How to Celebrate Earth Day

April 20, 2011

I love the earth.

I may have given the impression otherwise.  I’ve confessed that I’m an agnostic when it comes to global warming.  I’ll admit that I’m not a tree hugger.  In fact, the thought of a rabid tree hugger often makes me want to kick a tree right in the crotch, just so those trees don’t start thinking too highly of themselves.

But I do think we ought to take care of the earth.  And I hate to see people giving environmentalism a bad name by shamelessly advertising their “compassion” for the earth while really doing nothing.  Environmentalism is like an accessory to most people, like a Livestrong bracelet.

Of course, there are a ton of cliché methods to commemorate Earth Day.  However, instead of planting a tree, I’ve got three suggestions for how you can celebrate this Earth Day on Friday and “Green Week” until then!

Buy More Gasoline

A couple of weeks ago, I got an invitation on Facebook to not buy any gas on April 15.  The idea was to “send a message” to evil oil corporations.  That’s cute.  I’m sure if the message got relayed to any oil executives, they’d be really moved by our feeble attempt to not buy their product.

If you like wasting your time on meaningless shows of “solidarity,” then go ahead and be a noob.  If not, consider this:

Even if we all did it, not buying gas for one day does nothing to lower gas prices.  Gas doesn’t follow the laws of supply and demand.  It follows the law of speculation.  Speculators know that even if you summon the mighty will power, fueled by righteous indignation, to not buy gas for one day, you’ll have to buy gas eventually.  Thus, you did nothing to actually lower demand, and you proved nothing.

Besides that, gasoline is just a small part of oil demand.  If your home ever catches fire, you will be dead.  Know why?  Because everything in your house is made of oil.  Your carpet, your refrigerator, your TV, your home’s siding and windows, the fertilizer in your yard, your computer, your food containers, your pillows, your toothbrush.  You are living in a barrel of oil.  Gasoline is literally a drop in the bucket.

Every year, everyone gets mad as hell about gas prices, but we always act like a bunch of chumps and don’t do anything about it.  Then prices go down, and we forget about it.  I’m going to the gas pump this week.  I’m going to get mad about it, and then I’m going to make the same meaningless gesture I make each month: write my Congressmen and tell them I’m going to campaign for their opponents.

Eat a Burger

People say that cow farts are killing the earth, and maybe that’s true.  Methane is ten times worse than carbon dioxide.  So we shouldn’t eat hamburgers, goes the logic.  We should eat some less farty animal.  Like peacocks.

How many cattle live in the U.S.?  If you guessed about 98 million, you’d be right.  That’s a lot of bovine backdraft polluting my air.

But no one ever asks how many cows live outside the evil gluttonous United States of McDonald’s.  Would you guess that China has 130 million cattle, or that Africa has 230 million, or that India alone has 280 million cattle?  None of those Indian cows are even being eaten!  They just live their whole holy lives, eating and farting.  Africans use cows as currency!

If you want to eat veggie burgers for your health, go ahead.  I love veggie burgers.  But if you’re doing it it to “save the planet,” you’re just making another meaningless gesture.  You can say that every little bit makes a difference.  I say it makes no difference, except to your ego.

Keep Your Thermostat Right Where It’s At

We’re told that to save the planet, we have to turn our thermostats up or down to cut energy use.  Now I will grant you this: most public places are blasting the AC.  68 degrees is not a normal summer temperature.  I think they’re trying to keep the unwashed masses from fermenting or something.  A little deodorant in August would go a long way to solve that, people.

But last year, the United Nations shut down their AC over a weekend.  How sweet.  I think a few of the international delegates also opened a lemonade stand out front to “raise money to save Earth.”

Except the UN building is a giant glass greenhouse with no opening windows. Do you know how much energy they wasted with the AC working overtime getting the building back to a comfortable temperature?  You’d think a chimp had thought of this idea.  So turn your thermostat up a few degrees at night this summer and keep the windows shut.  But think twice before switching it off altogether.

