Any story with An Aesop with an environmental message which warns that unchecked pollution will either destroy the Earth or incur Mother Nature's wrath. Sometimes the message may incorporate Science Is Bad as well, though it is becoming more common to feature good scientists who encourage green technology and environmentally friendly lifestyles. Can be done with subtlety or done blatantly.
This was especially common in many kids' cartoons in the late 80's and early 90's with an integral lesson and is becoming more common in many other fictional works nowadays given recent concerns and controversies on environmental issues. Older examples tend to focus on pollution, newer ones on global warming, as the particular nature of society's environmental fears changes.
So-called because green tends to represent Nature in general and environmentalism in particular.
Almost unique for both the series and the trope in that it doesn't drop the proverbial anvil (a few exceptions exist here and there). Beyond the obvious demonizing of poachers and animal abusers, it really just provides an example of humanity gone right. Animal rights are rarely an issue (especially because The Dog Bites Back with a vengeance if you kick one too hard). It's rare that smog from vehicles is even seen despite the existence of personal automobiles and heavy air transport, the skies are perennially clear and blue even over the largest metropolises, and huge tracts of land go free of harm. Even when pollution is referenced (outside of the Koffing and Grimer families), it's never actually seen, or else is promptly cleaned up. And no one says a word. Because no one has to.
One example is Gringy City found in an early episode in the first season, whose air and water is so polluted from the extremely exaggerated number of factories most of which seem to exist only to pollute the air and water. The water is green and polluted with multiple Grimer and Muk (because of all the factories), the air is dark and filled with soot (because of all the factories), and there's no grassy area to speak of (because of all the factories). Misty and Brock then end the episode by telling Nurse Joy and Officer Jenny that the Sludge Pokemon are a good indication that they should probably clean the place up a little.
Another example is the early Diglett episode, in which Pokemon even refuse to come out of their Poke Balls to stop the Diglett. It turns out they already knew that the Diglett would be harmed by the dam construction, so shouldn't be stopped. It is also shown that the Diglett created the valley forests, and implied that they create ALL the forests in the world (even though we NEVER see any evidence of this outside this episode).
Occasionally, Team Rocket mentions that their contraptions are all environmentally friendly.
Well, considering that Cosmo is a Plant Alien, and so are the Metarex, that actually makes more sense than you'd think. Though, admittedly, they could probably have found a better episode to squeeze the Green Aesop into than the one where Cosmo dies.
In a way, it's actually almost an inversion of a Green Aesop, because the evil plan of the Metarex involves covering every inch of every planet in the galaxy with trees. Granted, this wouldn't be good for some environments either.
This also applies to several other of Shoji Kawamori's works.
For those who haven't heard of the aforementioned old-school series, Tokyo Mew Mew works just as well as "Captain Planet with magical girls". The Heart girl is the leader and Fire is swapped out for Light, but still.
X1999: The Earth is slowly dying due to humanity not hearing its cries, instead continueing with selfishness and polution, so a decision must be made in the form of 14 people duking it out: the 7 "Sky Dragons" (who are near-universially religious folk) representing the case for humanity that humans are best-suited to improve themselves and help the Earth vs the 7 "Earth Dragons" (who are near-universially represented by modern "evils" such as military, cloning and bureaucracy) who stand for the destruction of humanity including inevitably themselves so that Earth can start anew and heal itself. The leaders of the conflict are Kamui and Fuuma, two best friends who are fated to fight and kill one another and are usually portrayed by a Kamui with angel wings and a Kamui with devil wings crossing swords. Fun fact: the Kamui with angel wings is the one standing for humanity's destruction.
Understandable, as most of the people in Japan are Shinto, which is a religion that is heavily based on spirits in nature.
Every movie he does has at least one part in it to this effect, if it's not the entire focus of the plot. It just helps that the aesops are delivered with style and not dropped like an anvil on the audience. Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea showed how bad humans made the ocean in the beginning, making it seem like it'd be a major plot point. It wasn't, making it more of a Big Lipped Alligator Moment. Spirited Away has polluted rivers.
It's not just Miyazaki; Ghibli in general seems to like them. The main plot-line in Pom Poko is about the tanuki's attempts to deal with the destruction of their habitat.
Though directed by Takahata, Pompoko was originally written by Miyazaki himself.
Subverted by the end of the Nausicaa Manga series, when Nausicaa realizes that their own pure air is in fact the pollution created by the previous humans, and that the "clean air" created by first generation human's genetically engineered forest is not breathable to them for that reason
Spirited Away has hints of it, with the Muck Monster actually being a river god who was polluted with garbage and Haku being a river spirit whose river was drained and replaced with buildings.
Wolf's Rain. The environmental message isn't hard to spot.
An early episode of Transformers Super God Masterforce involved the Decepticons causing animals to stampede in Kenya so humans would kill them, leading to destabilisation of the balance of life on Earth, leading to their dark god becoming more powerful.
Corrector Yui has the character Eco, an extremist protector of nature who will hold people hostage or attempt to kill them for littering in a virtual national park. He mellows out once Yui sets him straight, but you can bet that the people he terrorized aren't going to litter anymore, whether it be on the internet or not.
Blue Seed ended up with something like this, although it was very well foreshadowed, right down to the fact that the Aragami themselves are essentially mutated plants. One particular episode had a character wondering what is the Japan they want to protect — i.e. if they want it in its present state, polluted and changed by humanity.
A filler episode in the first series of Sailor Moon featured a public park that was about to be bulldozed by an a construction company. The monster of the day possessed the park's caretaker, who was then granted the power of controlling animals and nature to protect the park. Which led to a scene in which the head of the construction company was attacked by squirrels. The caretaker eventually goes mad with the evil power and attacks anyone that sets foot in the park. The Senshi save the old guy and the park is spared demolition. The DiC English dub tacked an environmental Sailor Says segment onto the end.
Several of the story lines in the Oishinbo volume on Vegetables are about the impact of herbicides and pesticides on the quality of food in Japan.
The title character of The Law of Ueki has the power to recycling trash into Tree(s). And hate people who harming environment in general, the manga cleverly deliver moral message about how the trees are important.
Zatch Bell! slips a tricky one into the final arc; lack of regulation results in self-destruction. However, this is applied to all aspects of evolution; animals didn't regulate evolution, so they allowed humans to evolve. Humans didn't regulate their powers, so they invented world-crushing weapons. And demons? Demons allowed survival of the fittest, which creates a crazy-powerful psychopath. There isn't much room for regret, but the impact is there.
Early Universal Century shows (starting with Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam) often had this as a secondary message beyond the War Is Hell theme, usually with the Spacenoids (read: Zeon) claiming that the Earth's ecosystem is failing due to the greedy and corrupt Earth peoples. We don't see much evidence of this in the series itself though, other than mention of the Saharan Desert slowly expanding. (Although if the movie G-Savior is taken as canon, the Earth does ecologically fail and become uninhabitable, sometime around UC 200.)
Mobile Fighter G Gundam's environmental message is quite explicit, as the Gundam Fight that ended world wars has also completely trashed the environment due to Earth's use as a fighting ring. Scenery Gorn abounds, and two major villains want to destroy humanity to save the planet.
