A few weeks ago, USA Today reported that the villain of the next James Bond movie will be an environmentalist by the name of Mr. Greene. For a Bond fan and concerned liberal, this was at first a cause for some ideological alarm.
In recent decades, far too many action heroes have acted as insidious popularizers of right-wing theories about science, torture, and the like--and I didn't want Bond to follow suit.
For example, Michael Crichton's State of Fear painted global warming as a hoax propagated by self-important "experts" (including TNR's own Michael Crowley!) and NGOs out to create business for themselves. And Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six painted environmentalists as WMD-armed fanatics who value pristine wilderness more than human life--not to mention Joel Surnow's influence on the Department of Homeland Security and Dale Brown's misogynistic fantasies about Hillary Clinton.
Under the radar, these writers have inculcated countless middle-aged men on airplanes and beaches with fantasies about "double-tapping" masked members of Greenpeace with hollowpoint slugs--shifting, I fear, their attitudes subtly and unquantifiably to the right. (I distinctly recall hearing a thirty-something San Francisco software engineer spouting the Crichton line on CO2!)
Luckily, news travels fast in the Bondosphere, and more details about Mr. Greene soon followed. It turns out Greene is not an environmentalist himself: he's a member of the nihilistic Quantum organization, posing as a dedicated tree hugger so he can trick wealthy environmentalists into supporting his evil scheme.
This presents a more complicated view of environmentalism, and, actually, a pretty shrewd one. Insofar as it says anything at all about the environment, it's a comment about the downside of the coming green boom.
As we try to create a "green" economic revolution--sponsoring carbon markets, green-collar job creation, and even a mass shift to nuclear power--opportunities for graft and misrepresentation will inevitably multiply, just as they would when you inject large scale industry into anything. We already see this problem with as we encounter fraudulent carbon offsets, the biofuels boondoggle, and "green" nuclear proliferation. The next Bond film seems to be highlighting that potential for mischief.
Also embedded in Mr. Greene's scheme is a shrewd social observation. Bond films have always fixated on luxury items--gold, diamonds, shark tanks--to dramatic and sinister effect. (An observer once remarked that reading Ian Fleming is like looking through a fashion catalogue.) By portraying Greene's environmental palace as a luxurious boondoggle meant to seduce the rich, Bond is highlighting how green items have--ironically--become a symbol of conspicuous consumption. We can only hope to see a thickly-accented Mathieu Amalric shouting "I love greeeeen!!!" as Bond is almost beheaded by a low-carbon laser.
Far from becoming an artifact of the dying Bush empire, our favorite spy seems to be looking forward and sounding a cautionary note about the future. Or, at least, that's what it seems like until the next piece of Bond gossip emerges.