Politics & Media
Mar 24, 2008, 06:22AM

Our Greening Ego

Doing the right thing environmentally means more than making superficial feel-good changes. Is the upper crust ready for the challenge? From the Wesleyan Argus.

So, we’ve all been hearing a lot about this “climate change” thing lately. The planet is going to spontaneously combust like hairspray to a flame any day now. Not to mention the penguins. My God, the penguins. In fact, “going green” is pretty sexy right now. You should be on the look out for lines like, “Hey earth mama, wanna go upstairs and talk about alternative energy sources?” In fact, I tried it at Senior Cocktails. Like 50 times. Then I think I had a special moment with a rent-a-cop from Cromwell, but that’s another story. Enough about me. Let’s get back to my obnoxious opinions about other people.

Here’s the thing. I know that getting frantic about climate change is really hot right now, but I think advocating for socially responsible beer pong and whining about the evils of bottled water just might be missing the forest for the trees, if you catch my drift. Granted, bottled water is a really stupid idea. However, in my bombastically un-expert opinion, unless 75 percent of the world’s population, or at least maybe the entirety of the so-called First World disappears overnight and Japan stops making service robots for no reason, harassing that one friend who drives distances of two blocks around campus is not going to fix the fact that our economy/society produces ever-increasing needs for itself into infinity and that so far the only way to fill those needs has been bulldozing trees and the like. Harass that friend for being lazy, sure, but not for raining death down upon the planet. We are all complicit. I’m an anthropology major, so I’m allowed to feign authority about the workings of society, or something.

Granted, I’m all for working for change (even sexier than green right now). Not that I’ve done anything so far, but I will support you in (some) of your endeavors, just as long as I don’t have to hear about them. I just think if we’re going for change, it needs to be radical, whatever that means. As in, curb the consumption (no, but seriously). I don’t think that can happen on the individual level, because our entire society is structured to support unsustainable consumption. I have no idea how that restructuring can happen and don’t pretend to. In the meantime, am I doing anything about it other than sitting on my Wesentitled, Wesprivileged ass, writing self-indulgent Wespeaks? No. Am I equally implicated because of my “First World” lifestyle? Does this passivity open me up to massive criticism by anyone who managed to get through this absurdity? Yes, let’s hear it.

It just seems to me that this whole green orgy obscures the much larger problem that is embarrassing and incredibly difficult to address. I’m not attacking people who are legitimately working for big-time change (also a pretty sexy word right now), or hating on the Kyoto protocols or whatever. I think that some parts of the “green” movement have a lot of potential (urban agriculture, for one, and other attempts to actually change the way we structure our patterns of consumption). Do it in the Dark (shout out to EON, before you smite me down), Focus the Nation, composting, all that stuff is fine and good. I just don’t want it all to take attention away from the bigger picture and turn into yet another way for us to massage our egos. All in all I’m pretty much just channeling my anger at the generalized eco-masturbation that’s been climaxing over these past few years into a really inappropriate forum. So, please, those of you who are better informed than me, let’s talk it up.


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