Before you think that I don’t do anything to help the planet, I want you to know that I am turning my TV off this week…during NBC’s “green” themed comedy lineup.  How’s that for a meaningless gesture?  Oh, I’m also going to start recycling rocks.  Nobody’s talking about de-rockification of our natural rock resources.

I’m all for being environmentally friendly, as long as it’s not just a sanctimonious show of self-congratulating, which is what the environmental Pharisees are so good at.  What do you think?  Do we have an added duty as Christians to be environmentalists?  What do you do that actually makes a difference?

49 responses to How to Celebrate Earth Day

  1. Hi Matt,

    I am vitally concerned about Saving The Whales!

    I have not harpooned a single one this week.


  2. “So we shouldn’t eat hamburgers, goes the logic. We should eat some less farty animal. Like peacocks.
    How many cattle live in the U.S.? If you guessed about 98 million, you’d be right. That’s a lot of bovine backdraft polluting my air.” <— THAT made me laugh SO hard!

    Hmmm… as for what I'm doing for the environment… well, I watered my bamboo plant this morning. That has to count for something… :)
    heather joy recently posted..Book Giveaway- click here for details!

  3. If you’re an agnostic when it coems to global warming, I suppose that makes me an atheist. I survived global cooling in the 1970s. Now, as then, it seems that climate change has more to do with politics and worldviews.
    Glynn recently posted..Its an Adventure!

  4. Yeah, I think we should take care of the earth. But I don’t think it’s anything outrageous. Simple logic really. Like not dumping my used motor oil in the woods.

    I get those stupid FB invites to not buy gas for one day and I’m with you Matt. One day isn’t going to do anything. My biggest argument to people who complain about high gas prices is just don’t drive. They usually come back with, “That’s impossible, I have to go to work, errands, etc.” Well, then you have to pay the gas prices, quit complaining.

    Personally we compost and I’m doing a garden this year. Is it making a global difference? I doubt it. It helps my family because it’s less trash going to the dump and we’re eating veggies without pesticides.

    How about we worry about our own family for a change instead of trying to change everybody else. It’s less stressful that way too.

    Good points Matt.
    Charlie Chang recently posted..282 Piecing the wagon together

  5. I always find it funny when people say that we are killing the earth. Though I’m a proponent of being a good steward of the earth, I will not be staying up late at contemplating how my double-flush is reeking havoc in Honduras. I blame my substandard toilet as well as my high-fiber diet.

    Anytime you worship the created over the creator you are going to have massive problems. Have you ever met a militant “tree-huger”, or one of those PETA-Nazi’s that wasn’t out of their ever loving minds? Heck these people would put a shank in you if they saw you blaspheming a piece of bark, or bragging about the tasty chicken sandwich you just ate.

    We are living in a broken, but beautiful world. Anytime I start thinking too much about global issues I always think of those poor folks that were dwelling around/near Mount Vasuvious. Even then I’m sure there was “that guy” that was telling people that burning caustic materials was bad for the environment. Of course, maybe he was right?

    Great post,
    mark recently posted..What idols do you worship

  6. Thanks for the laughs, Matt!

    I am with you. The freakin’ Ice Age ended with global warning! Maybe due to woolly mammoth farts, I don’t know.

    In the 60’s and 70’s we were told by the same pot smoking scientists that there was empirical evidence that we would have another Ice Age and the trend was well on its way. I was dreaming of polar bear hunting in the Caribbean for the year 2000.

    We could get off a lot of foreign oil if we would do something about energy! The problem is that there is HUGE money in oil, and politicians want a 2 year solution, like drilling oil in downtown St. Louis. BTW – neither party has filed legislation in the year following the BP disaster in the Gulf to make it safer for the rigs and the shrimps.

    We have done little in comparison to oil to harness wind and solar, and until we do, the price of it will be prohibitive. The Cape Cod Wind Farm (first offshore US wind farm)is a joke and political football. More payoffs to the bluest state politicians.

    Nukes? Can you say Japan? Again, no legislation by either party.

