TRIGGER WARNING! THE FOLLOWING MAY UPSET AND OFFEND THOSE WHO FEEL THE PLANET NEEDS SAVING. PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK.
This Saturday, April 22 is Earth Day. Last year, I explained “Why I’m Not a Fan of Earth Day.” I’ve decided to begin a tradition: an annual Earth Day exposé.
It’s not that I don’t love the earth. Earth is great––awesome, even. It’s some of the people who live here that wear me out: the habitual hand-wringers who try to convince me that humanity is ruining the planet, and that she––Mother Earth––is on the brink of destruction.
As a 60-year-old American, I’ve had to listen to these doomsayers for six decades. As a child, I heard the atomic bomb was going to destroy the planet; when I was a teenager, it was The Population Bomb, then air pollution, quickly followed by water pollution, and then nuclear power. As a young father, I was told the disposable diapers my daughter wore were “killing the planet.” My children grew up with an illogical fear of plastic bags (plastybolsaphobia) and asteroids (meteorophobia), while being bombarded by t-shirts silk screened with calls to “Save the Whales!”. Today, my grandchildren are being told to fear weather changes. I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point.
But somehow, despite doomsters’ prognostications, here we are: Mother Earth and humanity are still kicking. We face challenges, but we deal with them, propelled by collective experience earned over millions of years. Earth has her own wisdom and way of beating the odds––without our help.
With the help of my parents, I came to realize that there will always be people beating their chests and yelling about our imminent demise. Some mean well and may even have a message worth hearing, but so many have something to gain by frightening and distracting us with a never-ending supply of impending global calamities.
Because I’ve come to recognize these other dynamics at play, I’ve been shielded from the negativity that seems to dominate our society. As far as I’m concerned, life, humanity, and the planet are incredible just as they are, and I encourage you to get out there and enjoy it all.
I realize we have work to do. I am all for taking prudent action to assure Earth’s health. But too many Earth Dayers are zealots without perspective, far from reasonable. For them, saving the planet has become a religion, and they are as insistent that they hold the one true faith as are the most fundamental of Christians or Muslims.
Recently, my wife Julie and I were walking alongside Ladybird Lake in downtown Austin. In a moment of weakness, I mistakenly wore a jacket given to me by one of my clients, an oil company. One of these Earth Day preachers accosted us and gave me a tongue lashing: “Your company is destroying the ozone,” she said, glaring at me.
In a second moment of weakness, I gently asked her for evidence to support her accusation. She became enraged. She screamed that the evidence is “irrefutable.” In other words, her “truth” is not to be questioned.
Who does that sound like?
My wife Julie and I are both Catholic. This experience with Earth’s misguided protector by the lake took me back to a physical lashing I received as a young boy when I asked Sister Ann a question: “Can God can make a rock so big that Jesus could not lift it?”
After the beating, I was dragged to the principal’s office, where Monsignor Thomas sat me down and told me I was in school to learn, not to question. Sounds eerily similar to today’s college campuses, doesn’t it?
Zealotry is zealotry, whether in service of one’s god or one’s planet.
Saving the earth has even become chic. I was at a mall recently, and virtually every store I visited touted their products as “green.” I turned to Julie and said, “Did you know that Spenser’s Gifts is a green merchant? I guess they’re selling environmentally friendly whoopee cushions now.”
You read it here first: it won’t be long until Earth Day folks realize they could rake in even more cash by holding an annual Green Friday.
But what bothers me most about Earth Day and its clan is the pessimism they instill in our young people. An Amazon reviewer of my book, Heretics to Heroes, said this in his review:
“Frankly, Millennials like me have become jaded by unscrupulous leadership in business, politics, academia, and similar institutions. We have all but lost faith in the generations before us to do what’s right, and we worry about the example they have set for future generations to come. This is what makes Heretics to Heroes such a bright, shining light in the darkness…(it) delivers a clear, positive, and certain message during an uncertain time…(this) is the kind of leader the world so desperately needs right now.”
In addition to just bringing us down, that nihilist mindset distracts us from problems that are here right now, such as the one billion children who live in extreme poverty, the 21,000 people who die each day of hunger, and the billions who do not have access to clean water or enjoy basic human freedoms.
These problems are not easy to solve. There is no instant gratification that occurs tackling something like poverty, and you won’t gain a social affiliation like the one you assume after joining the “environmental movement.” Politicians and other crowdpleasers are unable or unwilling to take on such complex, time-consuming quagmires. That’s where the sexier issues come in: leaders pontificate about scary, speculative problems that cannot be proved or disproved––much like the existence of God. They can milk an especially effective distraction for decades.
The UN holds global summits to discuss the potential impact of climate change. Where are the meetings about the mass genocide in Europe and Africa?
The “green-washed” wealthy spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on Teslas. If they really gave a damn about the planet, they’d buy a Prius and donate the other $150,000 to the Hunger Project.
So no, I don’t care for Earth Day. It’s as commercialized and politicized as Christmas, and way too many of its celebrants are fanatical and hypocritical.
I wish Earth could speak to the misanthropes who are so eager to save her. I think she’d say something like this:
Please stop trying to fix me. And for heaven’s sake, stop trying to save me. I’ve taken care of myself for more than 14 billion years. I’ll be just fine. Instead of saving me, save each other. After all, it’s the humane thing to do.