How Big Green Lost Its Way

Biomass plant, Maygar, Oregon. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

“For too long, we failed to use the most important word when it comes to
meeting the climate crisis: jobs, jobs, jobs.”

– Joe Biden to Congress 4/28/2021

I had just begun reading Bright Green Lies when Biden made this ultimately Ecocidal statement.

If Bright Green Lies – How the Environmental Movement Lost Its Way and What We Can Do About It by Derrick Jensen, Lierre Kieth and Max Wilbert does anything, it obliterates this mindless pro-Endless Growth/“Jobs” nonsense!

The living planet and nonhumans both have the right to exist.”

Back in 2009, my pal, fellow Flintoid Jeff Gibbs and I were appalled by and delving deeply into Biomass energy – burning living Nature for Electrons and calling it “green.” Jeff, being a documentarian (Co-Producer of “Bowling for Columbine,” “Fahrenheit 9/11,” etc.) decided the issue needed a documentary and after a decade of research and countless hours put in by Jeff and his allies on the ever shifting issue, “Planet of the Humans” premiered to much acclaim from Biocentrists and much contentless abuse from Anthropocentrics.

Every now and then something comes out that is a game redefiner. First we had that 2019 premiere of “Planet of the Humans.” Now, other Biocentric environmentalists have been seriously looking into the rosy claims of the professional Big Greens (“Bright Greens” in the book and companion documentary), their Democratic Party allies, their Foundation Masters and “Renewable” Energy Industry entrepreneurs/producers.

“Bright Green Lies” has burst on the scene, picking right up where “Planet of the Humans” left off. And, being a full-length (472 pages) book. BGL delves deeply into those “Hows” and “Whats.” The Whats boil down to “…there are real solutions. Simply put, we have to stop destroying the planet and let natural life come back.”

“Growth for its own sake is the ideology of a cancer cell.” ~ Ed Abbey

The book starts off with a Preface and Prologue which define the issue as one in which the Bright Greens’ years of peddling Hopium/Endless Growth – telling everyone we can have our planet and eat it, too – has led us to an extinction crisis where in the last five decades (since that first Earth Day), “humans have killed 60 percent of the earth’s animals.”

The first chapter “The Problem” takes a deep look at all that has been lost and what causes it. Ancient Forests leveled, mountains blown up for minerals, mine poison pits, rivers choked with tar sands offal, industrial agriculture’s depletion of the soils and, of course, the “Climate Holocaust” caused by ever-increasing fossil fuel-derived atmospheric carbon pollution.

All technologies are political.” ~ Chellis Glendinning

The great Native poet/activist John Trudell used to talk of “tech-no-logic predators.” Right from the start, the “logical” links between Agriculture, Imperialism and Technology are well-examined in the book.

The Second Chapter “Solving for the Wrong Variable” nails the “How” part of the “Lost Way” equation. Numerous prominent professional environmentalists are quoted defining the issue in terms of its Impact on Civilization. Bill McKibben’s quote in his article “Civilization’s Last Chance” sums up the Big Green Anthropocentric view: ‘We’re losing the fight, badly and quickly – losing it because, MOST OF ALL, we remain in denial about the peril human civilization is in.”

A 2014 Declaration on Climate Change signed by “160 leading environmentalists from 44 countries” never mentions inviolate protection of the natural world. It places the issue as: global warming “threatens to cause the fabric of CIVILIZATION to crash.”

The German Renewables Myth

Getting that Bright Green baseline tenet – Industrial Civilization must be saved at the expense of Wild Nature – out right away, BGL then delves deeply into the correct variables. The next few chapters analyze/debunk Solar and Wind as the saviors of civilization. The Text Description automatically generatedtrue ecological costs of these technologies are revealed with lots of supporting citations and graphs, etc.

A substantial exposé of the ubiquitous Big Green/Media meme that “Renewables cover about 100% of German power use for first time ever” has been long overdue and BGL comes through. McKibben touted Munich, where “there were days this month they got half their energy from solar panels.”

This falsehood is repeated so often it has become Bright Green dogma. But, BGL notes that 80% of Munich’s energy consumption is not in the form of electricity. McKibben and the other usual suspects conflate one 2011 May Saturday (a non-work day) when, for two hours, Munich got 50% of its electricity from solar panels. Even if true for just electrical energy, this meme ignores the real world ecological impacts. The Bright Green entire argument boils down to solely citing economic impacts of the technology – (falsely).