    In terms of energy, we could have had all electric cars (much easier to clean up a few thousand electric plants than millions of cars) by now. I asked my reps to give Detroit a tax free year in exchange for a $15K electric car before we ended up bailing them out and giving them a tax free year. Ted Kennedy told me we needed to drill! John Kerry said all electric is not a solution to oil consumption. Of course an all electric car only takes 24% of the energy it would to power it by fossil fuels. But what do the scientists know?

    I am all for taking care of the planet. I don’t drive unless I have to. We use the town recycling – though I hear they aren’t paying much for our trash in China anymore and a lot of it is going to the landfills. We have energy efficient appliances, lighting and insulation. We shut off our photo frames (30 bajillion kilowatt hours to run them in the US alone!) and PC speakers. We do that mostly because our energy bill is $550 per month.
    David recently posted..Is the Bible True – The Tale of Two Witnesses

    • I am eternally frustrated by our ridiculous energy policies. I am all about renewable – when they are cost effective. If we were able to harness renewable energy, we would eliminate the motive behind so many of history’s conflicts. Until then, we need oil, and I don’t get why we’re still allowing ourselves to be dependent on so many unstable nations. Teddy Roosevelt would’ve never allowed it. But even a “conservationist” like TR would never pass the test of the environmentalists today.

  7. First, I almost peed my pants reading this article. Second, I do think that as Christians we do have some responsibility to the planet. Obviously, the whole global warming thing is up in the air. But as Christians we can’t forget that Scripture is quite clear that we should take care of the planet. I do agree with your logic about eating meat, and not buying oil (are we still sending out chain letters? I thought those were done in the mid 90s?) I’m just wondering what we can do? Obviously I’m not going to make a global impact, but perhaps if everyone who called themselves Christians were to make small changes we could have a dramatic impact.
    SethC recently posted..Group

  8. I really do grieve over pollution, waste and environmental destruction, but that doesn’t make me a radical. I recycle everything possible from our home, for our church and for the business I work at, as well as doing some organic gardening and composting, but beyond that there isn’t much we CAN do.

    While I agree that environmental extremism can be obnoxious, I think the backlash can be openly ridiculous too. Yes, we really do have to do something about the wanton destruction of rainforests, and about 60 million plastic bottles being thrown away every day, and about species going extinct because of habitat loss, etc…I don’t know how to do anything about those things, but I assent to the need, and I feel like a lot of people pretend there isn’t a problem just because they don’t want to be associated with the annoying college kid with dreadlocks they saw on CNN last night.
    David N. recently posted..Gotcha Day

  9. Haha…I’d probably be considered a tree hugger and I love this! It’s funny how hung up people are on gas, when there is oil in practically everything we own…and often eat.

    I don’t do anything for earth day either, I figure what I do every other day of the year is probably more important. Often those decisions are more for the health of my children and the effect on the environment is just a benefit!

    I think our real downfall is in the excess, too many hamburgers, unnecessarily large vehicles, having the heat and the ac too high begin with. Politics don’t help either.
    Jenn recently posted..This is how I learned not only Jonah had a bad attitude

  10. This is an awesome and I love that you’re recycling rocks. Throwing them in the plastic petroleum-based garbage bags for the trash man to wrench his back was really not a good idea I guess. Then we’d need to have a discussion about health care. Oh yeah, I can’t wait to read your post on that.
    Candy recently posted..Functional Foodie Friday- Crab Cakes with Roasted Red Pepper Aioli

  11. I help the environment by choosing plastic bags at the grocery store. Why? Because I recycle them as kitchen and bathroom trash bags. I can not figure out why grocery store plastic bags are bad, so we must purchase canvas ones and use them over and over again, but the plastic trash bags we pay for are good and not an environmental problem. It seems to me the obvious solution is to use something that has a dual purpose, and not a Glad™ trash bag.
    What about when you have extra bags building up? Guess what. Lots of organizations get unused plastic grocery bags donaare ted from the stores when they are fundraising to hold the goods. Next time your local Girlscouts going to be in your Church vestibule selling cookies (or the old people’s group holding a craft fair, or the Mother’s club a bake sale, etc), arrange with the troop leader or person in charge to drop off clean used plastic grocery bags. Then they can be thrice used when someone else uses it for their bathroom trash!
    Helen recently posted..A Book and Its Cover

