Green, not black and white

10 Jan

If the 1980s is remembered for greed is good, then this decade may come to be associated with ‘green is good’.

Who could argue with sustainability? The goal of long-term commercial success matched by reduced environmental impact and enhanced social good.

The problem is that the issues are rarely black and white. Take today’s announcement on nuclear power. Is nuclear energy green? Yes, if you limit your focus to carbon emissions. No, if you consider the long term problems of radioactive waste management. Is it economically viable and socially acceptable? The equation becomes harder still since you need to calculate for thousands of years of geological, political and social stability.

The anti-nuclear arguments are often misleading, though, since campaigners deliberately seek to confuse civil and military uses.

The CIPR has entered this challenging area with some draft Best Practice Guidelines for Environmental Sustainability Communications. This looks like a sensible introduction to the area, though Caroline Wilson (an academic expert in the field) thinks the advice is ‘a bit general’.

2 Responses to “Green, not black and white”

  1. Stephen Newton 11/01/2008 at 12:21 pm #

    It’s interesting that you ask ‘who can argue with sustainability’ but the idea is flawed and the word misused. Sustainable ecosystems don’t tend to occur in nature, with the exception of those suffering from stagnation. Succession is the natural order of things.
    That doesn’t mean doing nothing; it means we should try to understand where we’re heading, roll with the punches and do what we can to ensure the environment evolves in the best way possible.
    The other way we’re hear sustainability misused is in talk of things like ‘sustainable communities’. We don’t mean these communities to be sustained, but rather radically changed and succeeded by new communities free of poverty, anti-social behaviour et cetera. You might argue that a crime and poverty ridden community is, like a stagnant pond, sustainable.

  2. Perhaps it’s best to start at home. How much can we understand of nuclear powers and stuff if we can’t even lead a green lifestyle personally? But I’m all for the green movement. The message reached a lot of people last year and I’m hoping that 2008 will just be as big a year as before. If not bigger.

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