Sunday, October 02, 2005

MAKING CONSERVATION COOL

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By Elaine Meinel Supkis

When the subject of the coming energy collapse as we finally careen over the top of the Hubbert Oil Peak and begin the relentless slide down the other side, we will probably sacrifice everything we built up over the last several thousand years in a desperate push to steal the last of the oil and control the downside so we can continue living the reckless, foolish lives we are living today, protected by a huge energy/technology bubble.

The downside of this bubble is obvious. We are fat and ugly, for the most part. Legions of people visit gyms to exercise to keep from turning into a ball of blubber but still, the technology/energy bubble takes its toll. Worse, it is killing our ecosystem and the side effects of this are obvious, too. The destructive powers of ecosystem change for the worse will of course annihilate our cities and kill us.

But we just might do it ourselves in bitter desperation, kill off our cities in a massive nuclear war!

So what is the analysis in the mainstream press about all this? How about this insanity: From the NYT:
WHEN President Bush told his staff last week to carpool or take the bus, because conservation could help alleviate the pain of hurricane-caused oil shortages, some cynics wondered: Would the country accept the challenge?
Eh? Bubble Boy's bubble is the most energy intensive on this planet. An entire Praetorian guard has to surround him for even tiny side trips. They have to move snipers on roofs, clear out all the former citizens of this stupid police state, remove all people from looking out of windows, they have a platoon of armored vehicles that race along getting about 2 mpg...and he tells us to conserve.

I happen to remember Jimmy Carter, the man who flew on regular planes quite often, the guy who walked to many places in DC and elsewhere. He actually believed in conserving and put solar energy panels on the WH which the GOP tore off again.
Still, the inspirational value of a sudden policy swivel, however grand, goes only so far. According to advertising executives, environmentalists and cultural critics, conservation can become a movement large enough to influence world energy markets only if it becomes hip, fashionable, something that teenagers, chief executives and celebrities from New York to Dallas to Los Angeles can't help but do.
Look, morons, LA is an ecological/social disaster area. One massive earthquake away from Armaggeddon and a top nuclear target, to boot. Mother Nature doesn't give a fig about "hip" or whatever, She does what She has to do and we have to please Her, not the other way around.

There is nothing at all hip in being sane and careful. It ain't "sexy" or "rad" or whatever, it is life and death. And although many worship the Devil that is Death and think this is just too cool, the Death Devil works for Mother Nature, not us. It would dearly love to scythe away 90% of humanity because we have unbalanced nature. If we want to populate this and other planets, we have to learn how to do this without destroying the very same ecosystem that sustains us. This is "duh" time.

Thanks to cheap energy and the technological bubble we live in, we can ignore, say, air pollution. Just turn on that airconditioner and ride in a sealed car and dash into a sealed commercial building and viola! You never notice the destructive, foul air. So what if the trees are dying? You are in a bubble and safe and happy.
"It has to be grass-roots driven," said Sharon Lee, a founder of Look-Look Inc., a market research firm in Los Angeles that focuses on youth culture, "and you have to allow people to participate in fun, creative ways. Maybe one day, if you bring your own cup to a coffee shop, you get 10 percent off because you saved the Styrofoam. And the next day they can do something else."

Businesses, political leaders and conservationists must spawn a wide range of options, she said. The oilman in Texas may not want to give up his S.U.V., so perhaps he could earn free baseball tickets by composting instead. For the urban hipster who already drives a hybrid vehicle, there could be a Web site with advice on how to lead a project attaching solar panels to office buildings.
"You have to fit their interests and how they participate," Ms. Lee said. "The worst thing you can do is take an open person and say they're not part of this community if they don't do this one act."

In other words, environmentalists need to be less preachy. Mark Katz, a humorist and former speech writer for President Bill Clinton, said Americans might be more willing to take up conservation if they could first laugh at their own consumption. His suggestion is a bumper sticker for S.U.V.'s that reads, "My third car is a Prius," a reference to Toyota's popular electric hybrid vehicle.
Note how the people in this story assume we have choices! Indeed, this is the highest level of insanity. Note how the hyper-consuming American "conserves" by boasting about how cool he is to have THREE cars! Billions, yes, billions of humans have no cars at all. In another 50 years, we will be part of those billions. There is no future for the gas car. Nor will they be replaced with faster, hotter, fancier cars. They will be replaced with RICKSHAWS drawn by humans!

The environmental movement has always been whipsawed by this urge to cutsiefy the coming crisis, pretending that if we do tiny, usless moves, the coming ecological/energy disaster won't happen. This nickle and dime-ing of the environmental movement has pretty much killed it. Many people think, all they have to do is not do one tiny thing when that isn't even scratching the surface.

We are collectively not only dying from living in the bubble we made, the bubble is collapsing. Look at it! People can't live in the deep south without this bubble, nor can they live in the north or anywhere. Anyone here ever live cheek and jowl with Nature in the raw?

I have. For years. Without electricity, without running water, without nearly all modern technology. I am tough, I know a great deal of information like how to train and raise and use an ox team. Or horses. Or handshear sheep. Or make bread from scratch including hand grinding the wheat. Yes, I have a hand grinder. I have all sorts of old tools which I know how to use, my husband knows how to use. Two man handsaws, axes, adzes, hand drills, all sorts of stuff.

And guess what? These skills will be needed in the future. Know how to raise bees? It will reassert itself as an important survival skill, trust me. Know how to raise a garden? Most people don't know squat now, they know what is on TV and what everyone is talking about which is usually garbage that is meaningless.

A million Americans have lost their homes and most of the country is concerned with only one thing: keeping this wild, cool, sexy party going no matter what. Well, guess what? Your home just might be next. Whole communities will be rendered unliveable and unuseable in the not too distant future.
"You have to be self-deprecating," said Mr. Favat, who created an advertising campaign for Timberland featuring a magazine insert that could be planted, sprouting wildflowers. "Use irony or humor or satire to capture peoples' imagination. Nothing will be cool if you take yourself too seriously."
Hell's bells, I am not cool, I am burning hot. Flaming like the sun. A consumer magazine handing out flower seeds isn't going to do squat diddley.

My whole mountain writhed with pain this summer because of the excessive heat/lack of rain. It made me totally frantic, I live in what is supposed to be the temperate zone! Not Arizona! The seeds, if I sowed them, would have withered and died! Ecology isn't about grandiose, useless gestures. It is about understanding nature and working hand in hand with Her so we don't all die!

And preachy?

Noah was preachy, too, according to the Bible.

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