  12. I agree that we have a duty as Christians to take care the world God has given us but I refuse to get involved in the politics of being environmentally friendly. We recycle at my house and try to buy products that are made from recycled materials. I know this makes some difference but I’m still not sure how much of one it makes. But I’m with you Matt, most of the stuff that people do are just to look like they’re actually doing something.
    Ben Wiggins recently posted..New Theme- Tapestry

  13. So I’m a biologist, more like a microbiologist with a crush on molecular biology. Anyway me and my biologist friends like to get together and talk about Global Warming. And you know what? It’s a load crap! It’s bad science overlaid with bad theory after bad theory. Don’t tell the Ecologists I said that, though, they are biologists who really like Global Warming.

    I’m all about being a good steward to this planet, but it should never get in the way of taking care of God’s people- I’d rather save a soul than a tree. I recycle and I use reusable shopping bags, I keep my thermostat at 67 in the winter and 73 in the summer, but that’s really cause I’m cheap. I support local food producers but that’s more because I like fresh food, my dad is one of them, and I used to work for the top meat producer in the world and I don’t like the way they do business. I love tasty animals though, I eat a lot of farm raised chicken and animals shot my rednecks I love. I’m planning on composting this year…that’s about it, but while these things are “good for the planet” I often have other motivations for doing them as well.

    Oh and I wear deodorant so I we turn the air conditioning up a notch and save a dolphin.
    Carla recently posted..What idols do you worship

  14. Save the planet. Eat a peacock! You should probably get started on those bumper stickers.

    Have you ever heard the term “useful idiots”? I think so many folks (particularly kids indoctrinated in public schools) are trying to do the right thing, thinking that “the man” really is out to destroy the planet while hoarding money for themselves. That’s just not the case.

    The environmental movement is part of a much larger political agenda, and a very scary one at that, IMO.
    katdish recently posted..Mushrooms- anyone

    • “Useful idiots?” Has someone been watching Glenn Beck? :) I know he brings up Stalin’s expression often. But it is an apt expression.

      • Glenn Beck is a sore subject around this house. My son is a big fan, and while I can’t say I disagree with too much of what he presents on his show, I find his delivery incredibly annoying. I’m not a fan of fear mongering from either side of the political arena. He sort of reminds me of Tom Tuttle of Tacoma Washington (John Candy) from the movie Volunteers who said:

        “Let’s face it: you’re afraid and you have a damn good reason to be. Albert Spear once said, “Fear is victory’s fuel!” Oh, you spend a few years with me, pal, and we are going to turn that fear into high octane.”
        katdish recently posted..Mushrooms- anyone

        • That’s exactly how I feel. He tells you “Do your homework, read It will scare the hell out of you.” Yeah? Then what? No solution, no hope. Just fear and inevitable disaster. He also paints a picture that whatever “precipice” we are about to tumble over, there is no coming back, no recovery. He has no faith in humanity, and that’s why I can’t stand him, even when I do agree with his point of view.

  15. A) The whole thing was hilarious (and true!), but the part about cows made me laugh out loud in the middle of Dunkin’ Donuts. Literally. I had several people stare at me like a crazy person. (If only they knew)

    B) As Christians we should be the biggest environmentalists, just not crazy like those people at PETA and who do not buy gas for one day and the like. Global Warming? Well, if what I was taught about the Earth being really hot before Christ returns is true, then our planet just might be warming. There is absolutely nothing we can do about it! Does it mean we should stop treating our home as if we really like it and want to stay around for a while? No! Plant trees! Stop throwing our garbage anywhere we like! Find ways to preserve our habitats!

