I’m Glad Earth Week is Over

April 26, 2010

You heard me.  I’m glad Earth Week is over.

Now I can get back to my regular routine of destroying the Earth with only the normal heaping of guilt on my head.

Here’s the thing.  I care about the Earth.  I care about being a good steward, and all that jazz.  I recycle, and I dump only minimal amounts of toxic waste into my local lake.  I care about justice and trying to be less of a lazy, stupid American.  But if there was one movement that could stand toe to toe with the fervent zeal of the most evangelical churches today, it’s environmentalism.

And every year, Earth Week is environmentalism’s high holy week.  For a few days, people pretend that the environment is super-important to them, so we make a few little sacrifices to make ourselves feel like we’re making a difference, and then we forget about it by May.  Sounds a lot like Lent and Easter, come to think of it.

And while all this grand celebration is taking place, and Mother Earth is being worshipped and the offerings are being laid at the altar, and everyone’s working themselves into a frenzy about the need to save the earth, I can’t help feel a little left out…

…because I’m a doubter.

And if doubt is somewhat unacceptable in church, it’s blasphemy in the church of environmentalism. 

But I’ve got to get this off my chest.  I’m a global warming doubter.  And if there’s one cause that’s risen above the rest in environmentalism, it’s global warming.

I’ll give you that the climate may be changing.  In fact it’s probably changing, because it sort of has a history of doing it all the time.  But I doubt the part about humans being the primary cause of it, or the idea that humans can make much of a difference to fight it if it’s natural.  I won’t get into why I doubt.  I suppose it’s for the same reason some people doubt the church’s message.  But like some atheists, I feel I can be good to the earth without believing that the Earth is going to hell.

If you believe in global warming, fine.  I’m not going to try to convince you otherwise.  I admire your zeal.

But after a week of Earth worship, I can think of a few things worse than global warming.

Three Things Worse Than Global Warming

The phrase, “People have been noticing the climate changing…”

With all due respect, no they haven’t.  Humanity is in a constant state of severe attention-deficit-disorder, and people have very short memories.  American sitcoms last barely 22 minutes.  The climate takes a long time to change.  There’s no way people have paid attention long enough to notice anything.  They’ve just convinced themselves they’re seeing the climate change.

I can name for you one time people did notice the climate change, and it actually was (partly) the humans’ fault:  the dust bowl.  The dust bowl was real environmental change.  If I were a grandma today, I’d just be laughing my wrinkly old butt off at all those dang hippies who think they’ve wrecked the Earth.  Then I’d shake my cane at them and say, “Back in my day, young people knew how to cause a dat-gum decent environmental disaster!  Now take off that stocking cap and get a job!”

This last winter was pretty bad.  It snowed a lot.  And everywhere I went, I heard people comment on how much snow was falling.  To which I had one thing to say:

“Dear God, it’s snowing?  In the middle of winter?  May God have mercy on us all.”

All week I watched as my students at school were pumped full of stories about their parents noticing the climate changing.  There was actually a nationwide podcast of a live-action Magic School Bus with a very poor excuse for a Ms. Frizzle saying those words verbatim.  I have always wanted to punch Ms. Frizzle in the face, but never this much.

This reminds me of the second thing that’s worse than global warming.

Volcanoes

Hummers are huge wasteful vehicles.  There is technically no reason any citizen would ever need to purchase a modified military vehicle for the purposes of filling with groceries.  Whenever I see a Hummer on the road, while I’m driving in my tiny Ford Escort, I always picture the driver as a soccer mom on her way home from a pet store with a big box of kittens…Kittens which she will load into the catapault she has in her front yard in order to hurl the kittens at oncoming traffic.  She does this because she hates nature, and that’s why she drives a Hummer in the first place.  If you drive a Hummer, please prove me wrong.

While I think Hummers are ridiculous, I support your right to waste your money on Hummers, cheap beer and NASCAR tickets.  I waste my money on all sorts of things you would probably call ridiculous. 

But you know what’s way more wasteful than Hummers?  Volcanoes.  Seriously, where is Greenpeace on this?  Volcanoes are huge environmental disasters.  Last time that volcano in Iceland erupted, it polluted the air for a year.  Are we just going to sit back and let it do that again?  Get Tommy Lee Jones to stop it, or sacrifice a virgin, or get someone over there to plug that thing up.  Maybe dump all the Hummers in it or something…or all the DVD copies of Volcano.  Man, what a terrible movie.

Volcanoes to me are like God looking at every Hummer owner and saying, “You call that wrecking the climate?  Watch this.”

Oh yeah, speaking of Volcano…

Environmentally Themed Movies

Okay, we get it.  Save the earth.  Don’t drink out of plastic bottles, stop using toilet paper, whatever.  Most environmentally themed movies are pretty dumb anyway.  But once in a while, a movie seems decent.  Then they sneak it in there.  Matt, YOU are killing the Earth!  Then you’re going to get told that you need to take action, or at least blame someone else for not taking action.

