Bright Green Lies exposes the hypocrisy and bankruptcy of leading environmental groups and their most prominent cheerleaders. The best-known environmentalists are not in the business of speaking truth, or even holding up rational solutions to blunt the impending ecocide, but instead indulge in a mendacious and self-serving delusion that provides comfort at the expense of reality. They fail to state the obvious: We cannot continue to wallow in hedonistic consumption and industrial expansion and survive as a species.
The environmental debate, Derrick Jensen and his co-authors argue, has been distorted by hubris and the childish desire by those in industrialized nations to sustain the unsustainable. All debates about environmental policy need to begin with honouring and protecting, not the desires of the human species, but with the sanctity of the Earth itself. We refuse to ask the right questions because these questions expose a stark truth – we cannot continue to live as we are living. To do so is suicidal folly. ‘Tell me how you seek, and I will tell you what you are seeking,’ the German philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein said. This is the power of Bright Green Lies: It asks the questions most refuse to ask, and in that questioning, that seeking, uncovers profound truths we ignore at our peril.
Derrick Jensen is the acclaimed author of more than twenty-five books, including A Language Older Than Words, The Culture of Make Believe, and Endgame. Author, teacher, activist, small farmer, and leading voice of uncompromising dissent, he has been hailed as the philosopher-poet of the environmental movement. Writes Publishers Weekly, "Jensen paints on a huge canvas an emotionally compelling and devastating critique of the intellectual, psychological, emotional and social structure of Western culture."
His premise is as profound as it is persistent: industrial civilization is inherently unsustainable. It will always require violence to biotic and human communities. And it will create a culture where trauma is normalized, where living beings become objects, and where the only relationship left is one of domination.
Jensen weaves together history, philosophy, environmentalism, economics, literature and psychology to produce a powerful argument and a passionate call for action. He guides us toward concrete solutions by focusing on our most primal human desire: to live on a healthy earth overflowing with uncut forests, clean rivers, and thriving oceans that are not under the constant threat of being destroyed.
Jensen's writing has been described as "breaking and mending the reader's heart" (Publishers Weekly). He writes for The New York Times Magazine, Audubon, and The Sun, and has a regular column in Orion. He holds a degree in creative writing from Eastern Washington University, a degree in mineral engineering physics from the Colorado School of Mines, and has taught at Eastern Washington University and Pelican Bay State Prison. He has packed university auditoriums, conferences, and bookstores across the nation, stirring them with revolutionary spirit.
Lierre Keith is a writer, small farmer, and radical feminist activist. She is the author of six books including, The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability, which has been called "the most important ecological book of this generation." She is also coauthor, with Derrick Jensen and Aric McBay, of Deep Green Resistance: Strategy to Save the Planet. She's been arrested six times for acts of political resistance. She lives in northern California where she shares 20 acres with giant trees and giant dogs.
Max Wilbert is a writer, organizer, and wilderness guide. A third-generation dissident, he came of age in a family of anti-war and undoing racism activists in post-WTO Seattle. Max has been part of grassroots political work for nearly 20 years. He has been involved in fighting the Canadian "tar sands" megaproject and combating tar sands mining in Utah, in resisting industrial-scale water extraction and deforestation in Nevada, in advocating for the last remaining wild buffalo in Yellowstone, in solidarity work with indigenous communities in British Columbia, and in campaigns against police brutality and sexual violence.
Max serves on the Board of Directors of Deep Green Resistance and Fertile Ground Institute for Social and Ecological Justice. He co-founded the Pinyon-Juniper Alliance, a group dedicated to protecting forests in the Intermountain West. He is the editor-in-chief of the Deep Green Resistance News Service, and produces a podcast called The Green Flame.
Max's essays have been published in Earth Island Journal, Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, DGR News Service, and elsewhere, and have been translated into several languages. Bright Green Lies is Max's second book. His first book, an essay collection called We Choose to Speak, was released in 2018 in Germany by Babylon Apocalypse press as Voices of Resistance Vol. 2. He also wrote the introduction to a French-language translation of the Earth First! Direct Action Manual, published by Editions Libre in 2019. Max lives near Eugene, Oregon, where he is involved in a communal living project.
"This disturbing but very important book makes clear we must dig deeper than the normal solutions we are offered."
– Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia Works
"Bright Green Lies dismantles the illusion of 'green' technology in breathtaking, comprehensive detail, revealing a fantasy that must perish if there is to be any hope of preserving what remains of life on Earth. From solar panels to wind turbines, from LED light bulbs to electric cars, no green fantasy escapes Jensen, Keith, and Wilbert's revealing peak behind the green curtain. Bright Green Lies is a must-read for all who cherish life on Earth."
– Jeff Gibbs, writer, director, and producer of the film Planet of the Humans
"Bright Green Lies lays out in heartbreaking and sometimes disgusting detail the simple fact that to maintain the growth of techno-industrial civilization by replacing fossil fuels with solar panels, wind turbines, hydro-power, electric cars, and whatever other green machines we might construct still requires the continuing rape of Mother Earth and the poisoning of her water, air, soil, wildlife, and human populations. The authors tell us unequivocally: Green growth is a doomed enterprise, and there is no future for humankind living in harmony with nature in which we fail to recognize that unlimited economic and population growth on a finite planet is ecological suicide. Environmental groups that blithely refuse to question the industrial growth paradigm should be fearful of this book, as it exposes with a sword point their hypocrisies and falsehoods. I suggest they seek the immediate burning of all copies."
– Cristopher Ketcham, author of This Land: How Cowboys, Capitalism, and Corruption Are Ruining the American West
"Bright Green Lies is a tour de force. The authors expose many of the fallacies of mainstream environmentalism and economics. Their main thesis is that much of what passes for environmental concern today is geared primarily toward sustaining an unsustainable 'lifestyle.' Most so-called 'sustainable' practices are just a slower way to degrade the Earth's ecosystems. For years, I have been harping on the fact that society needs to do a full accounting of the real costs of our lifestyles. This book exposes much of what is missing in our flawed accounting system, and the genuine costs of this failure. I thought I knew a lot about the environmental impacts of the consumer society, but Jensen and his co-authors have shown me that I, like many people, only had a superficial appreciation of these costs. Bright Green Lies takes off where William Catton's book Overshoot: The Ecological Basis for Revolutionary Change left off and provides a stimulating roadmap of how to think about our environmental crisis. It makes a powerful case for what society needs to do to reevaluate its present an unsustainable pathway. Hopefully, Bright Green Lies will result in more thoughtful, insightful, and ultimately productive environmental activism."
– George Wuerthner, ecologist, wildlands activist, photographer, and author of 38 books, including Wildfire: A Century of Failed Forest Policy
"Bright Green Lies is a book I've been keenly awaiting, a book made of numbers, clear thinking, wit, and love. Bright Green Lies urges the protection of the natural world in all its sacred and manifest diversity. Arm yourself with the precision and honesty that this book fiercely inspires and demands; recognize that life itself is the sole bearer of effective solutions, that organic, ecological, elemental, and biomic life can indeed save the planet from catastrophe."
– Suprabha Seshan, rainforest conservationist at India's Gurukula Botanical Sanctuary
"Bright Green Lies is a much needed wakeup call if we are to avoid sleepwalking to extinction – joining 200 of our fellow creatures and relatives that are being driven to extinction per day by an extractivist, colonizing money machine that is lubricated by limitless greed, and guided by the mechanical mind of industrialism. This destructive machine is labelled 'civilization, ' and its violent and brutal imposition on indigenous cultures and communities is legitimized as the 'civilizing mission' for which exterminations of the rich cultural and biological diversity of the Earth is necessary for the linear, blind rush to progress. Religions change, extermination continues. But there are other ways: the ways of indigenous cultures to whom we must turn to learn how to walk lightly on the Earth."
– Dr. Vandana Shiva, founder of NAVDANYA and the Research Foundation for Science, Technology, and Ecology; author of Earth Democracy and Making Peace with the Earth
"Bright Green Lies is the book we've all been waiting for. Jensen and his co-authors explode the myth that we can somehow grow our way out of the mess that we've created by using 'renewable' energies to prop up the lie that endless growth is possible without continuing to destroy the planet and the life-support systems that it provides. May Bright Green Lies be the first step toward shifting us to a different future – one which doesn't continue to borrow from the future to give us an unlivable planet."
– Thomas Linzey, senior counsel for the Center for Democratic and Environmental Rights and co-founder of Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund