has done steadfast work considering the political class lines up to industry feed troughs in Indiana. It’s also ironic that we are following record profits in healthcare with environmental issues considering Indiana’s Top 5 ranking as the dirtiest states. We are also in the Top 10 Fattest states.

    Roughly 85-90% of diseases are preventable. If we focused on prevention rather than treating symptoms or waiting until they become a full-fledge disease, then we would save money and spare lives.

    However, that wouldn’t be profitable for the medical industry — especially cancer and diabetes treatment. What about replaceable limbs like knees?

    My physician told me five years ago that there is a reason the hospitals are all building cancer treatment wings in Indiana. Demand is good for business.

    This is why the political class is almost stymied on making any positive changes to our economic system. The profits from one industry are inextricably linked to another and so on and so on.

    Profit over people is the American way. Follow the trail of money. If an industry is making money off cancer, diabetes, and expensive asthma treatments, do you think they care about a clean environment? Do you think they care if subsidized processed food is cheaper than clean healthy food? Do you think they care if Indiana has four super coal-burning plants in southern Indiana?

    When you have an economic system that places profit over people, guess what?

  4. The arguments you present here illustrate why I consider environmentalism to be a fundamentally *conservative* position.

    If you define conservatism as respect for the status quo, and skepticism of sudden, radical, untested change, then what, pray tell, could be more fundamentally conservative than to respect the integrity of the environment on which our whole human existence depends, and to be wary of conducting radical experiments, such as altering the very composition of the atmosphere or creating and releasing dangerous, long-lasting, artificial chemical compounds into the environment, that threaten to change the planet in harmful and irreversible ways, with no backup plan? (It’s not as if we have a spare Earth sitting around in someone’s attic.)

    In some ways it’s similar to the famous philosophical position known as Pascal’s wager. Option one, conserving our environment, has a finite cost in the short term and potentially infinite benefits (long term survival and prosperity for humanity and the rest of the Earth’s inhabitants) in the long term. Option two, ignoring it, has finite benefits in the short term and potentially infinite harm (escalating ecological harm resulting in hardship and possible extinction) in the long term. Which is the prudent, conservative option? And which is the radical, risky gamble?

    Unfortunately, present-day “conservatism” has become little more than a cult of racial and religious bigotry, led (to the extent that it is intelligently led at all) by fundamentalist ideologues who relentlessly promote one value and one value only, the unfettered pursuit of their own short-term profits and power over every other consideration. In doing so, it has ceased to be anything that I recognize as a coherent philosophical position.

  5. Our situation might be called an addiction. We are addicted to our present economic forms and ways of life, so we do not want to face the pain of having to change priorities even though we know the eventual outcome of change will bring great benefits to us and our children. It won’t be easy, but it must be done.

  6. One of the reasons that the battle between authoritarianism and liberalism seems each and every time in history to be harder than it should be is simple. Authoritarianism in search of power by some over all, in comparison to liberal equal freedom for all, simply has no compunction about employing advertising/fake news/propaganda/brainwashing, simply professional lying, to achieve their ends. It’s lies vs truth every time. Some of every demographic would rather be lied to if it helps to achieve their ends, the others insist on the truth no matter.

    Anthropogenic Global Warming is not different. When I started out on my quest I was sure that education was the answer but soon found that education, which must be limited to only truth, is not what people who I was trying to educate wanted. Many already had been exposed to the truth many times. They simply didn’t like it because it didn’t promise them the power that lies did.

    This truism was taught to Agent Orange by his father and Roy Cohen growing up as part of his personal brand management skills and he’s never been held accountable for the damage that it’s done.

    At least as of yet.

    Democrats can educate him on that.

  7. It is not easy being green, especially when the Corporately controlled government ignores and/or allows us to be poisoned or just screwed in general in a variety of ways.

    Felix , makes a good point about Conservatism, concerning ideology. A careful, cautious approach backed up by Science, with the idea of do no harm competed with Laissez-faire, (French: “allow to do”) policy of minimum governmental interference in the economic affairs of individuals and society.

    Laissez-faire was the big winner which has morphed into Steroid Capitalism. Today, it is blind belief that the “Market” knows best. The “Market” is held up to be as true as Newton’s Laws of Motion or Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. The “Market” of course is at it’s core controlled by humans and not some natural forces. The goal of these humans who control is Profit. So we have the blind belief that the “Market” is best solution to Health Care in the USA.

    Negative Externalities are typically ignored by Steroid Capitalism. Given that our Government at all levels are powerfully influenced by the 1% or large corporations it is no surprise that Negative Externalities are rarely if ever factored into the decision making process. Even if Negative Externalities are factored in – Profit- always comes first.

  8. Capitalism is based only on make more money now regardless of the impact on any others ever and seeks to optimize the ability of entities private or corporate to accumulate wealth.

    Anyone who believes that that leads to a satisfying existence for either knows little about satisfaction.

  9. Trees may be a major component of our salvation, so perhaps Trump’s tariffs that have destroyed soybean and corn markets will turn out to be a good thing. Imagine the billions of trees we could plant in old corn and soybean fields while we are bringing our solar and wind energy base up to speed while detoxing our water, both fresh and salt.

  10. “What if we proceed to clean up our air and water, improve conservation and move to cleaner energy sources–and then find out that all those scientists were wrong?

    In that case, we’ll be “stuck” with a healthier, cleaner environment–air our children and grandchildren can breathe and water they can drink; cheaper and more reliable energy sources, and fewer pesticides in our foods.”

    @Sheila, This is one of the best illustrations of another way of looking at why we should clean up our environment no matter what. Except for lower profits for the oil, gas and coal industries, becoming greener is a win-win-win future. Iʻll use this explanation when I come across any climate-deniers who still have their heads stuck in the sand. Thanks!

  11. It came to me the other day ( in one of my more melancholy moments) that we can all take comfort in knowing that even if we do continue to muck up our environment the earth will continue to be here in some state long after we are gone. Sometime in the future an this will give some organism the opportunity to start all over again. In the words of Kurt Vonnegut… And so it goes.

  12. Below is the E-mail I just received from my friend in Santa Clara, CA, have seen nothing about this on the news but we all remember the wildfires from last year, I found it to be of interest on this blog. If the city of Santa Clara, California can provide electricity without fossil fuel and President Jimmy Carter can erect enough solar panels to provide power for his home town; it is obvious there are alternatives to fossil fuel to power large areas of this country. Imagine several counties in the state of Indiana with no power source. Reminds me of the science fiction movie “The Day The Earth Stood Still” becoming a reality.

    “I don’t know whether you’ve heard anything about our weather but we are into fire season, hot, dry and windy. So PG&E who was responsible for the fires that killed so many in Paradise has shut of electricity to all nine bay area counties and 34 counties north of the bay. It may be off until next Wednesday. Pam’s was in the shut off zone so she went out yesterday to buy some flashlights/lanterns, but the shelves were clean. No flashlights to be had. She went from store to store, hardware stores, drug stores, sporting goods stores, not a flashlight or lantern left. There were long lines at gas stations and people with electric cars are shit-out-of-luck. No charging. No charging of cell phones, laptops, etc. No hot water for shower, no morning coffee. Stores, restaurants closed. Lots of tourists in the wine country who have to suffer through this too. Winds were 35-40 mph and gusts to 50 mph. I am so very lucky to live in the only town that has its own electricity. And ours is now all generated from renewable sources, wind, hydro and solar.”

  13. Energy is indiscriminate between doing our work and destroying our stuff. It’s up to us alone to manage the benefits from it vs the threats from it.

    Climate change is bar far the biggest threat we have faced from it.

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