Energy-efficiency caught on as businesses saw the feasibility of capturing the consequent profit stream by reducing losses & waste. Reduction of their carbon footprint followed into sustainable business practice. Groups prominent as leaders of blue-green thought and practice include organic food producers, waste recyclers, biodynamic farmers, permaculturists, community & home gardeners, green-tech inventors, green-building designers. Their global spread has been increasingly evident since the 1980s.
Whereas traditional conservation reserved forests, mountains and wetlands as public domains, when environmentalism emerged in the '60s as a focus for activism it was due to the increasingly evident harm being done to nature by both businesses and governments. Environmentalist and conservationist groups were explicitly apolitical because both presumed that working with governments of the left and right would produce suitable protective legislation. This flawed assumption was exposed by escalating environmental pollution and ecosystem destruction during the '70s. By the '80s the addiction of the political left & right to economic growth policies had turned business and government into a global problem, so green political parties emerged globally as the solution.
The Green Party in this country decided to align with the left in parliament (for my part initiating this see http://www.alternativeaotearoa.org/get-this/green-politics-an-integral-frame). Leading environmentalists were aligned with the right – they established the Progressive Greens to compete for the green vote but got merely 0.25% of the vote in the 1996 election. They subsequently found a home as the bluegreen faction in the National Party (http://bluegreens.org.nz/november-2014/). Perusal of the 5 primary pages of their website establishes in the minds of unbiased observers their considerable track record of success. Such accomplishments prove they are a natural complement to the red-greens – who suffer the disadvantage of being unable to point to as many similar results of their own.
Is the bluegreen political brand here really synonymous with blue-green thought and practice? No. As already specified, there's so much more to the latter than the mere conservationist/environmentalist stance presented by the Nat faction. Their strength lies in their credentials as political representatives of the original green movement of this country. Protecting natural habitats, ecosystems & biodiversity is genuinely green, but they marry it to business as usual! This hybrid ethic is too artificial a construct to convince anyone who wants a sustainable economy. Growth addiction has never been sustainable and never will be.
In 1968 I read a two-page spread describing the poisoning of the land by agribusiness in the USA (in the University of Auckland students' newspaper) and it was like the bell of doom tolled in my head. I couldn't shake the ominous feeling for long after. The back-to-the-land movement went global that year, largely due to hippies being alienated from the robotic mainstream & the political/industrial establishment. The Whole Earth Catalogue commenced publication simultaneously and became the cultural spearhead of the movement: it was seminal blue-green thought and practice. Know-how, can do.
Eco Barons (E. Humes 2009) describes how a number of very wealthy folk are using their money & organising skills to assist the green movement and protect ecosystems in various places. Another blue-green trend is microfinance: an avatar of this method of lifting the poor out of poverty is the founder of the Grameen Bank who was awarded the Nobel peace prize for creating that enormously successful collaborative enterprise. It is an excellent example of how lateral thinking in a traditional blue sphere of operation can produce designs and social systems with outcomes normally viewed as socialist in nature.
CNN suddenly started featuring green news stories around 1994 - apparently owner Ted Turner being influenced in that direction by his new wife Jane Fonda. Since then there's been an ever-increasing stream of stories about green issues in the global media, many being good news developments. The world seems to be going green big-time now! Often ground-breaking inventions, clever designs & technical innovations & improvements feature in these media stories - clear evidence that blue-green enterprise is at the cutting edge of social progress. Sometimes the green brand is mentioned in the story, other times it is left tacit despite the green progress being evident in the content - almost as if the brand has become too normal and accepted to warrant inclusion as cultural identifier. Those originating and driving these processes may not self-identify with the blue-green ethic, but it is clearly motivating their collective endeavour.
Perceptive observers of culture and social commentators will be able to see that this dynamic global cultural trend originates from blue-green attitudes, values and priorities. The political question then becomes: who represents these drivers of the progress of civilisation in the political process? Us or the Nats? In western countries generally, will these green entrepreneurs accept being claimed by the right as exemplars of sustainable growth? Will the embrace of parasitic capitalism cause them to dissociate in revulsion? The left always claim to be progressive instead of actually making progress - so they can't represent sustainable business. Are the Greens now too contaminated by leftist thought? Unable to give credit where it's due and acknowledge the dramatic advances arising from blue-green enterprise?
Anyone musing upon the current situation will be liable to wonder why we are not doing so. Perception that leftist ideology renders us irrelevant may spread. A Green Party good at talking the right talk is in real danger of political impotence if the perception spreads that it is not associated with those who are walking the right walk. Our leftist parliamentary alignment has resulted in an effective red-green hegemony dictating our political positioning - and red-green thought remains averse to enterprise.
After the election Gareth Morgan wrote a rationale for why this country needs a blue-green political party – the primary reason he identified was the congenital refusal of the Green Party to abandon its leftist parliamentary alignment (http://garethsworld.com/blog/environment/time-bluegreen-party/). He also researched climate science before co-authoring his book about global warming. Rare to find a capitalist with so much street-cred, huh? I even bought my own copy after reading it as a library book because he did such a good job. A physics graduate once upon a time, I handle the alarmist/denier interface by reading both sides & developing an integral overview. He did too. So he's blue-green in both belief & practice, but he's also proved he has an open mind and examines the merits of both sides of contentious issues.
Lucy Lawless was interviewed on the tv news regarding his call for a blue-green political party & she said she agreed that there's a need for one - a year after she showed up on the tv news sitting next to Russel Norman at the Green Party annual conference. My take therefore is that they are giving voice to a sector of public opinion. So here's the crucial question: have the Nats successfully captured much of the green vote?
James Shaw told us recently that post-election polling revealed 28% of voters had considered voting green. Since the final green vote was nearly 11%, 39% of the electorate have now self-identified as potential green voters!! Labour's final vote was bedrock (22%) so we have little reason to assume many went there. Comparison of campaign polls with the election result suggests 3% switched to NZFirst. That leaves 25%. Most of these folk must have voted National!
So the size of the blue-green vote is now over 20%. John Key's a smart enough dude and may have already figured this out! Best way for him to ensure he gets a fourth term as PM is to tell Nick Smith to follow Gareth Morgan's advice: a support party that takes around 20% of the vote means he need not rely on United Future, the Conservatives & the Maori Party. The electorate would then see those parties as irrelevant: most of their voters would go back to National (Maoris to Labour).
As soon as political scientists & journalists deduce that the combined green vote has escalated over 30% they will initiate polling to prove that this is so. The pressure on John Key to eject the Bluegreens from the National Party mothership & send it out to hoover up half the green vote will mount inexorably via media discussion of the scenario. Green voters will then reflect on the traditional leftist growth addiction and the reluctance of our red-greens to endorse collaborative enterprise & sustainable business. Given two green parties to choose between, they are liable to favour the one that has established a better track record of generating genuine green progress. Inclusion of minorities is the essential political principle! Our party will become authentic when it represents all three subtribes in the green movement: green, red-green & blue-green. Only by endorsing the minority rights of the blue-greens as a subtribe of the global green movement can the red-greens regain credibility. The Green Party needs to start representing all green voters, not merely half of them! An integral frame for green politics is the key to our future.
Dennis Frank, 10/4/15