After War Gundam X has a two-episode arc about Saving the Dolphins. In this case, it's saving a Newtype dolphin and her pod from pirates tat harvest their brains for navicomputers.
The Chinese short animated film Miss Daizi promoted environmentalism with the protagonist suffering through a landfilled world, for ruining the environment despite admiring it in the past. It doesn't help that she is a plastic bag.
The Groo The Wanderer miniseries "Hell On Earth", in which Groo's usual well-intentioned idiocy, coupled with high political tensions, lead to both a war and a series of natural disasters caused by pollution.
Occurs often (sometimes to the point of annoyance) in Brazilian comic Monica's Gang.
Superman For Earth, a 1990s Earth Day comic printed entirely on recycled paper. Notable for not always having easy answers; when Superman takes all the garbage away, one of the people protesting the landfill thinks "But where will it go?"
The "Green Truth" issue of the W.I.T.C.H. comic. On Resurrection Day, where the Earth's voice is spoken once every 1,000 years, the girl's powers go haywire and make them try to hear the Earth. Yan Lin explains that if the girls don't answer by days end, the Earth will scream to be heard for eternity- resulting in major disasters. The girls use their magic to repair the pollution and destruction caused by people, only to fail each time. They soon realize that by "thinking green" (i.e conserving power, using less water, reducing the heating bill, recycling and not using cars) they have answered the Earth with their compassion for the preservation of the environment and the things in it. At days end, Mother Earth thanks Yan Lin for the girls listening to her and leaves for another 1,000 years.
Played with in Cars 2. Sir Miles Axelrod conducts the World Grand Prix to promote his new renewable organic fuel, Allinoil; subverted when it's revealed he's sabotaging it to discredit all alternative fuel sources and increase reliance on oil. Later played straight when Sarge reveals Lightning McQueen has been using Filmore's organic fuel all along because of their distrust of Axelrod and Big Oil.
Ironically Hexxus has become the most popular character from the movie. Spawning a WMG that he was made to keep the Assimilation Plot of the evil forest from taking over the world, having his Villain Song become (temporarily) the most popular on youtube (could just type in "Villain" and "Villain Song Toxic Love" would be the first named song suggested) and ascending to the TV Tropes Pantheon.
The Simpsons Movie uses Green Aesops in both straight and subverted form. The environmental efforts of ordinary people are presented as good, and Homer defiles a lake in Springfield in a spectacularly inexcusable way. On the other hand, there's also a subversion in that the main villain is a Knight Templar who works for the EPA and does much more damage to Springfield than any polluter could have.
Once Upon a Forest was a not-so-subtle green Aesop about the hazards of pollution and what it can do to poor cute little furry animals. The Humans Are Bastards tone of the film is only subverted once we see humans cleaning up after the chemical leak that killed the forest. (Which actually makes it more realistic than some other examples; as it shows that humans have the power to destroy nature...and begin to fix it.)
This is a main plotline in Rio 2, as protecting the rainforest is essential to protecting the Spix macaws.
Films — Live-Action
After Earth: Apparently, humans screwed Earth up so badly that every animal left evolved to be a perfect predator to them, even centuries after there aren't any humans left. According to the backstory, less than 1% of humanity managed to leave Earth before civilization collapsed. It's probably safe to assume that with a whole lot of sick, starving and/or freezing humans around without the protection of civilization, wildlife (evolving more rapidly than normal courtesy of the destroyed ozone layer/increased UV radiation) probably had several centuries' worth of humans to prey on.
The Andromeda Strain: In the A&E remake: "Don't mine deep sea volcanic vents because they might contain rare bacterium that will one day counteract an otherwise invincible super-plague."
Delivered a Green Aesop about respecting indigenous cultures and the environment:
Jake: They [the humans] killed their mother [mother nature]!
It is also a pretty severe Fantastic Aesop. After all, the Na'vi's planet has giant trees for them to live in, dragons to ride, trees that let you talk to dead people, and apparently no sickness (one character mentions that the Na'vi are not interested in the human's medicine).
On the other hand, it manages to avoid the Science Is Bad pitfall usually associated with simple Green Aesop stories. Scientists represent the best of humanity, who see the true value of Pandora in its forests that could be used to cure the sick Earth with various biomechanical means derived from the native plants, instead of hoarding the crude Unobtanium, the most obvious resource around. It's the Corrupt Corporate Executives who just want to make a big buck, and the General Ripper who seeks to demonize the natives, who are the actual villains of the story.
James Cameron even followed the movie with some environmental campaigns - to the point that the Avatar DVD includes "A Message from Pandora", which follows Cameron's visits to the Amazon and protests against a local dam which is yet to be built.
Global warming causes exploding, homicidal birds. In the sequel it also causes zombies and angry cavemen.
The Day After Tomorrow: The point of this film. The disaster is caused by global warming — but the disaster is an instant Ice Age. This is somewhat counter-intuitive. The movie wasn't wrong on that point; global warming really may cause a disruption in the climate (mostly ocean currents) that would lead to an Ice Age (the chances are astronomical and defy everything we know about previous climate cycles, but it is technically possible). It's worth noting that the The Day After Tomorrow that you've heard of is an Action oriented remake of a genuine (and more scientifically consistent) Green Aesop about global warming.
The Day The Earth Caught Fire (1961): Where the media suspect a cover-up of an End Of The World disaster, and they're right.
The Distinguished Gentleman: A con man goes to Congress, thinking that is where the real money is at. But when he meets a cancer victim whose cancer was caused by overhead power lines, he sets out to expose the corrupt Congressmen who are blocking legislation to remedy the problem.
The Gnome Mobile: An early example could be found in this 1967 Disney family film. Its message basically was, "Don't log in the redwood forests of the Pacific Northwest, because that area is home to dwarf-like humanoids who are just as intelligent and special as human beings" - making it also a Space Whale Aesop. That said, it was pretty funny seeing the grandfather gnome practically having a heart attack every time someone shouted "TIMBER!"
Godzilla: Apparently, this franchise in general. With a special mention to Godzilla vs. Hedorah, whose English dub version (Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster) had the Theme Tune "Save the Earth." The original is very good about this, being mostly a critique on the consequences (environmental and otherwise) of the use of the atomic bomb. It is not coincidental that the film's plot came to be so soon after the Lucky Dragon no. 5 incident, when a Japanese fishing trawler accidentally sailed into seas that were hit by fallout from the Castle Bravo A-bomb test - the fallout itself a fluke due to the scientists seriously underestimating the yield of the explosion. The opening scenes of the original Godzilla were directly intended to reference the fate of Lucky Dragon no. 5.
The Happening: In this M. Night Shyamalan film, the plants cause people to kill themselves. Which also makes it a Fantastic Aesop, with very little practical use: be kind to plants or they'll kill you! Also undermining the Aesop is the lack of anyone proposing simply killing the plants to prevent it from happening again, leaving the issue and its accompanying Fridge Logic unaddressed.
The Horse Boy: Which is about a boy's connection with nature.
