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Bright green environmentalism

Bright green environmentalism

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Encyclopedia
Bright green environmentalism is an ideology based on the belief that the convergence of technological change
Technological change
Technological change is a term that is used to describe the overall process of invention, innovation and diffusion of technology or processes. The term is synonymous with technological development, technological achievement, and technological progress...

 and social innovation
Social innovation
Social innovation refers to new strategies, concepts, ideas and organizations that meet social needs of all kinds - from working conditions and education to community development and health - and that extend and strengthen civil society....

 provides the most successful path to sustainable development
Sustainable development
Sustainable development is a pattern of resource use, that aims to meet human needs while preserving the environment so that these needs can be met not only in the present, but also for generations to come...

.

Origin and evolution of bright green thinking


The term "bright green", first coined in 2003 by writer Alex Steffen
Alex Steffen
Alex Steffen is an American writer, editor, public speaker and futurist most noted for his bright green ideas.Steffen co-founded and ran the online magazine Worldchanging from its start in 2003 until its closure in 2010...

, refers to the fast-growing new wing of environmentalism
Environmentalism
Environmentalism is a broad philosophy, ideology and social movement regarding concerns for environmental conservation and improvement of the health of the environment, particularly as the measure for this health seeks to incorporate the concerns of non-human elements...

, distinct from traditional forms. Bright green environmentalism aims to provide prosperity in an ecologically sustainable way through the use of new technologies and improved design.

Its proponents tend to be particularly enthusiastic about green energy, electric automobiles, efficient manufacturing systems, bio
Biotechnology
Biotechnology is a field of applied biology that involves the use of living organisms and bioprocesses in engineering, technology, medicine and other fields requiring bioproducts. Biotechnology also utilizes these products for manufacturing purpose...

 and nanotechnologies
Nanotechnology
Nanotechnology is the study of manipulating matter on an atomic and molecular scale. Generally, nanotechnology deals with developing materials, devices, or other structures possessing at least one dimension sized from 1 to 100 nanometres...

, ubiquitous computing
Ubiquitous computing
Ubiquitous computing is a post-desktop model of human-computer interaction in which information processing has been thoroughly integrated into everyday objects and activities. In the course of ordinary activities, someone "using" ubiquitous computing engages many computational devices and systems...

, dense urban settlements
New urbanism
New Urbanism is an urban design movement, which promotes walkable neighborhoods that contain a range of housing and job types. It arose in the United States in the early 1980s, and has gradually continued to reform many aspects of real estate development, urban planning, and municipal land-use...

, closed loop
Closed loop
Closed loop may refer to:* A feedback loop, often found in:** Control theory#Closed-loop transfer function, where a closed-loop controller may be used** Electronic feedback loops in electronic circuits** PID controller, a commonly used closed-loop controller...

 materials cycles and sustainable product designs. "One-planet living" is a frequently heard buzz-phrase
Buzzword
A buzzword is a term of art, salesmanship, politics, or technical jargon that is used in the media and wider society outside of its originally narrow technical context....

. They tend to focus extensively on the idea that through a combination of well-built communities, new technologies and sustainable living practices, quality of life can actually be improved even while ecological footprints shrink.

The term "bright green" has been used with increased frequency due to the promulgation of these ideas through the Internet and recent coverage in the traditional media.

Dark greens, light greens and bright greens


Alex Steffen describes contemporary environmentalist
Environmentalist
An environmentalist broadly supports the goals of the environmental movement, "a political and ethical movement that seeks to improve and protect the quality of the natural environment through changes to environmentally harmful human activities"...

s as being split into three groups, "dark", "light", and "bright" greens.

"Light greens" see protecting the environment first and foremost as a personal responsibility. They fall in on the transformational activist end of the spectrum, but light greens do not emphasize environmentalism as a distinct political ideology, or even seek fundamental political reform
Reformism
Reformism is the belief that gradual democratic changes in a society can ultimately change a society's fundamental economic relations and political structures...

. Instead they often focus on environmentalism as a lifestyle choice. The motto "Green is the new black
The new black
"_____ is the new black" is a snowclone used to indicate the sudden popularity or versatility of an idea at the expense of the popularity of a second idea. It is the originator of the phrasal template "X is the new Y". The phrase seemed to have started in the 1950s or 1960s and became very popular...

" sums up this way of thinking, for many. This is different from the term "lite green", which some environmentalists use to describe products or practices they believe are greenwash
Greenwash
Greenwashing , or "green sheen", is a form of spin in which green PR or green marketing is deceptively used to promote the perception that a company's policies or products are environmentally friendly.-Usage:...

ing.

