Feb 15, 2019

The ‘green’ free market

Climate change, greenhouse gasses, green energy — all terms are very familiar to us these days. The question is, do product manufacturers actually care about the green movement or are most of them boarding the green train because there is money to be made by producing a green product?

I don’t doubt that some companies do make an effort to be green, but I believe most companies understand that most consumers are concerned with saving money than buying a green product. I don’t see too many people at a store looking for a little green leaf on a label — they are looking at price tags.

I really don’t think a majority of Americans are buying into the whole green movement anyway, and the majority won’t unless they see some blatantly conclusive proof that there is a global climate crisis that will affect them within their lifetime.  With our current financial struggles, the only way to get Americans to buy in is to stress the areas where going green saves money.

Solar power is a perfect example of the American mentality toward the green movement. If solar power for a household was much less expensive, a massive majority of Americans would jump on the opportunity because they hate power bills. The fact that it’s environmentally friendly is a second thought for most.

Fortunately, in some cases, creating a green product can be a win-win situation for producers and consumers. Producers are beginning to use less material in products, which in some cases is a good thing.

Take plastic water bottles, for example. Producers are using less plastic and using more recycled material than ever. That makes production costs decline, which trickles down to consumers who pay less for the product, all good things.

One thing I have a serious beef with is hybrid cars such as the Prius. This car has become a status symbol, saying, in effect, “I care about the environment so much that I’m willing to drive a hideous car.”

Jay Leno said it best referring to the Prius: “In America, we like everyone to know about the good work we are doing anonymously.”

The problem with the Prius and other hybrid electric cars is that they are marketed as  green vehicles, but that could be far from the truth. Some reports show that between the environmentally hazardous production of batteries in North America, shipment of those batteries to Asia for assembly, then shipment to the final destination, a Prius has created more pollution than a normal vehicle in two lifetimes. Not to mention the hazard related to disposing of the massive batteries in electric cars.

I don’t understand why there isn’t a bigger push for hydrogen-powered cars that are already in production. These are the only truly zero-emission vehicles around today. They still use electric motors, but that motor is powered by a hydrogen fuel cell rather than batteries and the only emission from the vehicle is water.

If there is an expectation of citizens to be green then there will have to be more affordable options. I’m beginning to believe that the entire green movement is more about a lot of people making a lot of money than it is about some supposed global crisis. If we are legitimately looking down the gun barrel toward the “end of our planet,” I think people would be trying a lot harder.

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