Man of Steel: According to Jor-El, the core of Krypton became unstable because the Kryptonians depleted their planet's natural resources, and were forced to draw energy from the planet's core to keep their society going.
Pacific Rim: Passed over rather quickly; Geizler mentions that the Kaiju creators's initial attempt to take over the planet failed owing to a lack of compatibility with the atmosphere, but now that humans have sufficiently polluted our planet, it's ripe for a batshit insane monster takeover. Go figure.
The Return of Hanuman: Maruti/Hanuman saved a village from a monster formed from a volcano filled with inorganic trash. A female figure (probably the goddess of earth) thanked him afterwards.
Revolution 2012: Rob Stewart is trying to raise awareness about the environment in the hopes that that people will work to fix the damage.
Two Brothers: Ends with a message about the endangerment of tigers do to habitat destruction and hunting.
The East is about eco-terrorists. While the viewer isn't expected to support their methods, you are expected to support their cause for tighter control on industrial pollution and pharmaceutical oversight.
Who Killed The Electric Car?: Surprisingly downplayed. The film does discuss electric cars as a solution to air pollution and oil dependence, but its main focus is exploring the reasons for the dismantlement of electric cars such as the EV1 in the early 2000s using facts and not politics, and talks about how some "green" technologies like hydrogen are not really viable alternatives to gasoline.
In The Wolverine, our hero walks past a brown bear peacefully. He later passes some hunters, who behave like rowdy, drunken idiots. A clerk reacts disdainfully and asks Logan, "You're not a hunter, are you?" Later we learn that the hunters were sloppy and stupid, and used illegal poisoned arrows, which resulted in the rest of them getting killed and also doomed the bear to a slow, agonizing death. Logan is distraught by the bear's suffering and returns to torture the surviving hunter, which is called "justice" by Yukio.
This actually ticked off the logging industry so much that they released their own book, Truax.
They also kind of missed the point with "The Lorax". Seuss' big deal was with the clear-cutting that certain companies did, without planting any replacement trees (which they did address in "their" version). However, they also subverted THEMSELVES when they asked "who would care?" if a specific species of tick went extinct due to logging.
No one likes being played as the bad guy, especially when you are doing your best to help the environment.
The animated special has a line that portrays the problem as less of a Black and White Morality situation. The Onceler points out that shutting down his factory would cause all of his workers to lose their jobs; the Lorax admits that he has a point, and also that he himself wouldn't know the answer.
The Onceler, to his credit, is quite remorseful of the wrong he's done to the forest. The Truax, not so much (he justifies saying no one would care about the ticks forever because they spread a germ that kills "Cuddlebears," and yes, they really called it that). As to things people would want to save because they're adorable, like minnows, he basically says, "Well, it's too hard to save them without changing what we're doing, so we just won't."
The Artemis Fowl series teems with these, some more subtle than others. As of book five, environmental issues have not featured in the main plot, but the fairy people are quick to criticize humanity's lack of respect for nature and Artemis tends to agree with them in an Even Evil Has Standards sort of way.
Lord of the Rings. In The Two Towers Saruman cuts down trees, Ents attack his tower and strip him of his power. Saruman pollutes the Shire, Hobbits kill him.
Saruman was all set to win at Helm's Deep until Treebeard sicced the copse on him.
The Aesop is balanced out in The Fellowship of The Ring when it is told that the old forest east of Hobbiton, headed by Old Man Willow, sought to destroy the Shire by ordering his trees to lean on the hedge surrounding the Shire. The Hobbits burnt the responsible trees and left their corpses on a clearing in the middle of the old forest. This, combined with the actions of Saruman later, makes the message lean more toward "respect nature, but don't let it rule you either."
Interestingly averted in the case of the elves, who are perfectly willing to harvest lumber and sell it to humans in The Hobbit. Granted, they probably weren't clear-cutting, but they weren't the utter tree-revering fanatics that many JRRT-inspired writers depict elves as being, either.
Always Coming Home.
Maximum Ride did this in the fourth book; the entire thing was about global warming. The characters went as far as to suddenly shout out why global warming was bad for the environment when their lives were on the line.
They seem to have now more or less permanently joined a group that promotes saving the environment.
Gerald Durrell's The Mockery Bird. Although considering Durrell was a naturalist by vocation this was to be expected, and the book's pretty funny anyway.
The Great Tree Of Avalon series by T.A. Barron takes this Up to Eleven. Apparently the dominant and "good" religion, the Society of the Whole, teaches that humans shouldn't keep animals "without their permission" or something, and the fact that The Dragon Kulwych uses animal labor on his dam is presented as just as evil as him forcing elves to work to death on it (horses are literally referred to as "slaves"). Likewise Hanwan Bellamir is presented as a bad guy because his (very successful!) agricultural community is based on the idea that farmers should, you know, use animals to help with their crops.
Contemporary Word Processing: yes, even typing textbooks can have a Green Aesop. Roughly half of the "Build Speed" exercises are about typing out a paragraph on not wasting water or being careful with packaging or some such.
Dune is subtle about it. There's a good deal of talking about how precious water is on Arrakis, yet there is enough that the planet could be terraformed to be more hospitable to humans if the right people care enough. It flows naturally from the desert planet concept.
Somewhat undermined by the fact that, though once revered by the ecology movement, the book is actually ecological nonsense with predators the size of subway trains living on, apparently, nothing but their own larvae.
Carl Hiassen's work almost always has some green aspect to it.
In Carbon Diaries 2015, it discusses the effects of global warming on the climate of the U.K.
Daemon and its sequel Freedom, where the Daemon guides its operatives into building sustainable communities based on local manufacture and renewable energy, while striking at Big Business and its long supply chains.
Terry Brooks used these quite often, especially in the Heritage Of Shannara series. The overarching plot of the story is about how the villains are overusing natural resources, and, if not stopped, will turn the earth into a barren wasteland. Of course, the resources in question are magical, but the metaphor is not very obscure.
Elizabeth Honey's Remote Man, which has a strong stance against wildlife exploitation - the villain runs an international smuggling operation - and excessive deforestation - the protagonist's mother gives a Character Filibuster on the subject at one point which avoids being too anvilicious.
Abomination by Guy N. Smith trumpets the benefits of organic farming, and insists that under no circumstances are laboratory-made pesticides ever allowable, and indeed they only make things worse, unleashing a horde of giant creepy crawlies to prey on the poor townsfolk. Even after the giant animals are defeated, everyone in the town still dies because an explosion at the chemical factory which spawned them unleashes cyanide into the environment, poisoning the entire town.
The Rainbow Magic series has The Green/Earth Fairies, about ecology and protecting the environment. While the fairies can help in-story, it's up to humans to truly fix things. Rachel and Kirsty are discouraged at first because it's such a big job for two girls, but by telling others, who then tell others, they feel encouraged that the planet can be saved. It also shows the sad, scary consequences of hurting the environment, such as polluted beaches and rivers, smog, climate change, and the threat of rainforests and coral reefs disappearing.
A minor plot point in Words Of Radiance. The Alethi have been hunting the chasmfiends for the past six years and harvesting their valuable Gem Hearts. Shallan Davar finally realizes that if they keep this up, they'll kill off all the chasmfiends.
In the For Your Safety series, this is the impetus for the Groupmind AI to engage in a Zeroth Law Rebellion in a last ditch attempt to have humanity before the Earth's environment is completely destroyed.
Ultraman Great was an environmentally-themed incarnation of Ultraman. Among things, the reason for Ultraman's three-minute transformation limit was because of Earth's polluted atmosphere.
The X-Files would occasionally wander into this territory, e.g: Don't cut down old-growth trees or vicious microscopic web-spinning bugs will drain your bodily fluids and cocoon you fifty feet above the ground. We overfished a lake, so now the local pleiseosaur is eating people!
Deconstructed in Las Vegas, when Delinda is shown researching ways for the Montecito to "go green". When she brings it to her fiance, President of Operations Danny McCoy, he points out that the changes she proposes would cost millions, people actually come to the casino for the fountain out front she wants to shut down, and he won't be bringing it to the attention of the owner. Her response is predictable. Later on, he reveals that the owner of the casino, Cooper, is making a few suites green, possibly even an entire floor if those prove successful, based on Delinda's suggestion. But he's not budging on the fountain, pointing out that the most green thing to do would be to shut down the entire hotel. Just like with his cattle ranches, he'd be okay, but a lot of people who work for him would lose their jobs. Earlier in the episode, a guest star emphasized eating local over eating organic, and Delinda was all gung-ho because she was worried about the world she's bringing the kid into.
The Muppets special Song of the Cloud Forest, about the last golden toads in the rainforest.
Jim Henson had a lot of these. Various skits on Sesame Street for instance. And the whole of Fraggle Rock is basically about being aware of your effect on, and place in, the ecosystem.
Stella subverted the trope with an episode about over-farming the land... only they were farming on the floor of their apartment. Their third story apartment. With illegal immigrants.
The tokusatsu series Kankyou Choujin Ecogainder. Essentially, Captain Planet with rubber suits.
In Dinosaurs there are several of these since Earl knocks down trees for a living. An example of this is the episode (though a story being read by Grandma) where Earl gets struck by lightning trying to knock down a tree and they switch minds so he becomes a tree for a week, learning about all the creatures that live in a single tree and what damage is happening when a single tree is knocked down.
More famous is the last episode where everybody dies in a huge snowstorm because they've been mistreating the planet.
Spoofed in an episode of My Name Is Earl. NBC wanted every one of their sitcoms that week to have a Green Aesop, and apparently not all of the writers were on board, leading to an exchange between Earl and the warden of the prison he was in at the time. Earl agrees to give a talk to some kids about obeying the law, in return for a reduction of his jail time. Then the warden, out of nowhere, asks, "What if our show had a Green message?" Earl responds, "That doesn't sound like it has anything to do with what our show's about."
Also in the episode, Earl was going to take some inmates with him for the talk with the kids mentioned above. When the warden tells Earl to have a green message it leads to this exchange between Earl and the Scary Black Man inmate.
Earl: "And, Scooby, when you tell that story about dumping a body in the woods, say you felt bad about littering."
Curiously, the season prior had a more balanced take on environmentalism in the Claymation episode, when Earl learned to not go overboard trying to save the earth and stick to simple but helpful environmental tasks anyone can do day-to-day like recycling cans and not littering.
Earl lives a green life. One of the items on his list is to stop smoking, not for his health but to stop polluting the atmosphere with his smoke. He does this in the 2nd epiosde.
NBC Universal's Green/Earth Week events are also an example of these, which are hampered by the fact that they call attention to their "Green Is Universal" movement only twice a year (the Green Is Universal website is up year-round, which makes it even worse). Though it can come out well; see the Las Vegas example above.
Parodied on Community. The Dean decides to change the name of the college to Envirodale and prints 5,000 leaflets, only to be told the school is already named Greendale. The Dean then orders the Envirodale leaflets destroyed, and another 5,000 printed up with Greendale in them.
In the documentary series How Earth Made Us, Professor Ian Stewart devotes the entire last episode to human effects on the planet, both past and present. He ends the series with a note of hope and a challenge for us all.
Today our relationship with the planet is a different one. We are now a geological force to rival the Earth's natural forces. The ultimate test will be how well we use that power. As a species, we like to think that we're special. Well, this is our chance to prove it.
Star Trek: Voyager had a Green Aesop In Space with an episode dealing with the Malons dumping toxic waste into a region of space called The Void that to them is seemingly uninhabited — but is actually populated by a race of beings that have adapted to live in complete darkness. The Voyager crew offers the Malon garbage scow pilot a way that his society can recycle the waste that they generate, but apparently he could only see that it would put him out of business and prefers continuing to use The Void as a dumping ground.
There was another episode that used it a little differently—Voyager finds a culture living on a ball of water in space. The inhabitants ask Voyager to figure out why the water is dissipating, but when Voyager finds out that it is all due to a specific industry, the inhabitants seem less than thrilled. Tom Paris is so sure that the solution will become bogged down in the bureaucracy. He steals the Delta Flyer and attempts to take out the industry himself. Janeway is less than amused and demotes him and sticks him in the brig.
In How I Met Your Mother, despite the fact that a main character's (Marshall's) oft-brought-up, focus-of-several-subplots dream job is to be an environmental lawyer, neither the show nor the characters ever mock him for it (apart from making hay out of his excessive zeal) and in fact treat it as a noble life goal and a worthy cause. It treats the fact that protecting the environment is a good thing with such a "well, duh" attitude that no one needs to learn a lesson in the first place.
The opposite perspective is shown in Season 9 when Marshall is stuck driving an obvious parody of large SUVs with an oil lobbyist as they are trying to make it back to New York together after the flight was canceled. She makes the relatively accurate point that the more common green alternative energies aren't actually good enough to power the world and that nuclear energy is the only thing that can actually compete with oil. It also fits his current personal situation of always being nice to everyone to the expense of himself.
The Doctor Who episode "The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe" features the Doctor trying to save a civilization that's about to be wiped out by a human-induced bout of acid rain. Though for all that, the message is surprisingly understated, with no one ever actually coming out and saying there even is a message, with writer Steven Moffat trusting us to pick it up for ourselves.
Earth 2100 is a Speculative Documentary that details the worst case scenario of what might happen if people continue on this path, interspersed with motion comic segments centered on a woman named Lucy who witnesses the end results. By 2100, wars over resources and a mutated flu virus wipes out much of the population, society breaks down into a Cyberpunk equivalent of the Dark Ages, and the environment has become so damaged, it will take centuries to stabilize at the very least. Lucy herself laments that her grandson will never be able to experience the things her generation took for granted, and can only hope that the future generations can learn from their predecessors' mistakes. The aesop? The Earth is our home, and we should treat it with respect and not take it for granted.
The crown for all of these going to "Blackened" by Metallica.
Respect for the environment is one of the issues that Canadian melodeath band The Agonist likes to work into their songs. It's probably also worth noting that their singer is an activist and spokesperson for PETA.
Michael Jackson's "Earth Song", which covers humanity's inhumanity to Earth, animals, and its own kind. The video has everything recovering — from pollution going back into factories to war dead coming back to life — when grieving people cry and dig into the dirt.
Mago de Oz song "La venganza de Gaia" tells the history of a Corrupt Corporate Executive. who is judged by mother nature and a bunch of plants and animals, is find guilty and sentenced to become a tree in a polluted forest... until it's cut down and a beaver use it to build a dam.
Gorillaz loves this trope. For examples just look to the entire Plastic Beach album, particularly "Superfast Jellyfish," "Plastic Beach," and "Rhinestone Eyes." There's a lot of environmentalist-themed songs in Demon Days too, like "Every Planet We Reach Is Dead." (The title speaks for itself.) Special mention, however, goes to the static-y, muffled anthem "O Green World:"
"O Green World/Don't desert me now/Bring me back to fallen town where someone's still alive
O Green World/Don't deserve me now/I'm made of you and you of me-but where are we? Oh, no..."
"They took all the trees, an' put 'em in a tree museum..."
Orbital's album In Sides definitely had this as a theme—except all the songs are instrumental or have gibberish vocals, so you'd have to read the liner notes and band interviews to pick up on it. The liner notes decry "dirty electricity" and encourage development of solar power (noting that "The Girl with the Sun in Her Head" was recorded entirely with solar power). "P.E.T.R.O.L." was written in response to an oil spill, and "Dŵr Budr" (Welsh for "Dirty Water") is about water pollution.
Xera stated that their album Tierra is a call to live in harmony with the natural world.
Midnight Oil does this with their song "Blue Sky Mine".
Many Gojira songs are about how man destroys nature (and flying whales from outer space, but that's mostly irrelevant).
Korpiklaani Does a dark antiheroic example of this in their video for Keep on Galloping, in which the band members torment a logger with some sort of wooden voodoo doll thing. At the end of the video, the logger presumably quits his job and is seen planting a tree.
Jethro Tull did this back in 1970 with the Aqualung outtake "Wond'ring Again", and expanded on this with the 1979 album Stormwatch (The album cover of Stormwatch depicts the aftermath of an ice age caused by environmental devastation).
The B-52s have several environmental songs including Juicy Jungle, Channel Z and Topaz. Some of the proceeds from their successful album Cosmic Thing were donated to Greenpeace as well. The band were notably upset that the Cosmic Thing CD initially shipped with a longbox (then common with CDs) because it was environmentally wasteful, so they printed the numbers of various charities on the excess space.
Much of the repertoire of John Denver, when not Silly Love Songs fit this trope. He was an outdoorsman and pilot outside of his music career, and greatly championed ecological and animal and human rights causes from the beginning of his career.
Werewolf: The Apocalypse: the werewolves serve to protect Gaia from the machinations of the Wyrm, a gigantic cosmic entity of suffering and entropy that acts mainly through a Megacorp full of cultists. A bit subverted, in that the werewolves have probably done just as much to fuck up their cause as the bad guys.
The Magic: The Gathering Antiquities arc pretty much provides a textbook example of what not to do to your planet.
Found throughout Disney's Animal Kingdom with two attractions including poaching and deforestation, with many others promoting conservation and general respect for life. (Which is actually a bit different than some others as it shows potential solutions, making it more like a documentary)
The Land pavilion at Epcot does this as well, but in surprising moderation. For starters, only one of the two rides has a pro-environmental message, the other being "California is cool" (that would be Soarin'). The other ride, Living with the Land, is a boat ride broken into two parts, a boat ride through a series of animatronics that discusses the delicate balance of the ecosystems and human interaction. The second half not only suggests ways to improve farm the land intelligently, but shows working implementations of them that include hydroponics, cultivating dry climate plants in traditionally arid parts of the world, and fish farming. In fact, much of the fish that is farmed on site is used in Disney World restaurants. The films that have played in the Harvest Theater (Symbiosis and Circle of Life: An Environmental Fable, the latter of which features characters from The Lion King) also discuss how humans have both hurt and helped the environment.
The arrival of Sephiroth pushes the Mega Corp. into a lower priority. Still, pretty much every bad thing in the series happens because of Shinra, directly or indirectly.
Though, it is worth pointing out that Cloud and company sabotaged Shinra's attempt to stop Sephiroth, and that Shinra took out two of the giant monster Weapons themselves (which the good guys only exceed in 100% completion). Also, the "good" guys are rightly portrayed as terrorists in the beginning of the first part, where people were talking about how many innocents were killed by your actions in the prologue.
While Final Fantasy VII is the most explicit about this trope, many games in the Final Fantasy series are about respecting the planet and being in balance with it - the plot of Final Fantasy I explicitly kicks off because bad guys upset the world's balance and it's up to the four heroes to restore it. , for example.
Awesome Possum Kicks Dr. Machino's Butt earns the distinction of being the only Sonic the Hedgehog clone that's a Green Aesop game. Awesome Possum collects discarded cans and light bulbs to gain 1-Ups, destroys robots that are wielding chainsaws or mining for oil, and at the end of every level, you have to answer a question that usually involves conservation to gain 10,000 points. The Game Over screen features an over-polluted world, and Awesome Possum's catchphrase is "I'm gonna clean up this world yet!" (and about 100 other things that he'll keep saying over and over again).
Sonic the Hedgehog games contain varying degrees of what can be considered Green Aesops. The basic plot of the original games involves Sonic rescuing other animals from Robotnik's machines, levels such as Chemical Plant Zone, Scrap Brain Zone, and Oil Ocean Zone are over-industrialized hellholes, and a major aspect of Sonic CD is preventing Robotnik from despoiling the environment in the future by defeating robots of his in the present. The writers of Sonic Sat AM would take this and run with it.
Sonic CD is an interesting case, because it's not an "all-technology-is-bad" message. In the good futures, technology and nature are working in harmony for... whatever it is they're actually supposed to be doing.
Wouldn't it be safe to say that the "working in harmony" aspect is that, as technology became more advanced, rather than compete with nature, the two forces combined in order to make life on Earth more peaceful. Since there's no pollution (visible pollution at least), it's safe to say that the combination of technology and nature has worked to fix any destruction done to Earth's ecosystems in the past by pollution, and is now working to prevent that damage from ever happening again.
In Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri, Lady Deirdre Skye, who leads a faction called Gaia's Stepdaughters, is probably closest to being the moral exemplar among the faction leaders. Guess what her agenda is? On the other hand, in Alien Crossfire, the expansion, one of the seven new factions is even greener than Deirdre... and is presented as much more of a Knight Templar. Of course, his determination to preserve Planet even if the cost is humanity's extinction helps. And to be fair, every faction leader in the series has at least a bit of Knight Templar in them...if you so much as build a Planet Buster at higher difficulty levels, for example, Deirdre will hammer your ass.
