Green Illusions: The Dirty Secrets of Clean Energy and the Future of Environmentalism

By Ozzie Zehner | Go to book overview
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8. The Alternative-Energy Fetish

The society which rests on modern industry is
not accidentally or superficially spectacular, it is
fundamentally spectaclist.—Guy Debord, Society
of the Spectacle

Perhaps it’s all too easy for us to miss the limitations of alternative energy as we drop to our knees at the foot of the clean energy spectacle, gasping in rapture. The spectacle has become a divine deity around which duty-bound citizens gravitate to chant objectives without always reflecting upon fundamental goals. This oracle conveys a ready-made creed of ideals, objectives, and concepts that are convenient to recite. And so these handy notions inevitably become the content of environmental discourse. In a process of self-fashioning, environmentalists offer their arms to the productivist tattoo artist to embroider wind, solar, and biofuels into the subcutaneous flesh of the movement. These novelties come to define what it means to be an environmentalist.1

Environmentalists aren’t the only ones lining up for ink.

Peer pressure is a formidable power, and there’s no reason to assume that rational adults

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