Pocketbook environmentalism

I’ve mentioned before that the home page on Mr. Bookworm’s browser is the New York Times, which very much affects his outlook on things.  I’ve therefore been unsurprised that, in the past year or so, my husband has been mouthing a lot of “green”  stuff.  “Turn  off the lights, to help stop global warming.”  “We don’t need the heater on; it’s creating global warming.”  “I want a new energy efficient car to help stop global warming.”  The kids, who already get the sermon at school  (usually in the form of endless pieces of paper reminding us in a sentence or two per page to recycle), get a repeat from  Mr. Bookworm at home.

What did surprise me, though, was Mr. Bookworm’s behavior on this vacation.  We’re staying at a very nice hotel,  which is generous with the towels — and Mr. Bookworm more  than takes advantage of that generosity.  He goes through at least five per day.  He also showers for a half hour at a time and leaves all the lights on in the room.  When I task him with this, not on green grounds, but simply because I hate waste, he says it’s part of what he’s paying the hotel for.  In another  words, he’s not green at all.  He  just mouths it to justify what some  might call cheap (and I call “waste not, want  not”).

I suspect my husband’s skin deep, pocket book  environmentalism is not  unique.  Indeed, nothing shows that more clearly than the Gore-ish, and foolish, reliance on carbon offset credits, which are nothing  more than a way to be profligate with energy sources, while at the same time denying  any responsibility.


14 Responses

  1. But you married him despite all that, right?

    My first wife was similarly disposed. I did my best to overlook it. We can’t always change what we dislike, especially when we’re speaking of the flaws of another person; the consequences can make us wish we’d never made the attempt. When “another person” is your spouse…well, I hardly need to complete that sentence, do I?

    All the same, I sympathize. It’s hard to stare at hypocrisy that blatant without saying something critical about it.

  2. It’s so frustrating, I know. Our nine-year old came home from school last year having ingested and embraced the entire “global warming” hoax. She has not a clue what carbon-dioxide is but knows that our industry is at fault for killing those cuddly polar bears. She goes to a private school that is known to be decidedly un-PC, but this issue apparently has appeal like no other.

  3. Seems that most ‘green’ people are willing to change things that aren’t particularly invasive to their way of life. A lightbulb or an energy efficient car doesn’t interupt life as they know it. No one is really driving any less, or slower, or riding bikes more or conserving energy in any real useful way. Forget real sacrifice, it’s not in the equation. Forget that to dispose of those lightbulbs and batteries may be dangerous and more costly than what they save in energy or cash and a bigger threat to the environment.

    In their shallow view, they also don’t seem to notice that real TRADE OFFS are a consequence of any change. If we turn to corn as an alternate fuel source, there are already less corn for food, fewer fields available for wheat and vegetables, less corn to feed cattle and chickens, and forests may have to be cut down to meet the demand. Therefore, costs will rise across the board. Maybe it’s worth the trade offs, but few ‘green’ people seem to even consider them.

    I think we can ALL agree that reducing our dependency on oil makes sense. After all there is only a finite amount available. It only makes sense to conserve what is left. We can find alternate fuel sources but as a high heat lubricant, oil is without equal and much harder to replace. When it is gone, industry grinds to a halt, literally.

    As for the kids, they and their families may talk ‘green’ but they don’t let it get in the way of their driver’s license or maybe even getting a car; securing the latest cell phone; or spending gobs of cash for proms and their sweet 16’s!

  4. 96% of our energy in the transportation sector comes from petroleum (98% if you include natural gas). (http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/aer/pecss_diagram.html)

    I challenge anyone to reduce their dependency on anything that supplies 98 of any facet of their lives. Using any definition of ‘reduce’ that you find meaningful.

    “Reduce our dependency on oil” is a buzzword meaning absolutely nothing.

  5. I see this as just human nature. The economic motivation that locks into our survival and social networking is still strong and kicking. After all, it is very hard to truly sacrifice something of oneself for the greater good. It was designed to be very hard and rare because if everyone sacrificed for the greater good, then humanity might not have survived as a species. We never started as hive minds and thus if everything depended on one leader and that leader failed, then the whole edifice would collapse. This might actually have developed in our million years past, but didn’t work out, and thus we have humans being humans as we see them. Nature abhors putting all her eggs in one basket I suspect.

    In a sense it is true that people work together for the common good, but they also work together for the individual’s good. That is why we tend to have conflicts of interest should a mother’s safety of her children is pitted directly against the safety of the group for harboring the children.