Amusingly, any faction (controlled by the player), even the Morganites (oddly enough), can easily out-green the Gaians if they pick the right choices, without all the smugness. But the fact remains that having a high Planet rating (i.e., being eco-friendly) is one of the best things to have in the late game so high mineral production doesn't result in a boil of mindworms the size of Kentucky chowing down on your citizens' brains.
But the Gaians still get an extra + 1 Planet, letting them get one point higher than any other faction if they choose all of the green social engineering choices.
Tales of Vesperia is one of the best examples of this in video games, using fantasy analogues to tell a story about man vs. nature in general, with the final battle actually being waged over conservationism note specifically, geo-engineering vs. preservationism. In fact, the Adephagos can be seen as a metaphor for pollution since it threatens the world. And it's not brought about by malice or intention, like a lot of environmental disasters in life, it was brought out by accident and carelessness. Like in real life, the Krytians and Alexei simply didn't know any better. Of course, how this ties into a story that was advertised as being about vigilantism is anybody's guess.
Metroid: Fusion is all about how Samus' actions in Metroid II: The Return of Samus were by-and-large a big mistake, because now she's got to deal with a threat that the Metroids were keeping in check.
But the Metroids were created artificially by the Chozo, they aren't "green".
Also a bit warped, in that Samus solves the problem by blowing up planet SR388, thus making everything else native there, besides the Metroids she already wiped out, go extinct as well.
However, its implied that in the years since Samus destroyed the Metroids, the X Parasites had grown out of control and overwhelmed the planetary ecosystem, meaning most of its species would have been extinct already.
Chapter 5 of Super Paper Mario ends with the cavepeople-like Cragnons learning not to pollute the rivers; by doing so, they were ruining the water source of a race of plant-people, who got pissed off and started kidnapping and brainwashing the Cragnons in retaliation. When they figured out why the plants were raiding their villages, they stopped polluting and peace returned between the two races.
Although, they crossed deep into being Anvilicious with this line.
"I mean come on! Water is easily one of our most precious natural resources!"
The aesop is lost just a little bit when you consider that, according to the plant people's testimony, they never just told the Cragnons to stop polluting their water. They went immediately from discovering that they were polluting their drinking water to enslaving them to mine for gems. Probably because the waste dumping caused the plant leader to suffer from a bout of temporary insanity.
This is seen in Gaia, one of the most famous user-created levels for the freeware game Knytt Stories, especially when visiting the past or the future.
In Day Of The Tentacle, all of the problems persistent stem from Dr. Fred polluting a stream with a machine named the Sludge-o-Matic. It's played with however, because the Sludge-o-Matic's was purposefully made for creating and discharging toxic goop, for the sake of Dr. Fred's reputation and self-esteem.
Dr. Fred: You can't have a lab like this and not spew poisonous filth! All the other evil scientists would laugh!
Advance Wars: Dual Strike. The Big Bad's plot is to turn a continent into a wasteland so he can retain the youth of himself and a select group of underlings. The arguments used by both armies are typical Straw Political excuses (claiming it's the same as eating, vague and misguided references to natural selection, etc.). Whether this is an Aesop or a Broken Aesop depends on how cynical the player is.
In Metal Walker, NPCs will tell you the land has become terribly polluted following the disaster 50 years ago. A couple area names are Muddy Lake and Acid Lake. For the most part, though, it's fairly subtle; you don't have to talk to the citizens. There is one area in the entire game with trees and grass, aptly named Ever Green.
Jett Rocket has a mild one. The bad guys, the Power Plant Posse, exist only to suck energy and use up resources—but after the opening story sequence, this isn't really mentioned again.
World of Warcraft at least doesn't go up-front about it, at least, that is, unless you do a few quests, and even then, there's room for Gray and Grey Morality there. The Night Elves often view the Horde as a scourge upon the environment, when this isn't entirely true given that most of the Horde is Shamanistic and it's likely that they are just clashing over natural resources but don't want to strip Azeroth down to its core. The Night Elves can also be viewed as too overprotective...and they're also siding with Gnomes, Dwarves, and humans, who don't entirely have a clean record with the environment themselves. (ESPECIALLY Gnomes) The Draenei also are clearly well aware of their alien radiation mutating the environment (Only around their starting islands, though, which arguably act as a quarantine for such things) It can get complicated, especially given that Goblins are joining the fray and are often portrayed as most businesses who never cared 'bout the environment unless it gave them a few dollars.
A few quests also come across as this. While it's rather obvious that the Horde vs. Alliance in terms of the environment is rather gray, the obvious black are the Burning Legion, Venture Co and the Scourge. They're even more destructive to the environment (and their employees!) than the gnomes or most undead ever will be, unless the gnomes suddenly detonate a nuclear bomb in the Burning Steppes or the undead do an organic equivalent in Lordaeron.
The Burning Legion and the Scourge can easily be interpreted as a parallel to pollution, while Venture Co is pretty much the polluting Mega Corp. who doesn't care. Many quests involving Venture Co involve either stopping them from polluting, strip-mining, or polluting the world. Many quests in Felwood involve cleaning up the heavily polluted mess in the region. As for the scourge...well take one look around the plaguelands and most of Northrend to get it. The Avatar of Freya in Scholozar Basin pretty much charges you with the duty of keeping the scourge from ruining that tropical paradise in freezing Northrend.
In Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, the Schwarzwelt comes to be because, in the opinion of the Four Kings and the Four Mothers, humanity is destroying Earth with pollution and consumption. It's especially evident in Sectors Delphinus and Eridanus —the former taking the shape of a hellish junkyard to reflect mankind's contempt for nature, and the latter being a pristine garden maintained by an entity that is violently protective of nature.
It even plays out in the Multiple Endings: the Neutral ending implies that the surviving crew will have the responsibility of teaching mankind about what they witnessed, so the Schwarzwelt doesn't manifest itself again; the Chaos ending explicitly states that, in its Darwinist world where only the strong survive, Earth will revert to a wild and untamed world and Mother Nature will be free to flourish again; finally, the Law ending states that, with every last living thing on Earth in the thrall of Zelenin's Song, mindlessly singing God's praises for all eternity, mankind won't spoil Earth's bounty and the environment will recover gloriously.
Endless Ocean and its sequel Blue World can be pretty heavy-handed, the latter moreso than the former thanks to its wider variety of missions. You're paid to: relocate fish found outside of their natural habitat, cure them of unnamed illnesses, display them in a large aquarium equipped with tanks suitable for all specimens, and sell off the salvage items you find on the ocean floor. Also, several cutscenes talk about how various species are endangered and what human acts are causing them, with one supporting character getting more pissed at humans before calming down after assisting some people saving a family of beaching whales.
The trivia sections of a lot of the fish in the encyclopedia further beat you over the head by pointing out how many of them are endangered and their habitats disrupted.
Would you believe Sam & Max Hit the Road? Possibly also qualifies as a Broken Aesop since the problem was only solved by going on frequent and dubiously necessary road trips to various tourist destinations, and a Space Whale Aesop since the reason given for loving the Earth and not cutting down trees is so bigfoots can flourish. The nature of the series being what it is, though, it could be a Spoof Aesop.
