Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Trouble With Environmentalism

Teaching grade 7 science is pretty cool 'cause it's my job to go on and on about habitat loss, biodiversity, global warming, human waste due to consumerism etc etc. i sometimes worry that i'm a bit too doom and gloom for my students (there's only 3 dudes in this int'l class), but they seem to handle it fine, and seem to be on board w/ whatever i'm harping on for the day.

Anyhow, one of the results of teaching this stuff is that i'm kinda constantly obsessing about the environment. Like more than usual even. My contempt for auto vehicles always creates tension when Heather wants to catch a cab somewhere on a Friday night. My concern for the amounts of jet fuel burned every moment is making me reconsider my planned trip to India. (Can i handle a week on the train?)

Everywhere you go in BJ you see people who can't be bothered to differentiate between the garbage and the adjacent recycling bin. People and businesses who normalize the tossing of plastic bags, wrappers, and utensils on the street when they're done with them.

This all messes with my equanimity the same way as dudes who piss all over the floor by the urinals.

But here's the thing.

These uneducated litterers who do heaven knows what else to the environment are assuredly having less impact on the planet than yours truly. Good ol' statusq preaches the word awfully well, but he's flown all over the planet, bought tons of stuff which had been manufactured all over the f'ing place and shipped to hell and back before he used and sent it off to the landfill site.

So he wrote some articles promoting the colour green. That's good.

He worked promoting organic foods for a couple years. That's good.

But it's painfully obvious that in 33 yrs of living as a traveling, earning, buying, and disposing Canadian he's had way more impact than some $2000/yr-earning labourer who litters and pours Draino in the river.

On one hand, yes i deserve to be happy as much as anyone on the planet.
But on the other, i sure don't deserve more than anyone else.

And i keep thinking back to that annoying stat about how if everyone lived like an American we'd need 5 planets. Everybody's entitled to some of the planet's resources, and i guiltily suspect that i've already taken more than my fair cut. So does that mean that i deserve zero resources from here on out? Shit, that'd kinda suck.

Has anyone out there sorted out this conundrum yet? I feel kinda locked into this lifestyle of travel, technology, eating non-local foods, etc etc.

Yesterday i bought a sub-woofer. Turns out it won't work w/ the stereo, which is annoying but i'll keep it anyways for the computer. Thanks for the oil for the plastic, Afghanistan! Thanks military defenders! Thanks underpaid labourers! Thanks friendly trade-facilitating governments! Thanks corporations! Thanks for keeping wages and benefits low to keep prices down! Thanks, animals and insects and bacteria who gave up their habitats and lives! Thanks to the clerks! Thanks to the employees who told me that my stereo could use a sub-woofer when it can't!

And now this Clap Your Hands Say Yeah song sounds so grooooovy!

No comments: