Editor’s note: WRAL Local Tech Wire has added another feature with the launch of the "Innovation Exchange." Noah Garrett, former executive director of communications for the North Carolina Technology Association, is a creative spirit, from writing music to news stories, who recently launched his own communications consulting firm. The focus of the Innovation Exchange is just that – creating a Web community through which people can exchange ideas and foster creativity.

Participate in the Exchange. Send ideas and feedback to: noah@thinkngc.com

It isn’t breaking news that "going green" has hit the mainstream – "green" is the new "black" right? But, have misconceptions about environmentalism jaded our consuming culture so much that we aren’t really sure if we actually are doing our part? Or, if we fight back against environmental tyranny, do we sound selfish?

With Earth Day coming up on Tuesday, April 22, and other pressing news discussed later in this post, I felt compelled to address this topic this week – although it touches very little on technology. Earth Day Founder Gaylord Nelson believed that education is the key to changing people’s attitudes about the environment. So, I’m here this week to educate you on environmentalism gone wrong.

One definition of environmentalism is to preserve nature by having it remain untouched by humans. Whenever there is a conflict between the goals of preserving nature and pursuing human value, many environmentalists side with nature against man.

Now, before any hippies heave a Birkenstock at this post, think about it.

If tapping Arctic oil reserves to supply our energy needs might affect the well-being of the caribou, environmentalists demand that we leave vast tracts of the frozen tundra completely untouched. A similar case is happening right now on the Outer Banks.

Last fall, the National Audubon Society, Defenders of Wildlife and the Southern Environmental Law Center filed suit in federal district court against the National Park Service to limit or ban vehicular/pedestrian access to many of the primary areas of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, including Oregon Inlet, Cape Point, most of Ocracoke and others. The U.S. Department of Justice declined to contest the lawsuit last month, which could mean that beach access will be closed if the courts approve this injunction.

N.C. Senate Pres. Pro Tem Marc Basnight (D-Dare) wrote a letter last month to the entire North Carolina congressional delegation urging officials to prevent this from succeeding. He wrote: "This current lawsuit, driven by out-of-state environmental groups whose agenda is clearly to ban access to the beaches, would have devastating effects on the very families who have treasured and protected this resource for generations. The residents, visitors, property owners and business owners on Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands will face very real and very significant harm should this lawsuit succeed."

I’m all in favor of protecting the coastal environment as well as the animals and birds that call it home, but I’m also a fan of protecting tradition and financial stability. I was a longtime resident on the Outer Banks, and the success of this lawsuit will have a crushing effect on the area’s culture, business, tourism, home values and the economy as a whole.

The goal of preserving nature unavoidably conflicts with the requirements of human life. Our basic means of survival is to take the raw materials the environment provides and use them, which can be done in an eco-friendly manner and without harm. However, this does require "touching" nature. Organic crops require land, water and energy. Hybrid cars are built of metal, plastic and glass and use fuel. All human activity, on whatever scale, violates the environmentalist belief to "leave nature alone."

Earth Day is a time to celebrate the gains we have made as a society and create new visions to accelerate environmental progress. Earth Day is a time to unite around new actions and to protect our planet.

More than ever before, consumers are buying into environmentalist ideology and products that purportedly have less of an impact on nature. Anyone who thinks that it’s easy being "green" and that our current "eco-fad" is consistent with the principles of true environmentalism better think a little more about going too far when "going green."

I welcome any and all feedback. Happy Earth Day!