    As for my part, I support war to remove all of the morons taking up too much space, and thus we can help curb over-population. KIDDING! My wife and I have one car with a set limit on how much we spend on gas each week. If we cannot afford the gas, we do not drive any more than is absolutely necessary! I also eat a lot of beef to stop those farting cows!
    Daniel M. Klem recently posted..Merciful Death

  16. “Your carpet, your refrigerator, your TV, your home’s siding and windows, the fertilizer in your yard, your computer, your food containers, your pillows, your toothbrush. You are living in a barrel of oil. Gasoline is literally a drop in the bucket.” ROFL. Of course when you become a parent, you can add another barrel of oil for all the kids toys. We probably have half a barrel just in LEGOs. The “good” news is that we have learned how to make plastic out of corn products, so that our kids can complain about the price of a can of corn in the future and beef will become the luxury of the rich.

    I feel that we should be good stewards of the earth, but really, the only way to really do that is to go back to the lifestyles of the 1800’s agrarian people who made and grew almost everything themselves, bought food in bulk what they couldn’t grow or make and stored them in wooden barrells. They also were satisfied with a LOT less stuff and could live in smaller houses with no air conditioning. And they took baths only once a week :P.
    tandemingtroll recently posted..Second Summit Achieved- North Mountain

    • BTW, I actually hugged a tree! Of course, it was during one of my first attempts to cross country ski down a hill and I grabbed a tree to slow me down and help me make the hairpin turn at the bottom. I might have even kissed the tree :-).
      tandemingtroll recently posted..Second Summit Achieved- North Mountain

    • I totally support corn based plastic resins, although I’m concerned about it raising the price of food the same way biofuel has proven to do. However, maybe it will offset itself with the savings in oil it causes – just don’t know.

      I don’t think we have to go back to 1800s living, but you’re on the right track about just living a bit more simply.

    • “Being satisfied with a lot less stuff” Now there’s a novel idea. I agree with you. It seems like everything thing we do and have in this country is built on the concept of more and bigger.

      I personally think that conservation efforts aren’t about saving the planet, they are about saving ourselves. The planet will still be here. We won’t be able to drink its water, grow food on its soil or live w/o the ozone layer, but the planet itself…she’ll be just fine.

  17. I agree with Daniel M. Klem that as Christians we should be the biggest environmentalists. After all, we believe in a God who set us up as stewards of His creation! That’s a really big job! And it seems a terrible way to repay Him to just let the planet go to hell (so to speak).

    But that means that we SHOULD do little things that make a little impact. Like not keeping our houses icebox cold in the summer, installing good weather-stripping, and yes, maybe eating a few less hamburgers (because it’s not just the fact that the cows exist, but the factory farming methods as well). After all, no one would say that it’s worthless to donate a little money to a charity that builds wells for clean drinking water in Africa because it’s “a drop in the bucket.” Obviously one person doing one thing won’t fix anything, but a billion people doing nothing won’t fix anything either. At some point change has to start with one person, or lots of single people, actually doing something.

    Environmentalism shouldn’t be a political issue, and it’s a travesty that it has become one. Truth (like the truth that the world’s climate is changing, and that human involvement is almost certainly to blame) doesn’t depend on which side of the aisle you stand on. If you don’t think that the climate is changing, or you aren’t sure, I encourage you to check out this roundup of the scientific studies by Phil Plait.

    Man, I wound being a total wet blanket didn’t I? Sorry, I just feel really strongly about the Earth. God made such an amazing thing, and we’re messing it up.

  18. Hi! I didn’t really like this post, but I read around your site a bit more and I really like you – NOT that you need my “like” or affirmation. 😉

    Erika recently posted..A Movie Pick For A Holy Week

  19. I’ve found myself recycling more, but that’s about it. Seems to me that it’s the most practical thing to do.

    I liked the ‘marketing’ tweet this morning. I was like whaaa?
    Clint Oncken recently posted..North Texas Faith

  20. I wonder how much of an impact on the environment–or at least the economy!–if businesses would actually cool their buildings at a normal level. You are so right about the 68 degree thing. Everyone in my workplace has a personal space heater plugged in year round to combat the freezing air conditioner. How wasteful are we?!

    What am I doing for the earth this year? Moving to a new home where I will have a 13 mile commute rather than a 50 mile commute. Wahoo!!!
    Jessica Kelley recently posted..We Bought a House!

  21. I laughed out loud too many times to count in this post! Totally needed that today.

    And I agree with everything you said. I think as Christians we’re called to take care of the earth by being as responsible as possible…recycle what you can, be energy efficient, etc, but the whole worshipping the earth thing has gone waaaay too far.

    And now I’m going to go make some burgers for our dinner tonight.
    Nicole @ Here’s the Diehl recently posted..Etsy Shop- Part 1

  22. BTW, Have you heard about the latest move to save Mother Earth from the evils of capitalism?:
    katdish recently posted..Mushrooms- anyone

  23. Hi Matt,
    Thank you for the book, Crabgrass & Oak Trees; my copy just arrived in this afternoon’s mail. You sent it to me as a prize for… I’m not exactly what I did to win it. Thanks anyhow.

    Please convey my thanks to authors Jonathan Almanzar and Aaron Havens as well.

    Crabgrass & Oak Trees??? I don’t think it is about the environment or your subject in today’s post.

    John Cowart

  24. The one thing that drives me nuts is the littering by smokers. I have nothing against smoking, but have you ever noticed how many people just throw the cigarette butt on the ground. I think that stopping this habit would make a difference.
    Jeremy @ confessionsofalegalist recently posted..Left Behind

  25. Matt. I love your blog, but I wish that sometimes you would just say how you feel. You know, like quit sitting on the fence!

    But I do get you on all this.

    It’s not the cows farting that we need to worry about. It’s us. I mean we all do it but nobody admits it. So I’m thinking its time that we stop hiding behind the cattle and man and woman up and maybe. I have a hunch if we all reduced our farting by as little as 3 farts a day we might see a huge improvement in our environment.

    Just a thought
    Paul Robinson recently posted..When Rob Bell went too farsighted

  26. Haha, I win. My hubby is a hydrogeologist for an environmental engineering firm. His job? He cleans dirt! Yep, he goes to oil refineries that have closed and cleans up all the nasties in the soil.
    okay, he wins, but he doesn’t read this blog, so I win by being married to him. and not harpooning a whale this week. and eating beef twice this week. and filling TWO vehicles up with gas this week.
    Wow, I’m quite the environmentalist. I should get an award!

  27. of course we have a responsibility to steward the earth… God told us to take dominion… though that terminology would most likely incite to wrath most environmentalists. if Christians were being the stewards they ought, i wonder if there would have been a void for the environmentalists to fill.

  28. Being ‘Green’ is great.

    But so many eco-warriors have turned the whole ‘green’ thing into their religion.

    They have place the creation ABOVE the Creator.
    Steve Martin recently posted..DON’T tamper with the Word!

  29. I’m not big on bandwagons -political or religious. I do have concerns about the environment though based on at least two premises:

    1- because it feeds my inner rebel to place myself in opposition to the “Jesus will keep the Earth going until He’s done with it so lets use it while it we got it” (nevermind how miserable we may make it until then) mentality that seems to permeate the conservative evangelical church.

    2- because I truly believe those who recognize and worship the Creator should be the most responsible with all of His creation.

    Having said that I’ve never boycotted gas or Walmart or Disney, for that matter. (though I think my mom actually did quit buying Proctor and Gamble items for a short time in the 80’s due to their satanic cult connections ;-)) But I would caution all not to write off a recommendation simply because it seems to have a limited immediate impact.

    Taking all things into account, our best option is to respond to environmental issues based on God’s glory in it, not the measure of popular opinion.

  30. The Lord Jesus Christ, God in human flesh, said we are to love God and our neighbors, He never said to love the earth:

    He answered: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” Luke 10:27

    We are to be good stewards of the earth, but we are not to love it.

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