In contrast, "dark greens" believe that environmental problems are an inherent part of industrialized capitalism
Capitalism
Capitalism is an economic system that became dominant in the Western world following the demise of feudalism. There is no consensus on the precise definition nor on how the term should be used as a historical category...

, and seek radical political change
Political radicalism
The term political radicalism denotes political principles focused on altering social structures through revolutionary means and changing value systems in fundamental ways...

. Dark greens believe that dominant political ideologies (sometimes referred to as industrialism) are corrupt and inevitably lead to consumerism
Consumerism
Consumerism is a social and economic order that is based on the systematic creation and fostering of a desire to purchase goods and services in ever greater amounts. The term is often associated with criticisms of consumption starting with Thorstein Veblen...

, alienation
Social alienation
The term social alienation has many discipline-specific uses; Roberts notes how even within the social sciences, it “is used to refer both to a personal psychological state and to a type of social relationship”...

 from nature and resource depletion
Resource depletion
Resource depletion is an economic term referring to the exhaustion of raw materials within a region. Resources are commonly divided between renewable resources and non-renewable resources...

. Dark greens claim that this is caused by the emphasis on economic growth
Economic growth
In economics, economic growth is defined as the increasing capacity of the economy to satisfy the wants of goods and services of the members of society. Economic growth is enabled by increases in productivity, which lowers the inputs for a given amount of output. Lowered costs increase demand...

 that exists within all existing ideologies, a tendency referred to as "growth mania". The dark green brand of environmentalism is associated with ideas of deep ecology
Deep ecology
Deep ecology is a contemporary ecological philosophy that recognizes an inherent worth of all living beings, regardless of their instrumental utility to human needs. The philosophy emphasizes the interdependence of organisms within ecosystems and that of ecosystems with each other within the...

, post-materialism
Post-materialism
The concept of post-materialism is a tool in developing an understanding of modern culture. It can be considered in reference of three distinct concepts of materialism...

, holism
Holism
Holism is the idea that all the properties of a given system cannot be determined or explained by its component parts alone...

, the Gaia hypothesis
Gaia hypothesis
The Gaia hypothesis, also known as Gaia theory or Gaia principle, proposes that all organisms and their inorganic surroundings on Earth are closely integrated to form a single and self-regulating complex system, maintaining the conditions for life on the planet.The scientific investigation of the...

 of James Lovelock
James Lovelock
James Lovelock, CH, CBE, FRS is an independent scientist, environmentalist and futurologist who lives in Devon, England. He is best known for proposing the Gaia hypothesis, which postulates that the biosphere is a self-regulating entity with the capacity to keep our planet healthy by controlling...

 and the work of Fritjof Capra
Fritjof Capra
Fritjof Capra is an Austrian-born American physicist. He is a founding director of the Center for Ecoliteracy in Berkeley, California, and is on the faculty of Schumacher College....

 as well as support for a reduction in human numbers
Overpopulation
Overpopulation is a condition where an organism's numbers exceed the carrying capacity of its habitat. The term often refers to the relationship between the human population and its environment, the Earth...

 and/or a relinquishment of technology
Anarcho-primitivism
Anarcho-primitivism is an anarchist critique of the origins and progress of civilization. According to anarcho-primitivism, the shift from hunter-gatherer to agricultural subsistence gave rise to social stratification, coercion, and alienation...

 to reduce humanity's impact on the biosphere
Biosphere
The biosphere is the global sum of all ecosystems. It can also be called the zone of life on Earth, a closed and self-regulating system...

.

More recently, "bright greens" emerged as a group of environmentalists who believe that radical changes are needed in the economic and political operation of society in order to make it sustainable, but that better designs, new technologies and more widely distributed social innovations are the means to make those changes - and that society can neither shop nor protest its way to sustainability
Sustainability
Sustainability is the capacity to endure. For humans, sustainability is the long-term maintenance of well being, which has environmental, economic, and social dimensions, and encompasses the concept of union, an interdependent relationship and mutual responsible position with all living and non...

. As Ross Robertson writes, "[B]right green environmentalism is less about the problems and limitations we need to overcome than the “tools, models, and ideas” that already exist for overcoming them. It forgoes the bleakness of protest and dissent for the energizing confidence of constructive solutions."

International perspective


While bright green environmentalism is an intellectual current among North American environmentalists (with a number of businesses, blog
Blog
A blog is a type of website or part of a website supposed to be updated with new content from time to time. Blogs are usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in...

s, NGOs and even governments now explicitly calling themselves "bright green" - for instance, the City of Vancouver's strategic planning document is called "Vancouver 2020: A Bright Green Future"), it is in Northern Europe, especially Scandinavia, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, that the idea of bright green environmentalism has become most widespread and most widely discussed. For instance, the official technology showcase and business expo for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is an international environmental treaty produced at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development , informally known as the Earth Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro from June 3 to 14, 1992...

 in Copenhagen
Copenhagen
Copenhagen is the capital and largest city of Denmark, with an urban population of 1,199,224 and a metropolitan population of 1,930,260 . With the completion of the transnational Øresund Bridge in 2000, Copenhagen has become the centre of the increasingly integrating Øresund Region...

 is called Bright Green in reference to this idea, while the Danish youth climate activism movement is called Bright Green Youth.

Viridian Design


The Viridian Design Movement was an aesthetic movement focused on bright green environmentalist concepts. The name was chosen to refer to a shade of green
Viridian
Viridian is a blue-green pigment, a hydrated chromium oxide, of medium saturation and relatively dark in value. It is composed more of green than blue. Specifically, it is a dark shade of spring green, the color between green and cyan on the color wheel...

 that does not quite look natural, indicating that the movement was about innovative design and technology, in contrast with the "leaf green" of traditional environmentalism. The movement tied together environmental design
Environmental design
Environmental design is the process of addressing surrounding environmental parameters when devising plans, programs, policies, buildings, or products...

, techno-progressivism
Techno-progressivism
Techno-progressivism, technoprogressivism, tech-progressivism or techprogressivism is a stance of active support for the convergence of technological change and social change...

, and global citizenship
Global citizenship
Global citizenship applies the whole world to bring world peace and the concept of citizenship to a global level and is strongly connected with the concepts of globalization and cosmopolitanism. World citizenship is a term which can be distinguished from global citizenship, although some may merge...

. It was founded in 1998 by Bruce Sterling
Bruce Sterling
Michael Bruce Sterling is an American science fiction author, best known for his novels and his work on the Mirrorshades anthology, which helped define the cyberpunk genre.-Writings:...

, a postcyberpunk science fiction
Science fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

 author. Sterling always remained the central figure in the movement, with Alex Steffen
Alex Steffen
Alex Steffen is an American writer, editor, public speaker and futurist most noted for his bright green ideas.Steffen co-founded and ran the online magazine Worldchanging from its start in 2003 until its closure in 2010...

 perhaps the next best-known. Steffen, Jamais Cascio
Jamais Cascio
Jamais Cascio is a San Francisco Bay Area-based writer and ethical futurist specializing in design strategies and possible outcomes for future scenarios...

, and Jon Lebkowsky
Jon Lebkowsky
Jon Lebkowsky is an web consultant/developer, author and activist who was cofounder of FringeWare, Inc. . FringeWare, an early attempt at ecommerce and online community, published a popular "magalog" called FringeWare Review, and a literary zine edited by Lebkowsky called Unshaved Truths...

, along with some other frequent contributors to Sterling's Viridian notes, formed the Worldchanging
Worldchanging
Worldchanging is an American non-profit online magazine and blog about sustainability and social innovation. At 19/09/2011, it was taken over by Architecture for Humanity....

 blog. Sterling wrote the introduction to Worldchanging's book, which (according to Ross Robertson) is considered the definitive volume on bright green thinking. Sterling formally closed the Viridian movement in 2008, saying there was no need to continue its work now that bright green environmentalism had emerged.

See also


  • Biomimicry
    Biomimicry
    Biomimicry or biomimetics is the examination of nature, its models, systems, processes, and elements to emulate or take inspiration from in order to solve human problems. The term biomimicry and biomimetics come from the Greek words bios, meaning life, and mimesis, meaning to imitate...

  • Eco-innovation
    Eco-innovation
    Eco-innovation is a term used to describe products and processes that contribute to sustainable development. Eco-innovation is the commercial application of knowledge to elicit direct or indirect ecological improvements....

  • Ecological modernization
    Ecological modernization
    Ecological modernization is an optimistic school of thought in the social sciences that argues that the economy benefits from moves towards environmentalism...

  • Efficient energy use
    Efficient energy use
    Efficient energy use, sometimes simply called energy efficiency, is the goal of efforts to reduce the amount of energy required to provide products and services. For example, insulating a home allows a building to use less heating and cooling energy to achieve and maintain a comfortable temperature...

  • Renewable energy commercialization
    Renewable energy commercialization
    Renewable energy commercialization involves the deployment of three generations of renewable energy technologies dating back more than 100 years. First-generation technologies, which are already mature and economically competitive, include biomass, hydroelectricity, geothermal power and heat...

  • Technogaianism
    Technogaianism
    Technogaianism is a bright green environmentalist stance of active support for the research, development and use of emerging and future technologies to help restore Earth's environment...


External links