Key concepts: Viridian action, dissidence, defection, Viridian Ranking

Attention Conservation Notice: it's about worthy actions with moral gravity. Also includes Viridian Ranking System.

Viridian Individual Projects:


Richard Puchalsky writes:
"If people want to buy green electric power, they have to know which utilities are green. So I made a Web tool that estimates personal CO2 generation, and shows you what sources of power each electric utility uses. A more-or- less working prototype with no graphics and a goofy name is at:
I hope Viridian volunteers will pitch in and help me improve this design."

From:**** (Reid Harward) Reid Harward writes:
"At Tygart River Pottery, we've been making lamps from translucent porcelain tile and backlighting them with compact fluorescents."

A correspondent, having read the Viridian Manifesto in the recent Whole Earth Review, implores in email: "I believe you. Tell me what to do."

That's a reasonable request, and a proper topic for the one-hundredth Viridian Note.

As Viridians, we should suit our ends to our means.
Otherwise, we are duplicating efforts better invested elsewhere. We're not a political party, a corporation, a mass movement or a lobby, and we shouldn't pretend that we are.

There are three basic activities we Viridians can fruitfully pursue: we can create new concepts, we can spread ideas, and we can be a moral force by example.
Being small and diffuse is a tactical advantage for those three activities. We can never expect to rule the planet by Papal decree, but we're by no means without potential influence. Small diffuse groups get quite a lot done in the world.

If we Viridians successfully affect the course of events, it won't be by lobbying, staging elections, shipping products, or passing laws. It'll be by making a new world seem plausible, by becoming early adapters, and by the Vaclav Havel method of publicly "living in truth."

Becoming an effective early adapter means finding new things and processes, and making them modish. It's about cause celebres, theatricality, publicity stunts, and hype.
Creating buzz is something at which we Viridians should excel. Besides, it's fun.

But there's more to genuine resistance than a talking-shop, just like there's more to buzz than mere marketing. We Viridians must visibly dissent from the system that oppresses us. This is where we achieve some moral gravity.

The system that oppresses us doesn't much care about street theater. The oil and coal industries have legendarily bad public relations. Nobody trusts them.

Nobody likes them. Their public pronunciamentos have zero credibility. Even the warmest and cuddliest oil companies == like Royal Dutch Shell, who are Dutch, for heaven's sake == have a public rep as suborners of governments and reckless poisoners of the North Sea. Carbon moguls like Saddam Husseim and Moammar Qaddafi are ritually denounced as terrorists and tyrants, but the world still lines their pockets, because they have oil.

The carbon industry stays alive because of its revenue stream. The standard Green response to carbon companies has been (a) bitching about them and (b) struggling to create bureaucracies big enough to regulate them. If we Viridians try that, we are (a) venting rage mostly for our own satisfaction and (b) totally out of our league.

As Viridians, we must defect. We must free ourselves from the carbon nomenklatura, and live as public dissidents.

Stop paying them. That is the way to walk the Viridian talk.

As long as you pay them, you are a collaborator, no matter how much you complain, or how much email you read.

In 1999, publicly bitching about oil companies is like some Moscow drunk in the Brezhnev era telling witty political jokes. Yeah, you're boosting your own morale somewhat. But you're still chugging away at the bottle.

They know that they're ugly. They know about black lung, strip mining, acid rain, mercury deposition, global warming, all of that. They employ thousands of trained, highly literate engineers; they don't need any technical hand-holding. They justify their activities because they consider themselves irreplaceable.

So a true Viridian must strive to become a living counterexample. This way of life entails some risk and expense, and is not for everybody == at least, not yet.

In many parts of the world, it's not even remotely feasible. In many places, the government and the carbon industries work hand in glove to deny you any choice in the power that sustains your daily life. But that is our moral and practical goal: step away from that belching smokestack, and build something better.

There are two ways to carry this out: the rich way, and the poor way. I'll start with the poor way, even though I know full well that everyone on this list has a computer.

Nobody really believes they are "rich." Even Bill Gates doesn't feel "rich;" Bill Gates feels like a driven, legally persecuted workaholic. If that's your own personal story, I'm simpatico, I'm with that program.

Poor guy, you're so poor; you can't afford jazzy solar power and pricey, semi -functional windmills.

Great. Then save money. Cut your carbon consumption, and fill your own wallet at the carbon industry's expense.

Insulate your house, assuming you're able to afford one. Weather-strip the windows, no matter where you live.
Buy compact-fluorescent everything. Wash your clothes in cold water == heating water soaks up more energy than almost anything you do, except long commutes. Buy a smaller, cheaper car, and a bicycle. Better yet, move closer to your work. Or telecommute. These are the effective anticarbon tactics, because they are permanent things that you do once and forget about.

The crucial point is == give the carbon industry less of your money! Affecting technological development by buying cutting-edge supergizmos may be something of a rich guy's game. But there's no such thing as not being able to afford to spend less of your money.

Then there's the rich guy's method, which, given that we Viridians are mostly G-7, technically educated, literate, New Economy types, is frankly much more our Viridian native speed. The goal here is to create and consume clean power. Forget saving power. You are rich.
If you are a Viridian with money, then SPEND MORE MONEY and BUY CLEAN PRODUCTS AND SERVICES. Above all, buy clean power, because that is where the technical change is happening fastest, and where early adapters can really push the development curve. Green power for the consumer is moving faster than anybody expected, and we should push it hard.

Sign up for, or whoever it may be in your locale. Once you've switched over to green power, then use as much green power as you care to. Live a loud, public life that is brilliant, refulgent, powerful, expensive and clean. It is much more important to lavishly build the new clean energy infrastructure, than it is to carefully conserve the old dirty one.

There are Green people around who will be shocked by this counsel of mine. They will tell you that you should always conserve energy, even if it's clean energy.
Supposedly, there will be more clean power to go around for everyone, that way. They'll tell you that good people should never be greedy; they should always strive to live lightly on the earth. From their perspective, the wisest social choice would be voluntarily joining the many millions of people around the world who have no electrical power now, and are never going to get any. People with that attitude are Green, but they are not Viridian Green.

Viridians will always struggle to render a bad technology obsolete, rather than humbly adapting our lives to its inherent design failures. We're not "rejecting" technologies, we are making firm aesthetic judgements about them and aiming to kill them where they stand. We fully expect to outlive the carbon industry, and to dance on its grave. So forget living outside capitalism on the Amish goat farm. Instead, pull the money out, and put the money somewhere else.

Viridians are not a mass movement. We Viridians don't have to worry about what the world would be like if everybody did as we do. That's not a moral problem for us. Because that is not going to happen; it's like expecting everyone in the world to become a Surrealist.

Sure, once Greenhouse alarmism spreads, mainstream society will discover the miraculous solution of investing in clean power across the board. "Shocking! Amazing! To think it was that easy!" But by the time that happens, we Viridians will be bored with the whole issue, been there done that. We'll doing other things far less predictable.

If everybody on this list bought green energy, we could cost the carbon industry a two-million-dollar-per- year revenue hit. That would be lovely. But laudable as that would be, that's not our central point. Our point as a group is to create and spread a cultural sensibility. So at this point in time, we Viridians should be theatrically staging public defections from the carbon regime. That is Viridian propaganda by the deed.

So that's it. That is the Viridian beau ideal. Jump the tall electric fence that surrounds those dirty smut merchants, and when you get on the far side, be sure to jump up and down and wave. If you want me to tell you what to do, well, that is what you should do. It is the Way of Our People.

There's one more small thing. I have a house with a brand-new three-kilowatt solar unit, freshly installed on top of it. I've got my camera and scanner ready, and in future Viridian Notes, you can expect to witness me leading the war on carbon from the front of the battlefield. And if you think I'm crowing now, wait till you hear me crow when I actually get this wacky gizmo to work.

And now, a long-expected Viridian tradition:


The Viridian Ranking System has been hand-created with a vintage fountain pen and fine art paper.
Scars, flaws, and imperfections add character and are an inherent part of the product.




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