Friday, February 1, 2008

Don't even write about it

So, I haven't written in a while. This is not becausr I have a lack of things to write about. Indeed, this week was somewhat catastrophic as every week lately has been. Between the economic stimulus package (which is rather bulimic in nature), John Edwards dropping out of the presidential race (so far as I can tell, the most progressive candidate that was still running against Hopeman and Don't-Fuck-With-Me), and the makers of the "abortion pill" being linked to tainted drugs that caused paralysis to cancer patients in China this week has been really dreadful on a global scale. Not to mention the fact that this week has been really dreadful for me personally, but that is immaterial.

My absence cannot be explained by a lack of things to talk about. I have had so much to talk about that I cannot talk at all. I sat in on a forum this week about climate change and energy options for the future. Two university professors and some middle aged white male in a business suit each spoke for roughly ten minutes explaining their position. Inevitably, the middle aged white male in the business suit warned that sustainable options really aren't practical or cheap or efficient enough, so there: we'll build some more coal plants, blast the peaks of the glorious mountains away (this is rather ironic because he was against wind power as the aesthetics of the mountains might be harmed if windmills were erected), and we'll have cheap, filthy energy to power our flat screen televisions. I've really just had enough of the debate. There is no legitimate debate on this issue. Either we readjust to a new mindset in which the earth is more important than our cushy lifestyle or we live in ignorant bliss until we kill ourselves.

I am not naive any more. I used to think that if only you talked to people logically and yet passionately about the problems at hand, they would respond positively. I have learned that this is folly. I have learned that we, as a society, are motivated by cheapness, efficiency, and short term costs. End of discussion.

Take this for example: my parents think I am smart. Maybe I am. I don't feel smart, but my parents think I am. I have never given them a reason to think I am not smart. I have always done well in school, whether or not that is a good indicator of smartness, and I am inclined to think that it is not, but I digress. I am perfectionistic. I am extremely driven. Ok, so if this makes me smart, then so be it. Because I am smart my parents listen to me when I talk. They respect my words in general. But then I start to talk about climate change, saving electricity or water or resources, going green, living naturally and healthfully, they look at me as if I have sprouted a cabbage plant on the top of my head. I am suddenly not so smart, or at least that's the insinuation. They assume they know more than I do about climate change (that it isn't real) even though they've never had a class on it, never read articles about it, never even watched An Inconvenient Truth. I don't proclaim to have all the answers or to know everything about this issue. This issue is more complex than any issue I have ever come across. But goddammit I know something!

The fact that the presidential candidates on the republican side all acted like embarrassed little boys caught in the act of masturbating when asked if they believed climate change was real says a lot. A whole fucking lot. How is that a problem this huge has become a Democratic issue while the Republicans chatter away about staying in Iraq for 100 years and such nonsense. I am ashamed of my country. I am furious. How is it that something that will (and has already started to affect) everyone on this planet in some way is being touted as "crazy environmentalism?" Are all these brilliant scientists just pulling bullshit out of their asses to frustrate conservatives? WTF, man?

I am amazed at the impotence of the government in this country. We're great at sawing down trees and blasting away mountains and drilling the bejeesus out of the earth. We're fabulous at pesticiding and herbiciding and fertilizing and fumigating. We're amazing when it comes to smokestacks and creating waste and driving SUVs. We suck, s-u-c-k, when it comes to preserving the planet, and it has absolutely nothing to do with not having the technology. Eat that, motherearthfuckers.


Theresa said...

Your passion is inspiring! I'm part of the 90% reduction group, and while I haven't reduced my emissions as much as some, our household has made a good start. Whenever politicians start talking about impracticalities, I always wonder why they don't see the cheapest, most practical way of all: reduce consumption! They're afraid of this of course, because they think the economy, as they know it, would tank. But I'm done being a servant of the purveyors of cheap plastic crap and the economy that sustains them. More and more of us are done with this.

Is there a group on your campus you can connect with? The Green party here in Canada has a strong young adult movement - is there an equivalent where you are?

green with a gun said...

It's true that people are generally unresponsive. The thing is that you're presenting them with a problem which has no obvious and immediate solutions. And the problem is pretty overwhelming.

This is a teaching problem, trying to get someone else to absorb information and make use of it. We could call it propaganda or missionary work or ringing the alarm bell if you like, but it comes to the same thing - getting someone else to absorb information and make use of it.

I'm not a teacher by any means, but I've had a few experiences of teaching in my life, teaching people rules to some complex game, teaching someone how to handle a knife in a kitchen or use some machine. And what I've found is that a lot of people teaching try to teach everything at once, and it overwhelms the person and they learn nothing. Better to go step by step.

When you're passionate about something, you're more likely to overwhelm the listener with information. So it can be good for you to restrain your passion and take it step by step.

The other aspect to teaching is that it needs to match the student. For example my woman sees the environment somewhat abstractly, but has a keen appreciation of money, and of pleasures in life. So the approach I take there is to note how reducing utilities and car use saves us money and makes our lives more pleasant. And that approach works. If I blather on about carbon dioxide and methane forcing or something her eyes glaze over.

Also, you note in a later post that you'll just work on what you're doing in life. An excellent teaching method is personal example. For example, if I say to people, "we need to reduce our emissions" and they say, "man, I don't want to live in a cave," I can say, "do you see how me and my woman live? Only a quarter the consumption and emissions of the average Aussie. Are we living in a cave? What do you think of our lifestyle?" Personal example is a powerful lesson and argument.

green with a gun said...

Oh and actually, Theresa, politicians aren't always afraid to ask you to reduce consumption. You in fact had a President who appeared on telly wearing a sweater saying that you should do that more often than turning on the heating, that the US had to stop using so much oil. He even put solar panels on the White House.

You didn't re-elect him. The next guy learned the lesson, took the solar panels off the roof and spent up big. He got re-elected.

So don't be too quick to blame the political leaders. They're your elected representatives. They represent what they believe to be your wishes and your interests.