A Revised Green Dictionary

There was an old man who said, “Green

is the way to be favourably seen.

Use all the right words

for the nimbys and nerds

but change what they actually mean.”

Language has moved on since the American writer Ambrose Bierce published his Devil’s Dictionary over a hundred years ago. With his alternative definitions he shed new light on widely used words. For example:

Corporation: An ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility.

We now need an updated version for the 21st Century to cover environmental themes in a similar way. Here are a few suggestions:-

Amenity grass: 1. A space where people can have a meal or a drink without being bothered by insects. 2. Astroturf.

Arc (verb): To create a distorted and unnatural geometric shape.

Best and most versatile agricultural land: A type of soil that can be safely built over because not many people understand how valuable it is.

Biodiversity metric: A highly technical measurement, arbitrary and repeatedly revised, intended to baffle the public.

Biodiversity offsetting: Using empty promises to replicate elsewhere existing habitat that you want to destroy.

Ecosystem services: Unreciprocated uses of natural resources. 

Electric vehicle: A new type of congestion that might also cause power cuts.

Garden village: A reason to build new roads.

Green corridor: The space left between a major road and a warehouse.

Green infrastructure: Those few remaining fragments of greenery that have not been displaced by grey infrastructure.

Greenfield site: Land earmarked for priority development and requiring the construction of new major roads.

Mitigate: To minimise the need to avoid something damaging or risky.

Spine road: In the middle of a new residential area, a major link road needed to bypass a bypass.

Sustainability Appraisal: An enabling mechanism for Sustainable Development.

Sustainable development: Unrestricted economic growth.

Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS): Attempts to mimic natural processes and slow the run-off rates of water accelerated by inappropriate development.

Nigel Pearce