On the Pennsylvania Turnpike from Harrisburg to Philadelphia, I passed a billboard with lettering in fluorescent green that seemed to ooze and drip down the sign: nogreenslime.com.
I knew instantly they were talking about me and the thousands of committed citizens working to tell the truth about the “black slime” of the oil and gas industry and move our economy to a sustainable, greener future. According to the website, we are green “slime” because of the “propaganda, deliberate misinformation, distortion, and junk science” that is thrown out there to try to stop the growth of the oil and gas industry. The myths of energy independence, employment, tax windfalls, and the inadequacy of non-fossil-fuel energy sources are touted by the site.
According to the site, we are “community activists, national environmental groups, academics and biased public-interest organizations.” We are “advancing an agenda that will prevent your energy costs from going through the roof with the ridiculous idea that renewable sources can provide enough energy to meet your needs.” We have “deliberately implemented a deceiving and negative campaign about oil and natural gas development to paint a more favorable picture of expensive, inefficient renewable energy.”
Considering the billions of dollars raked in by the oil and gas industry, and the utter selflessness with which environmental activists give of their time, energy and personal finances, one wonders what the industry thinks is our primary motivation. The industry is obviously in it for the money. What are we in this fight for? If it was for money or fame, most of us would have gotten out long ago. The defamation and despair that comes with this battle is enough to make even the hardiest activist burn out. I can only speak for myself, but I do this work because it is a calling from God to do all that I can to protect my children’s - and all children’s - future from the ravages of fossil fuels on our economy, our most vulnerable citizens, and God’s Creation. When my future grandchildren look at the devastation of climate change and dispersed industrialization of fossil fuels and ask me, “What did you do?” I have to be able to look them in the eye and say, “Beloved, I did everything thing I could.” And if things turn around and we avoid the worst-case-scenario of global climate disaster and, by God’s grace, enter a truly Ecozoic Age that honors Earth and Earth’s children, I will be able to say to them, “Beloved, I did everything I could.”
And for this I am called “green slime.”
The choice of words is interesting. Slime feels icky and sticky. Green slime is used in kids’ t.v. game shows when the loser gets “slimed.” We are described as “slime peddlers” who “have tried to pitch new and easily refuted boogey-monster-style stories.” Boogies, snot, slime. The lowest of the low. The ickiest of the ick. It seems an ingenious way to sneeringly dismiss the environmental movement. The tactics are familiar – the group in power uses dehumanizing language to discredit and delegitimize the marginalized minority. It is also an indication that the movement has grown strong enough that a paid billboard on a PA highway is actually necessary to “debunk” the green slimers. Never mind that the fact that the real slime is leaking out of pipelines in Arkansas,
gushing out of fracked well sites,
and contaminating the waterways of our Earth.
But what the oil and gas industry is forgetting is the other kind of green slime that comes in the form of algae, kelp, seaweed and countless other forms of watery plant life. The vast variety of algae found the world over is capable to deriving energy from the sun and predates any form of plant or animal life found on land. It is from this primordial green ooze that all life arose and upon which all life still depends at one level or another. Though lowly and easily dismissed, green slime in the form of algae is a powerhouse that may yet become the primary source of fuel for our world http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Algae_fuel.
So to my friends in Shale Justice, Protecting Our Waters, Responsible Drilling Alliance, PennEnvironment, and the many other organizations vilified by the oil and gas industry on this and many more websites like it, I say: embrace your inner green slime! Continue to speak truth to power. Do not let them poison your spirit like so much biocide poured down the fracking drill hole meant to kill all microscopic life-forms that may gum up their works. Continue to grow and wrap yourselves around their machines like seaweed in their gasoline engine. Green slime? You betcha!