My Blog Inaction Day Contribution

by keith on October 17, 2007

This week, on October 15th, the blogosphere celebrated Blog Action Day, a day on which hundreds of bloggers wrote about a specific topic. This year’s topic, not surprisingly, was the environment. In response to this day of collective yapping, I’m holding my own blogging event. Only, I’m the only participant, and I won’t delude myself into thinking that by talking (or writing) about something I’m going to change anything.

Now, before you starting thinking that I’m an evil anti-environmentalist, let me make a couple of statements. First of all, I do believe that we all must individually begin making better choices. We’re the only creatures on earth that befoul their own living environment … and continue to do so after the negative impacts are realized. Secondly, I love Nature. I love being in Nature. There is an awesome feeling being in a pristine location, with no man-made structures in sight. I can totally relate to animist religions, like Shinto, that revere natural locations as sacred, such as mountains, waterfall, streams, forests, etc.

One More Reason the World is Coming to an End

What I’m opposed to is this upsurge of apocalyptic mania surrounding the environment. The movement loses credibility the more frantic it becomes. Frankly, people are turned off when someone starts with the wailing and the gnashing of teeth. For too many centuries and millennia, people have been hounded by prophets of doom in one form or another, and it seems to have been an easy transition from the rise of the anti-Christ to the rise of global temperatures.

In keeping with past traditions, the prognosticators of environmental demise are as fervent in their beliefs as the most dedicated Christian Revelation scholar. Any opposing view is shot down as nothing short of blasphemy. There is only one truth, according to them, and their truth is it. Take for instance any scientist that comes forward and says, “Well, this may not be global warming. It could very well just be a cyclical climate change. After all, we’ve only been recording meteorological data for the last hundred years or so. Additionally, species loss was occurring long before the Industrial Revolution, so it’s hard to completely nail that on humans.” Environmentalists may not literally burn people with such opposing views at the stake, but the movement does much to try to ruin the careers of those scientists.

The Canonization of St. Al, the Alarmist

Sitting at the head of this movement is Al Gore, who was recently awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, a prize that has all but lost all of its value and meaning to me at this point, especially after the likes of Yasser Arafat won it in 1994. Somehow, Saint Al beat the likes of Irena Sendler, who sacrificed her own personal safety during World War II to rescue Jewish children from certain death. He, on the other hand, fought against hanging chads. Here is a guy that so disdained America after losing his bid for the presidency that he took money to speak in Saudi Arabia and lie to them, saying that we’re kidnapping innocent Saudis on the streets of Anytown, U.S.A. and taking away their rights to due process. Not only was it not happening “like that,” it wasn’t happening at all.

And yet, this saint of the Environmental Church of the Apocalypse, who, by the way, creates more carbon emissions than most small towns, received the Nobel Peace Prize. Here’s a guy that would take away every right possible from you and me in order to secure his own causes, and he was given a prize that should only be given to people who build up humanity and work to secure rights and freedoms for those who don’t have it.

One thing is certain: with all of these gloom and doom religions that pop up (and make no mistake, environmentalism is nothing short of a religion), there are always hypocrites in the mix. This is another thing that turns people off. Is Al Gore’s private jet a hybrid vehicle? How about his motorcade? While he demands huge lifestyle changes in the average American, the biggest change we’ve seen in him in recent years was the beard he grew a few years back.

Real Answers for the Real World

What environmentalists fail to realize is that the average person is just doing the best they can to just get by in life. We’re not maliciously refusing to recycle, being dastardly in our lack of adoption of hybrid vehicles, or purposefully setting ourselves against the environment by not reducing waste and carbon emissions. We just haven’t seen any practical and, most importantly, affordable solutions on the table yet.

In many other countries, it’s a different story. For instance, I’ve been to Japan, and I’ve marveled at their efforts to give back to the environment. They set aside specific parts of the island that in no way, shape, or form can be used for any development; they have an excellent (almost tyrannical) recycling program; and they have excellent public transportation systems. That was my favorite part of being in Japan — you do not need a car to get around efficiently and effectively there. Just hop on the rail line, and you can be anywhere within minutes in Tokyo. Want to go to a different city? Hop on the JR Railway and take the Shinkansen to wherever you need to go. It’s really an incredible system.

In America, however, we’ve had a couple of centuries of having access to wide open spaces. The idea of having a massive public transportation system throughout the country isn’t very practical. Smaller cities have grown over the years without having had a foundational transportation system in place. And now, with the massive growth of metropolitan areas throughout the country, our own successes have brought us to where we are now.

Take Austin, where I live, for example. Ten years ago, the road system may have been perfect for the couple hundred thousand residents of the city. But today, as the population looms around one million and the suburban areas experience their own population booms, everything is nearly at a standstill during the morning and evening rush hours every single day. It is absolutely miserable. But we’re unable to move forward with any massive solutions because 1) Texans are rabidly independent and detest the idea of having to pay for and use a mass-transit system, and 2) the environmentalists are so protective of the natural areas in and around the city that a massive road building effort (and probably even a rail system building effort) would be stifled by decades of protest.

My point is that there are no practical solutions in place that most people feel comfortable with. Meanwhile, we are subjected to daily indoctrination from the environmentalists who continually chant, “We’re doomed. The End is near!” Here’s my advice:

  • Make it easy for me to recycle everything that I use that’s recyclable, and I’ll do it.
  • Make hybrid vehicles more affordable and attractive, and I’ll buy one.
  • Make it easy and inexpensive for me to take mass-transit to work, and I’ll happily give up my stress-filled commute.
  • Don’t give me chintzy short-term solutions like E85, which requires at least one gallon of fossil fuel to manufacture and distribute it (so you’re not doing the environment any favors by using it).
  • And don’t try to shove any ideology down my throat. Just tell me the facts and let me make a logical decision.
  • Give me long-term solutions that aren’t going to require a massive upheaval of my life in order to participate in them.

If you do that, I’ll be happy to contribute what I can to protecting and preserving the environment. But whatever you do, call off the Environmental Inquisition. Apocalyptic Millennialism hasn’t worked well for Christianity, and it won’t work for you.

{ 2 comments }

Julie October 22, 2008 at 3:12 pm

Keith,

I always appreciate your posts. Just wanted to mention that there are many, many people who, like you, love the feeling of being in nature and are concerned about the practical implications of human behaviors–implications such as air pollution, habitat loss, and resource depletion. These concerns have a common-sense self-interest behind them. Of course you are going to have extremists out there yelling that the sky is falling. In my experience, these folks generally seem to be those that are new enough to their awareness that their alarm has not tempered yet. They react on impulse and passion, not knowledge and understanding. Unfortunately for many of us, they hurt the efforts of others working to protect our natural resources. Others have tied up their ego so much in railing AGAINST things that they’ve lost sight of what it is they want to accomplish. Then there are the life-longers who are just like you. Trying our best and fully aware that the average person doesn’t have time or inclination to bike to work, stop eating cows, or recycle their yogurt tops. (Humor.) There’s a saying I use. Any jackass can kick down a barn door, but it takes a carpenter to build one. Using that analogy for environmental protection, you should know that there are thousands or millions of people working quietly behind the scenes every day to try to make the things you mention easier, convenient, and more American, if you will. Whether it be subtle efforts at the education you mentioned (bite-sized and to the point, yet obvious and high enough profile to have an impact) or the efforts to develop new technologies that make saving energy easy, or products that are less toxic, etc. We’re out here. We’re working hard. We are tired, too. We are also just trying to get by. We get it. And we deserve not to be lumped in with the less enlightened of our brethren. Thanks for reading.

Julie October 22, 2008 at 4:11 pm

One more thing. The whole reason that some people demonstrate and raise the alarm is to get an issue noticed. Clearly somebody somewhere achieved their aim because here you are, writing about environmental issues (whether for good or bad) so the message has gotten out. The conversation has been started. Sometimes that’s the true aim. The people at the protests are on the far left, but they’ve moved the chains (borrowing a football expression.) But I think you get my point. It’s like this: most of us aren’t extreme and aren’t fond of extremists. But the extremists also provide us the luxury of seeming reasonable and rational if only by comparison alone. And slowly we edge closer to an objective.

There was a time, after all, that abolitionists seemed like crazy Yankee leftists. I’m glad they got their message across, though. Aren’t you?

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