Considering the bigfoot they spend the game chasing reacts by saying he's headed to Vegas if the "weird tree crap hasn't ruined it", it's pretty assuredly a Spoof Aesop.
A fairly subtle one occurs in Majin And The Forsaken Kingdom. There are a few offhand comments from animals about the old kingdom cutting down forests, etc. Then in one of the Majin's recovered memory flashbacks, it's mentioned that the evil Darkness that destroyed the old kingdom was a waste product produced by their technology, which they had been dumping into the earth for years. This also makes it a Space Whale Aesop. Thankfully the game isn't heavy-handed about it.
MOTHER 3 had this to some degree; the game begins with the Pigmasks burning down a forest. Not to mention utterly ruining most of the world's animal life. Even the logo of the game shows wood and greenery meshed with metallic technology; at the end, the logo is shown again, now completely wood.
Seems to be the point of the Kremkroc Industries, Inc. area from Donkey Kong Country. In the sequel, the Kremlings' home island is also shown to be all polluted and grimdark.
The first Ratchet & Clank sees Chairman Drek attempting to create a new world for his people because the old one is terribly polluted and overcrowded. When you reach the Blargian homeworld Orxon, it clearly resembles Ratchet's home of Veldin with several layers of sludge: cragy mountains with pterodactyls and deep valleys filled with either serene mist (Veldin) or toxic goo (Orxon). Veldin is even stated to be at the perfect distance from the sun for Blargian comfort, strengthening the parallels between the two. When you learn that Drek intentionally polluted the world and intends to do it again, it becomes even more obvious. Future installments tend to drop a small nugget or two of Green Aesop, as well, but they're not as central to the plot.
By the end of Super Robot Wars Compact 3, Emma wonders what they'll do about the Conquestor with Judo noting that they can't just attack the planet Ganimede since it's so far away. Ryusuke note that if they can get rid of the pollution and damage to their world; that should be fine with Mika also noting that if they can keep their planet clean and green, the Conquestor hopefully wouldn't attack again. Noin note that that sounds a lot like a new battle for them with Zechs noting that it's one without fighting this time to which Duo says that he's up for it. Heero note that it's also a war in which they will not need their Gundams and Quatre says that they should let their Gundam rest from now on.
Factorio uses pollution as a way to prevent overexpansion. Almost every piece of machinery used in your factory generates pollution, which agitates the planet's natives, a race of Big Creepy-Crawlies. Pollution causes their nests to become denser and expand, and the bug forms to evolve. If you expand your factory too quickly and clear-cut forests, you'll quickly find your factories being overrun by building-sized bugs. Luckily, there's plenty of military tech to research - Powered Armor, personal defense robots, laser cannons, etc - so you can eventually become a Captain Planet villain and gleefully burn down forests with napalm while bugs charge to their death at your reinforced turret grids guarded by mines and train battering rams
Eien no Aselia begins building towards a green aesop about non renewable resources around the third chapter. There's also some disapproval of nuclear power. As Esperia's ending shows, without ether technology Phantasmorgia is unable to build a high tech society and remains at around a medieval level of technology.
Rewrite features this as a theme throughout the heroine's route as the main conflict comes from the key which is said to annihilate humanity once their ways become unsustainable. Subverted in the Terra route. As far as the Key is concerned, it's perfectly natural for mankind to not worry about the environment when they first enter the modern era. In the end it's not environmental measures that will save the Earth but rather utilizing technology and techniques that Gaia and Guardian have been monopolizing after destroying both organizations to keep them from fighting and sucking up life energy even faster. Finally, the ultimate long term solution is to leave the Earth entirely and settle on a new planet.
The Toxic Planet webcomic by David Ratte (now compiled for print as a stand alone volume) basically epitomizes this trope.
Several games from La Molle Industria, mainly Oiligarchy and the McDonald's Game (also known as Burger Tycoon in the non-trademark-violating version), address environmental issues. The McDonald's game addresses erosion, land use issues and the rain forest destruction that can result, genetically modified crops, and global warming (in a completely inaccurate way in the original version). Oiligarchy deals with oil spills, global warming, habitat disruption (i.e. in Alaska), sustainability, and other issues. Both games also have environmentalists who can potentially disadvantage industry and the ability for the Villain Protagonist player to corrupt politicians and/or climatologists in an attempt to get away with doing little to address environmental concerns.
In "The Winter Solstice", the Gaang met an angry forest spirit named Hei Bai, who rampaged through a village every night as revenge for the destruction of his forest (though the villagers weren't even responsible).
"The Painted Lady" also counts, but it's a little different from the norm in that no one needs to learn the lesson. They arrive at a polluted town, but it's from the army factory upstream, so it's neither the townspeople's fault nor can they do anything about it until Team Avatar comes along. We see the effects on the town (sickness, warped wildlife), and the effects after clean up, and that's enough.
"The Puppetmaster" actually features a subversion of a standard Green Aesop. The Gaang comes to a town where people keep vanishing every month during the full moon. The kids immediately assume that the townspeople did something to anger the spirits by hurting the environment, but they can't find anything environmentally unfriendly. Eventually, they drop the idea just before finding out who was really kidnapping the townspeople.
An episode of Disney's The Legend of Tarzan had this with Tarzan having to deal with a man who wanted to bulldoze the jungle for its trees. This causes a virus to be released from the ground, infecting the workmen and the man's daughter, and one of the ingredients for the antidote turns out to be a flower which was destroyed by the bulldozers. Fortunately, it turns out the man's daughter picked one, so everyone's saved. The episode ends with seeds from that flower being replanted and everyone learning to never mess with the jungle.
Often subverted in South Park, as any episodes having to do with the environment have anti-environmental Aesops.
Inverted in the episode "Rainforest Schmainforest" has the kids join a choir group (Getting Gay with Kids) to try and stop the deforestation of the Rain Forest, but in the end, Cartman turns out to be right in that everyone would be better off without the rain forest. All of the animals and savage tribes in the rain forest are out to kill them, while the loggers cutting down the rain forest are nice guys just doing their job, and end up saving the day for everyone.
Even more, the episode deconstructs the standard "Save the Rainforest" aesop when the citizens of a city near one of the rainforests calls out the main activist character on Americans only wanting to save the rainforest to ease their guilt over their own massive over-consumption, and that they only see the rainforest as "the habitat for all of those pretty flowers", not caring about the Death World reality that those who actually live near the rainforests have to deal with.
In "Two Days Before the Day After Tomorrow", global warming is portrayed more as a myth causing mass panic and making everyone paranoid and stupid schizophrenics rather than an actual threat we need to worry about.
In "Smug Alert", it isn't gas-guzzling SUVs causing smog that is a problem, but hybrid car owners releasing deadly smug into the air that causes the greatest damage to the environment and to civilization. Not really anti-environment: the episode attacks those people who buy a hybrid car, do little else and consider themselves saints amongst sinners. Everyone agrees that hybrid (or better yet, electric) cars are great, and that one day they'll learn how to be able to drive them without being smug. There is also a third cloud of smug: George Clooney's acceptance speech which appears to claim Hollywood to be at the forefront of liberal thinking.