Case in point: Avatar.  Totally over the top in it’s anti-American environmental message, and it’s prominent featuring of Sigourney Weaver as a blue cat woman.  Heck, they even released the DVD on Earth Day.  You know, James Cameron, DVDs aren’t biodegradable.  Nice job, Captain Planet. 

If movie makers aren’t careful, their environmentally themed movies may become almost as ham-fisted as Christian movies.

Okay, I’ve said it all.  I don’t hate the Earth.  I’m just the guy who doesn’t want a religious tract on environmentalism.  Can I go back to just trying to be a good steward now?

What about you?  Are you a tree hugger?  A global warming preacher or doubter?  Do you drive a Hummer, or are you trying to do something good for the planet without being caught up in the hype?

36 responses to I’m Glad Earth Week is Over

  1. Not sure I agree with you on everything, but I totally understand whee you are coming from. But on the whole Avatar thing, dude did you not know that it had nothing to do with environmentalism, but that it was rather Demonic Paganism and here I thought it was just a 3D blue version of Pocahontas.

  2. I figure regardless of whether and why its warming a lot of what we are doing is not particularly healthy and could use some change. Fossil fuels tend to pump a whole lot of junk into the air that’s not great to breathe. Our gas/petrol supplies won’t last forever. Keeping forests intact is a great idea. The bottled water industry is incredibly wasteful ect.

    I am sick of all the tokenism. If you want to have the right to tell the world about all the good things you’ve done for the environment, actually do something meaningful. Earth hour is a joke. They probably waste more energy on creating and printing promotional materials for it than they save by having some people turn off their lights for an hour. Maybe instead of self righteously buying stuff that has some recycled ingredients, just don’t buy the unnecessary stuff.

    And yes, what’s with the hide and seek submit button.

  3. I do hope you realize that Earth Day is about a lot more than global warming… in fact it started before any threat (real or imagined) of global warming existed. Rivers, lakes and oceans are being polluted, so is our atmosphere (regardless of whether you consider CO2 a pollutant). Forests are being destroyed. People litter like crazy. There’s still plenty that can be done to be a good steward without starting in on global warming.

    By the way, here’s some data about volcanic emissions worth considering: The Eyjafjallajoekull eruption actually caused less CO2 to be emitted due to all the canceled flights: http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/2010/correction-apology-planes-or-volcano/

  4. It is just one more: them vs. us argument. We are good stewards. We recycle, drive fuel efficient cars and stopped eating beans to reduce green house gasses over Boston.

    You were spot on about how people receive the message of salvation, and the message of Global warming. The difference is that the Ice Age ended with global warming and it appears that we are going through it again. And Jesus IS coming back.

    When I was in grade school they said we could have another ice age – same pot smoking hippy scientists; promoters of new age, that I see walking to work to save the environment. All bad choices in my book –

    Messages that are hyped are shallow. It seems to be a spiritual principal.

    If we really wanted to do something about the environment, we would have given Detroit a tax free year to create an all electric car that sells at $15K. Why? So we could get off of oil for the environment, for national security and we might have saved the bailouts. Solar and wind power are excellent options for most of the world. But it’s drill baby drill.

    Theory has replaced fact. But for now it’s E Marijuana Unum.

    • Tandemingtroll April 26, 2010 at 8:30 am

      I will add to David’s testimony that, when I was a kid the Midwest was being hit with several winters in a row of snowstorms so big that halfway through winter we were making snow caves so big you could almost stand up as well as snow roller coasters, snow forts and snowmen with nary a dent in the snow. At that time, the Chicago weatherman on ABC had a series talking about a potentially new ice age.

      I also just read somewhere that the last time an Iceland volcano erupted was during our Revolution causing such horribly cool summers that crops couldn’t grow in Europe.

      • The Laki eruptions in 1783 led to several years of wild weather in Europe, punctuated by extremely warm summers complete with American-style severe weather and severely cold winters.

        The volcanic eruption most people talk about causing cool summers was the Mt. Tambora eruption of 1815. 1816 was known as the Year Without a Summer because global temperatures dropped 0.5 (C). Frost was recorded in Connecticut in July (July!) of that year.

        Don’t mind me, I’m just a teacher certified in earth science, among other things. :^)

  5. For some reason, the ham-fisted movies are sometimes my favorites. We watch “The Day After Tomorrow” all the time and what was that one where the two kids go into the old B&W TV show and it changes into colors gradually as people start having affairs and “finding themselves?” That one was so bad, I just had to laugh or else I’d cry. Kinda like “Armageddon.”

