Sunday, March 30, 2008

Empty gestures

So, yeah, Earth Hour.

CHICAGO - "From the Sydney Opera House to Rome's Colosseum to the Sears Tower's famous antennas in Chicago, floodlit icons of civilization went dark Saturday for Earth Hour, a worldwide campaign to highlight the threat of climate change.

The environmental group WWF urged governments, businesses and households to turn back to candle power for at least 60 minutes starting at 8 p.m. wherever they were.
The campaign began last year in Australia, and traveled this year from the South Pacific to Europe to North America in cadence with the setting of the sun.

'What's amazing is that it's transcending political boundaries and happening in places like China, Vietnam, Papua New Guinea,' said Andy Ridley, executive director of Earth Hour. 'It really seems to have resonated with anybody and everybody.'

Earth Hour officials hoped 100 million people would turn off their nonessential lights and electronic goods for the hour. Electricity plants produce greenhouse gases that fuel climate change."

Right. Now, I have no problem with this gesture in theory. Any conservation is good and I suppose it could have 'raised awareness'. But here's my thing. What good is raising folks's awareness of anything: pollution, wildlife endangerment, climate change, cancer, etc if the people in question do nothing about it?

How many millions of people read the newspaper every single day, about things that they themselves could help change with almost no effort, and say: "Wow, that's a damned shame" then take another bite of toast and turn the page?

To me, Earth Hour is like a person who knows she's too fat so she says; "I'm obese! It is affecting my health! Today, I shall not eat ANY fast food!"

This sort of thing is tailor made by the ineffectual activist ("sign the online petition!") for the self-indulgent ("My plastic water bottles and disposable diapers ARE stuffing our landfills full, but I carry them to my SUV in an unbleached hemp tote!") to make them feel better about themselves. A way for the normally wasteful to balm their wee consciences with an hour of darkness before switching back on every telly in the house and firing up the Wii and anxiously checking the temp on their wine refrigerators.

So, no, I didn't turn my power off. I had no intentions of doing so.

Oh, Blue, aren't you concerned about the environment? About the polar bears?!


I do three times more conservation of energy than the average person. This isn't a brag. If you read this blog regularly, you know it's just my chosen lifestyle.

Emphasis on chosen.

Why? I dunno. It just makes sense to me. I have an almost pathological loathing of waste. Why would you throw perfectly good clothes away when you can donate them? Why would you buy individually packaged food when you can divide up large packages? Why would you uses a clothes dryer so everything has that slimey softener feel and sickening fragrance? Why would you buy a monsterous SUV for your family of three? Why would you want to build a 400k McMansion 3 feet away from two almost identical McMansions in a neighbourhood where they tell what sort of post box you are required to put up? Why would you use snack sized ziplock bags, period?

These and other questions ...

But, seriously, it comes down to choices. We choose to do or not do, and that's cool. For myself, I'd MUCH rather spend my cash buying Zesto's ice cream cones and eating them in the park with my children than spend my cash for plastic nappies that will still be yucking up this planet when my grandkids have kids. I'd rather mush up the peas we're having for supper to feed to my baby than spend 50c on a ridiculous wee jar of the exact same thing from the store.

We all decide what sort of lifestyle we want to live and if yours is making you feel guilty about the environment then bloody well do something about it. Not some empty, quick gesture, but Some. Actual. Thing. Turn the heat down. Wash some dishes in the sink. Combine trips into town. Take your lunch. Recycle those newspapers and cans.

Conservation is no different from saving money or losing weight or supporting a cause like curing cancer or feeding the poor. You must actively participate. Sensational gestures without follow-up lifestyle changes amount to no more than signing online petitions. They soothe the guilty conscience and otherwise do ... nothing.

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posted by MrsEvilGenius @ 4:49 am   1 comments


At 6:48 pm, Blogger Mrs. Chili said...

The thing is that there are SO many things - painless things; little things - that one can do to make a difference. Seriously; if everyone just did something LITTLE - consistently - we'd be in a much better place.


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