The fact is: large swaths of the Southeast US, the Amazon, etc., grind up the trees, ship them to Europe where Germany (and other European nations) burn them for electrons. To add insult to injury, Germany et al. then get Carbon Credits and Bright Green praise for it!

Similar, detailed, foot-noted breakdowns of the same economic and ecological impacts of numerous other Bright Green-touted technologies follow, with Chapters on Wind, Energy Storage, Efficiency, Recycling, Green Cities, Hydropower, etc.

Lesser known Bright Green-promoted technologies also get analyzed. Geothermal, Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR), Tidal Energy and the also ubiquitous promises of Carbon Capture technology are proven false and deadly. The abomination of Geo-engineering gets a thorough debunking, as well.

The Bright Greens never address the indisputable need for drastically lowered First World Consumption – of everything. It’s all Consumption as Usual, only now we’ll power it all with “renewables.”

Real Solutions

A repeated talking point dodge of the Big Green/Renewable Industry used against “Planet of the Humans” was/is that the film doesn’t present any “Solutions.” Of course that was not the point of POTH. The same dodge was used against Jeff and Michael Moore over “Bowling for Columbine.” The intent of these premier documentarians in both cases was to present the issue and ask the right questions. And, to let the under-appreciated Public hive mind come to our own conclusions as to what solutions are doable/preferable/sustainable.

“Bright Green Lies,” however, does contain a detailed 30-page Chapter on “Real Solutions,” stating the case right off:

Industrial Civilization is incompatible with life on this planet. That makes the solution to our systemic planetary murder obvious, but let’s say it anyway: stop industrial civilization.”

Of course energy generation at the current scale, which is ever-increasing, is unsustainable. It is why 60% of animals have been lost in fifty years. Co-author Lierre Kieth states “and that’s but one wretched number among so many others.” Suffice to note, as BGL does, that not a single Bright Green technology ultimately helps the planet. BGL notes, “All of them destroy what’s left of the living.”

And, BGL notes that “The first real solution, then, is to lay down our denial and face reality full-on. Facing reality requires an avalanche of grief right now: We know what we are asking. But if you love this planet, it has to be done.”

After laying out substantial facts and the values crisis behind them, the authors spend the Solutions chapter not on some search for better technologies and certainly not with praise for the Green New Deal’s massive infrastructure proposals (Jensen mentions the energy infrastructure ecological abominations of the original New Deal – like Grand Coulee Dam). Insetad, they stick to analyses of how the healing all starts with one river, one forest, one wetlands, one desert…and set out examples of non-technological efforts that have much promise.

Civil Disobedience is also one major tool. Co-Author Max Wilbert has been camped out in Nevada working with Native peoples there to stop a gigantic habitat-destroying massive Lithium Mine (for electric vehicle batteries, etc.)

“Bright Green Lies” is an extremely important, well-researched and well-written book. BGL asks all the right questions and provides answers. How, and if, we Power Down and People Down and how we equitably share the planet with all living beings is the issue.

Will we Clever Apes respond correctly to this existential crisis or will we let Nature resolve it for us?

The First Through the Door Always Get Shot.” ~ Jeff Gibbs

I was grousing with Jeff about all the lame, hostile, lying, no content attacks he, of course, Michael Moore, Ozzie Zehner, I and other allies received after the premiere of POTH. Jeff and Michael have been through it all before. But, I was astonished. Legitimate content critiques were scarce, but there were a few.

Well, the door has been magnificently breached again. I sincerely hope that people will purchase and read “Bright Green Lies” and take in the companion documentary and deal with it rationally. It will be hard – that “avalanche of grief” is not a pleasant walk in an untouched ecosystem. Pie-in-the-Sky nonsense about fueling industrial civilization’s consuming of the planet with “renewables” is a literal dead end. We still have a chance and the authors have done a great service laying out the facts and the options. For anyone who cares about the planet, anyone who shares John Trudell’s “no more important nor less important” Gaian worldview –- “Bright Green Lies” is a must read.

MICHAEL DONNELLY has been an environmental activist since before that first Earth Day. He was in the thick of the Pacific Northwest Ancient Forest Campaign; garnering some collective victories and lamenting numerous defeats. He can be reached at