    I think that environmentalism is an attempt to fill the void left when we take out God. We were _made_ to worship, but if we believe that there is no creator, then all that’s left to worship is the creation. When there is no one to whom we are ultimately responsible, then we set ourselves up as saviours.

    All the same, we were given stewardship over the Earth (stewardship does _NOT_ just pertain to money, despite its common usage in churches today). While I’m not too concerned about the next ice age or the ice caps melting, I do want to take care of the Earth that God has placed in my care. If nothing else, quite often the “environmentally-friendly” option is also healthier for me and my family.

  6. I really loved Avatar. Totally wanted all the big bad Americans to get destroyed by gigantic bird things. It reminded me of what “we” did to the Native Americans when we came to America. “Hey, you don’t speak our language, and we are more ‘modern’ than you so we win.”

    I’m a fan of Earth too. I totally leave lights on in rooms I am not in to the detriment of my marriage, but I do try to have at least one home day a week where I don’t drive anywhere, and I use those reusable bags at the grocery store 30 percent of the time. It’s all about the baby steps.

  7. Tandemingtroll April 26, 2010 at 8:45 am

    I also believe that we should be good stewards of the earth. I use cloth napkins and try to limit my paper towel consumption and use environmentally friendly cleaners like baking soda for housecleaning and eco friendly detergents. However, the best way to be a good steward is to simply consume less. If everyone went to bed when it became dark and turned off all the lights in the buildings and parking lots, wouldn’t we use up a lot less electricity? Can fruits and vegetables yourself in glass jars that you can re-use rather than going to the stores and buying aluminum? Use crock pots and bread machines that use less electricity than ovens? Of course, that sounds great but it would take us back a couple of centuries or so technologically. Ban disposable diapers, which is my biggest environmental sin, based on having four kids and using them exclusively because I still have nightmares about the dirty diaper bucket in my brother’s room. In case you are unaware of what that is, it was a bucket filled with water and, what I laughingly refer to as a odor eliminator. It was a temporary resting place of all used cloth diapers before they were to be cleaned and ready for re-use. The smell that emenated from it could be used as an alternative to waterboarding.

  8. Well, considering the nature of Eyjafjallajökull’s eruption, it never was going to emit a lot of CO2 (magma-heavy venting), but it was going to dump a massive amount of ash and particulates into the atmosphere, especially since the volcano was topped with a glacier, allowing for the magma to cool into ash before being ejected. IIRC, I read a report that the eruption has sent around 150 cubic metres of particulates into the atmosphere. That kind of makes it a bit more of a pollutant than all of those airplanes.

    Anyway, I tend to be a bit of a conservationist by default, but I completely agree with the comment that Earth Day is the culmination of a quasi-religious celebration by environmentalists, complete with festivals, gift-giving, and preaching by its high priests. Naturally, it’s become a big deal in education, especially in elementary schools where it’s celebrated way too much, and often in silly ways. As a blogging buddy of mine pointed out, her daughter had a homework assignment where she had to write a letter of apology for harming the earth by being polluters. Classy.

  9. I love Top Gear, and I wonder if by just watching I am contributing to pollution..

    ..but super cars are so pretty and there ain’t much good-looking environmentally friendly cars around.

  10. [smiles] I love your posts, Matt. They totally make me smile.

    ~Luke

  11. Not a tree hugger, but a global warming doubter. I do recycle and have cut back on drinking out of plastic bottles. I use the reusable canvas bags for grocery shopping not because I’m all warm and fuzzy about trees but because they’re easier to carry and they hold more. I grow my own vegetables in the summer (organically) because they taste better and I like the sense of accomplishment. I’m not keen on the “buy local” malarky because big farming has actually been proven to be more efficient. (And I’m sure the local farmers have a study to prove otherwise.) I don’t drive a Hummer, but I do drive a 10-year-old Jeep. I justify that by just driving around 4,000 miles a year. Besides, my husband and I cut down on our so-called “carbon footprint” by not having children. Let’s see if the tree huggers can top that one!

  12. Volcanoes are godless killing machines and they must be stopped.

    That being said, I’m not a GW doubter personally. But that’s probably because I like science. *passive aggressive slight* 😉

    I am however right on with you about the religiosity surrounding the environmentalist movement.

    I suppose that people really do crave some kind of guilt ridden religious system to build their life around. Whether we make it the church of environmentalism or loosely base it around the concept of God.

    Sad when you think about it, so I won’t. Damn those volcanoes!

  13. I care about the earth, I stopped dumping my used motor oil in the Chesapeake bay years ago. No but seriously, I think those tree huggers are pretty paranoid. I remember one time talking with someone who, no matter what you did, you were killing the planet. What? You’re breathing? There won’t be any air left for your grand children, type kind of thinking.

    I think of our resources kind of like the food at a wedding, no matter how many people you have versus the ratio of food, you always have enough because people instinctively ration the food. People driving Hummers don’t bother me because they can drive whatever they want. They bought it, they use their money to pay for the gas, go ahead sir, fill up your 50 gallon tank.

    I do little things, this year I started a garden, so I guess that would save on bags being used on those veggies, I made a compost pile and we put the coffee grinds in, pour left over coffee, skins of fruits and veggies, etc. Other than that, I don’t do anything else. I have a lot more to say but I don’t feel like complaining about it.

    nicodemusatnite.blogspot.com

  14. You forgot about cow farts. Cow farts are also killing the earth much faster than we are. Love it.

  15. Okay, just something interesting I noticed as I read, “If I were a grandma today, I’d just be laughing my wrinkly old butt off at all those dang hippies who think they’ve wrecked the Earth.”

    Just wondering why in your hypothetical you would be a grandma and not a grandpa? Is there something you’re not telling us Matt?

  16. If you forsake the idea of a personal God with a mission that we are made to join, what do you do with your time? If you want to feel good about yourself then you can tell yourself that the world is in danger and if you don’t do something it will be destroyed. Heck church people tend to do that too only its the whole “if we don’t stop (insert liberal agenda item here) then God is going to remove his protection(ozone layer?) from America!”

    I’m glad there are people out there working hard for environmental responsibility, but they really come across as crazy.

    Maybe that’s how “outsiders” feel about church folk. “Like, I’m glad those church people care about my soul and all, but their tactics and stuff make them seem loony.”

    Hmmm. I’ve given myself something very interesting to think about…

  17. Avatar = FernGully

  18. I don’t drive a Hummer (a little too pretentious, for me). However, I do drive a GMC Yukon XL. Not sure if that’s any more “earth friendly” (or any less pretentious, for that matter), but with 4 children (3 of them, growing boys), we kind of need the room. That’s my story/excuse, and I’m sticking to it! 😉

  19. That’s too funny. I’m a bit of a skeptic myself, but I thought it was weird that you and I had the same thought about the Avatar DVD release on Earth Day. :)

  20. First, I will admit that I am a treehugger…

    Second, I am with Matt and glad that Earth week is over…

    I wish everyone would stop talking about global warming/climate change. It drives me nuts when people who care about the environment take up a single cause like it is the one thing that will save the planet (save the whales, no more HMMWV, plant a tree, etc.) – it doesn’t work that way. Everything is interconnected – God made it that way.

    Where I fall, is by not following God’s commands. Jesus summed it up very simply: Love God, and Love Your Neighbor. When I make a choice about what I eat, or what I buy, or whether I drive, I am impacting everyone around me. It can be good or bad. A lot of my decisions also affect people a long way from me – those making the “cheap” stuff I buy or the places where my waste goes into the ground.

    Each decision I make is a chance for me to make a difference. With each choice comes a number of trade-offs, and all I can do is make the very best decision I can. Because I love God, I will do everything I can to love my neighbors.

  21. Jehovah’s Witnesses recently attacked me as I was exiting my car in the TJ Maxx parking lot and shoved a pamphlet about Global Warming/JW Beliefs into my hands.

    I thought there would be more about the Christian school of thought on Global Warming, since we aren’t supposed to be concerned with worldly things and whatnot.

  22. I wonder if the only reason global warming has been the one of the only threats scary enough to cause political action is because it’s painted as a VERY imminent threat to our survival as a species. People are far less likely act responsibly just because it’s the right thing to do–unfortunately, it seems like you have to threaten them.

    We all understand that it’s a good thing to emit less CO2 into our atmosphere, because breathing the stuff is bad for you. No one can argue with that. But people probably won’t care unless you get a little overzealous about it. I think (recent–last 150 years) global warming is real and has anthropogenic causes, but I think maybe the arguments for it have been overplayed and some have crossed into the category of obscure and annoying because no one will ever get anyone’s attention otherwise.

    P.S. I can’t be the only one who thinks that Ms. Frizzle person in that picture looks like he/she is in drag. Just sayin.

  23. According to Freakonomics, cow’s flatulence contributes a whole bunch of methane into the atmosphere which supposedly contributes to a whole bunch of GGEs which supposedly contributes to global warming. Apparently, if we start eating Kangaroo, who don’t fart methane, and stop buying beef, we’d be on our way to a nice cold planet again. FYI – according to them, using hybrid to drive to the store to buy beef actually negates the GGEs saved by using the hybrid.

    On a side note, the AP reported that Gore’s TN home consumed more than 12 times the amount of electricity as compared to a typical household in that area. Interesting.

    Basically, I think the whole thing is ridiculous. Historically speaking, weather has changed dramatically. There are notable cycles. It has been researched. People who do not believe aren’t stupid, they just don’t believe everything the media feeds them.

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