The Beige Report: A ‘Green’ Noah’s Ark. Really.


Green. Recently, the mere mention of the word has started to make me cringe. In an attempt to market a multifaceted issue – climate change, ocean acidification, forest degradation, pollution, food politics – we’ve oversimplified. Scratch that. We’ve lost our collective heads. We’ve turned a complex web of questions and possible answers into something as simple as a preschooler’s crayon selection.

So when the words “religious amusement park” and “green” show up in the same sentence, I flinch. Have you heard about this? A 160-acre Christian-themed park called The Ark Encounter is being planned for lucky Northern Kentucky. According to the website, “In an entertaining, educational, and immersive way, it presents a number of historical events centered on a full-size, all-wood Ark, which should become the largest timber-frame structure in the USA.”

Historical. Okay. Let’s take a look.

The park is the brainchild of Answers in Genesis, the same group that’s responsible for the Creation Musuem in Petersberg, KY. Science is a guiding force when it comes to dealing with environmental issues, so it elicits some serious questions when the same group that denies one of the most well-supported theories of science attempts to jump on the green bandwagon. (And you thought the hybrid Chevy Tahoe was complex logical ground.)

Yes, they’ll be using solar, geothermal, wind and water technologies in the park’s mechanical systems, but what environmental message are we sending to our children when they have to visit a 160-acre amusement park to get it? Caged animals that are trained to perform in a live show? Wasteful amusement park concessions?

It’s a monument to irony. Remember, those who rail against the most basic (and verifiable) tenets of evolution, climate science and the earth’s age will frequently cite the story of Noah’s Ark as Exhibit A.

The questions go on and on.

Talking about the environment and our impact on it is of the utmost importance, and we must package the discussion in a way that’s approachable to all, but not at the current cost. It’s become too easy to slap the word “green” onto any product or project and immediately fall into a marketing world that has quickly come to mean very little.

Those $150 million dollars could be better used to protect natural habitats and support environmental education classes that actually take children out into the woods and encourage them to explore their natural surroundings, rather than play Noah’s little first mate in a real life version of a legendary story. Inspire children to pursue the kind of careers that will make positive change and hopefully build a future where we live more in balance with the environment.

Are we being Grinch to everyone’s green and calling in the fun police? Perhaps. I’m sure a 160-acre complex can be all kinds of entertaining – but there’s a long list of things those 160 acres could be used for that might better promote a truly “green” calling. With respect to individual beliefs, and acknowledgment of the value of religious story traditions for community, we’re calling Beige.

– with additional reporting by Sara Ost

Editor’s note: The Beige Report features news and products of green gone wrong. If green is to grow up and go mainstream, it cannot be coddled nor supported uncritically. We owe it to ourselves and our future generations to insist upon good standards and good products in green. If you disagree, we’d love to hear why.

Anna Brones

Anna Brones is a food + travel writer with a love for coffee and bikes. She is the author of The Culinary Cyclist and Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break. Catch her weekly column, Foodie Underground.