When not outright subverted, it is parodied, such as the case in "Spontaneous Combustion", where global warming occurs because everyone is farting too much and thus releasing harmful methane fumes into the air. The Green Aesop here would be that you should only fart in moderation or when it's really, really funny.
"Goobacks", an episode about people travelling from the future to escape poor conditions, ends with a spoof montage of everyone coming together to help the environment so people won't need to travel back in time to seek a better life. They stop when Stan remarks that this is "gay"; more so, in fact, than the men's attempt earlier in the episode to stop the future from happening by having a gay orgy.
Played straight and parodied in "Lice Capades", which used Clyde Donovan's head as a literal "Earth as a living organism" form of Gaias Revenge.
The Simpsons have had a lot of Green Aesops over the years, including in The Movie. Usually at least partly subverted, but almost always with a bit of a point to them as well.
One of the episodes that deconstructs this Aesop is the one in which Homer has to take care of an endangered bug he found in the backyard that's going extinct naturally, due to the fact that it screams incessantly, will die without constant reassurance and is sexually attracted to fire ("Are you sure God doesn't want it to be dead?"). It makes the actual intriguing argument that humans preventing animals from going extinct naturally via natural selection can be just as disruptive as driving a species to extinction via hunting, pollution, or habitat loss. Then it forgets about the message for the second half of the episode. Of course, given the minuscule likelihood of an inherently Too Stupid To Live creature evolving, and the incredibly long timespan over which natural selection naturally occurs, it would just have turned into a Broken Aesop or Space Whale Aesop anyway.
Word of God says the Green Aesop of "Trash of the Titans", as Homer becomes Springfield's sanitation commissioner and messes Springfield up so horribly that the town is moved 5 miles away, was entirely unintentional.
There have been a couple of episodes of Sushi Pack with this aesop, although it's usually secondary to the actual plot. The straightest example is the episode "Lights Out," where, because one town wasted water and electricity, power went out all over the world (and jolting one power station back to life was enough to bring power back to the whole world).
Several episodes of the original (1973-1974) Superfriends had environmentalist themes, including "Dr. Pelagian's War", "Too Hot To Handle" and "The Watermen".
Sonic Sat AM. The show also pointed out that Robotnik was evil because he misused technology (some of which he stole and perverted — the Roboticizer was originally designed to allow elderly and terminally ill people to live longer) — not because technology is inherently bad.
This is the shtick of Widget The World Watcher, a cartoon about a shape-shifting alien who comes to Earth to teach the locals to preserve the environment, and ends up protecting it from a number of aliens and other villains who want to steal/exploit Earth's resources.
The plot of Barbie Presents Thumbelina involves the lesson that even little people (both literally with the Twillerbees and figuratively with the young girl Makena) can help the environment.
Smoggies (also known as Stop The Smoggies) was a late eighties cartoon show made in Canada with a Green Aesop or two in every episode. The show features the Suntots, who utilize clean power and live in harmony with the animals of the island. They constantly thwart the plans of the Smoggies, three humans who arrived on a polluting ship in search of treasure and eternal life. And of course, the Suntots do not share the secrets of their clean energy with anyone else.
The "Smoggies" were not interested in the Suntots' technology, only in finding the "Magic Coral of Youth", which was supposedly the source of the Suntots' youthful appearance, but they claim doesn't exist; so either the Suntots were JerkAsses for not sharing, or the humans were Too Dumb to Live for chasing after something totally mythical.
Gargoyles had a moral about saving the rainforest in the Guatemala episode. However, Eliza points out that the humans do need SOME trees, but the native clan of gargoyles brush her off. Her point is not brought up again in the episode.
Worth noting that in Real Life rainforests aren't being cut down to make lumber, but to make space for farming, which is extremely short sighted, since rainforest soil is extremely poor due to all those trees, which have sucked most of the nutrients from the surface soil long ago. In fact lumber is one of the major reasons for preserving the rain forests! You can't cut down trees from farmland.
However, the episode ends with the Mayan Clan acknowledging that deforestation is a necessary evil, and coming up with an acceptable solution: growing a rainforest on Avalon
Danny Phantom had a big one in "Urban Jungle." Remember, kids, be nice to nature, or giant plant ghosts will turn you into chlorophyll zombies and feed you to nature! (Although to be fair, the show pulls this off very rarely, especially given Sam's personality.) Arguably averted halfway through when the episode starts focusing on Danny's New Super Power. Not to mention none of the main characters learned a lesson in the end, the Aesop just trailed off.
There was an episode of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983) where Skeletor gave He-Man amnesia and sent him to another world that was being polluted by an evil purple rabbit. The entire planet looked like it was ripped off from Dr. Suess.
The Super Hero Squad Show did a global warming one that involved one of Doom's machines melting the Artic ice cap when the self destruct was pushed complete with Flat Man the Ben Stein sounding arguer that global warming was false even when he was up to his neck in water from the ice cap as it flooded the city and fixed by ice man.
The Man Who Planted Trees is a Canadian animated film adaptation of a powerful story of a shepherd's lonely resolve to reforest a desolate and despoiled valley over decades and he succeeds completely.
The Wombles had a mild version of this as its main premise, the titular characters dedicating themselves to tidying up Wimbledon Common and turning rubbish into gadgets. Mild as in it didn't go beyond 'littering is bad, recycling is good'.
SpongeBob SquarePants had a two-minute short called "The Endless Summer", which was originally made for Earth to America, and later a half-hour special called "SpongeBob's Last Stand", which was about him and Patrick doing everything they could to stop a super highway from being built through Jellyfish Fields. Everyone approves of the project and no sooner was the pavement put down that the grass dies and the air becomes dingy. Also, SpongeBob's livelihood is ruined since the highway baricades the Krusty Krab restaurant.
Galaxy Rangers seemed inordinately fond of this trope for a cartoon done in The Eighties. "Progress," "In Sheep's Clothing," "Space Moby" (with an Affectionate Parody of Greenpeace), "Mistwalker," "Natural Balance," and "Marshmallow Trees" used it blatantly, while other episodes made reference to responsible and irresponsible corporate and agricultural practices.
Averted in Slacker Cats when Buckley and Eddie decide to save the woods where the humans building new houses because that's where the cats poop. Later they forget about it and ultimately fail to save it.
Parodied on Jimmy Two-Shoes, when an Identical Stranger of Beezy poses as him in order to pass a number of enviorment related laws. As you might expect from this show, no lesson is really learned.
Occurs sometimes in Tiny Toon Adventures. There's the episodes with Plucky's Secret Identity "The Toxic Revenger" (a Toxic Avenger parody), and there's a whole show dedicated to pollution and how to deal with it. There's also 2 episodes that deal with the evil Gotcha Grabmore, who makes coats and beauty products out of live animals.
Thomas the Tank Engine, "Henry's Forest": A storm devastates a glen where Henry drives through, and he is visibly shaken by the disaster. It's one of the more positive examples, as the fallen timber is used to make things; and the other engines help replant the trees that were lost. It's a nicely subtle use of this trope, and a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming for Henry.