Sunday, 6 April 2008

Shades of Grey (My Personal Environmental Backlash)

In recent years (and probably more so since the "Former Next President of the United States of America" got his Noble Prize and Academy Award) the environmental movement seems to have taken a shot of nitro. Everywhere I look I see the movement towards green solutions. To the point where the BP (which British Petroleum for those who have forgotten that KFC stands for Kentucky Fried Chicken) have on their website a "Carbon Calculator" to calculate your very own impact on the hole in the ozone layer ( Similar to Alcohol companies advising their customers to drink responsibly and Tobacco companies self restricting the sale of their product to minors, most - if not all - of the petroleum companies are taking a stand to improve the environment.

I have often pondered if the environmental trend is real or whether it is something that is orchestrated to keep idle minds busy. Is there really an environmental crisis and are we really making a difference? At a micro level, I read this interesting and somewhat amusing article in
the NY Times that looked at this issue from a neighborhood perspective. Should we be cutting down trees to use less electricity or should we be planting more trees to clean the air? These questions keep coming up. Should we use hydrogen if the production of hydrogen causes pollution? Should we use nuclear energy given the dangers of disposing of nuclear waste? Should we build hydro-electric dams given the destructive impact on the surrounding environment? Should we have that second muffin and third cup of coffee if it is going to make me crack the toilet bowl? All important and relevant questions that have no answer! So why are we wasting so much effort on it when there are problems that have real and tangible solutions.

Seriously folks, at the risk of preaching. If you are willing to give up an hour worth of electricity, what else are you going give up? Your car for a bike? Are you going to really buy solar panels instead of plugging into your city's power grid? Do you know how much energy is expended to create those panels? Are you willing to give up refrigeration for your TV dinners? are you going to give up your TV? your Internet connection? your Walmart? Because if you really want to make a difference, it will require sacrifice. Not just for Lent, but forever.

I hate to sound like an environmental atheist but environmental preservation is not for the common person. I can almost hear you hurling abuse at me as you read this blog from your 17 inch eco-friendly flat screen monitor, but for those who do not have the luxuries you and I take for granted... well lets just say, they are not going to go out and buy a Prius. In fact they will be going to work as normal in their 3-wheeled, lead-fueled, smog-mobiles in the outskirts of Mumbai or taking a sweaty smelly bus that probably has the carbon footprint of a gated community in Orange County. It is these people that make up the bulk of the human race outside the eco-bubble of Western civilization that aren't going to give a hoot about how much of Greenland is actually becoming green and won't be too upset if a species of monkey become extinct due to deforestation. They are concerned about getting to their low paying jobs on time so that they do not lose their means of feeding themselves and their family of twelve.

I know that the environment is a ticking time bomb but honestly folks, if you want to save mankind by giving something up. Start by saving people. The environment might be an inconvenient truth but it is an extremely convenient political tool to keep us preoccupied with
something that we cannot scientifically change. It is a diversion!

A diversion for what I hear you ask?

From the one thing that we can change. That /one thing/ is the exploitation of people. The disparity between the wealthy and the destitute. The exploitation of children. The prohibitive cost of providing education to those who would use it improve their communities. If we can fix these problems then perhaps we can all have the luxury of of worrying about the colour of Google.


Sigourney said...

So I say: why think so much and bother. previous generations screwed the environment for us and lifes so short anyways. of course the guilt lies at the back of the head, but... see what happens?

Dedric said...

Previous generations screwed a lot of things up...thing is they probably didn't know they were screwing it up. I guess my point is why not do something that will help someone immediately so that they have the capacity to give a s#%T. Chicken or egg? I guess I am voting chicken.