    People must learn how to critically think. People know of tele-evangelicals and used car salesmen but they don’t really understand how these things operate, if only because people keep falling for other cons like Global Warming and Nigerian email scams.

    The US public school system has been designed from the ground up in order to stifle creative and critical thinking. Without critical thinking, Book, nobody will recognize the inconsistencies between a stated goal and the stated actions that is being done to further that goal; such as say wasting paper to tout conservation. It is not an easy thing to understand that to save a village, you must first destroy that village, which is why ethical dilemmas are supposed to be taught as examples of critical thinking. Critical thinking, where the answer is not obvious.

    There are two rewards as I see it, that might counter-act each other. One is the reward of belonging to a group, the Global Climate Church (or GCC), while the other reward is produced when a person solves a hidden problem and mystery by relying upon their unique mental talents of cognition.

    A person feels a small spike of pleasure at figuring out the con, so to speak, in a sea of others that just follow as their instincts direct them to. Sort of why conspiracies are popular. If a person sees an inconsistency in the beliefs of another, they will want to point that out because they feel themselves superior to the other if only because the first saw through the scam while the other is still following it. Of course you can always have the vice a versa, where the first person that saw through the scam was following the scam, but the second one that follows the scam was really enlightened.

    Regardless, the pleasure triggers are similar and also cancels out the other when brought together by different people or groups.

    People, curiously, want to belong but they also want to rebel. Weird evolutionary experiences I suppose.

    In a sense, your husband is doing new things in a sort of rebellious manner, trying out new chic fashions for example, while also feeling a sense of belonging to the greater good. Uncapitalized of course.

    Psychotherapy has made remarkable progress in such fields as human self-delusion and sociological pressures. Of course, there is still a stigma attached to therapy, and for good reason if you know what kind of therapists are out there empowered by which agendas. However, as with lawyers, when you find a really good (someone that fights on the side of the Light) psychotherapist, then that is all the more remarkable for it in their field.

    Good actions don’t come from fads or brainwashing or even a basic intention to do good. Good actions come from a solid philosophical foundation powered by critical thinking and logical analysis. The philosophical foundation is not ever changing because it is more powerful and grounded in reality than ephemeral ideologies such as Global Warming. Any flexibility required involves the critical thinking portion, in which people take new situations and analyze them for flaws or dangers.

    This is why it is hard for Warmies to be consistent in their fight for whatever they claim they are fighting for. Their philosophy is based upon the self-interest of Gore, not based upon something solid, ancient, and wise. A religion or even a philosophy, can only be as good as the founder’s foundation building. If the founder made a mistake, then either you need to scrap his philosophy or you need to modify it. If no one volunteers to modify a flawed philosophy, as with Islam and Global Warming, then you can already see the nature of the decay.

    The immediate thing I suppose people could do is to continue to point out the little inconsistencies in people’s actions. Either the defense will be the “circle the wagons” type or an individual might actually start thinking. Children are impressionable but they also like asking questions. Make them ask questions of authority, and they will gladly do the work of thinking for themselves, if only they are shown that it is possible.

  6. My wife had on a TV program today that featured Richard Branson–billionaire founder of Virgin Music, Virgin Atlantic Airlines, etc.

    He was on his private island talking about how wonderful he is. That is the island he reaches by private jet and helicopter. The one he rents out for $47,000 per day when he is away doing very important thigs. One of the important things he is planning is a project on a neighboring West Indies Island where brilliant people will come to study ways to save the climate. Never mind the carbon emissions necessary to transport his important people to this remote and pristine location in the manner they deserve. Another of his future projects will be inter-galactic space travel for the filthy rich.

    I am thinking of starting a save the climate laboratory based on my child-hood observations. Maybe Branson, or some other extremely rich “Green” will fiance it for me. Folks would come to my exclusive retreat, where the men would spend the day walking behind a mule to grow organic food. The women would cook on wood burning stoves and do the wash in a great black pot over a wood fire, using dead-falls, of course, so that no tree need die. When they were ready to cook a chicken, they would go out in the backyard and kill one. Normally the squeamish could use a gun, but I know would be unacceptable, so it will be done by hand. Since homes would NOT be electrfied, my residents would enjoy the natural climate (95 degrees with 95% humidity in the Florida summer). They would also tend to go to bed early, no lights. But, before bed-time they would trek down the path to the out-house. On Saturdays they could hitch up the mule and drive to town. Those who did not have a mule or wagon could walk, or beg a ride.

    This seems to be the life that is so admired by today’s “environmentally conscious”. This is a life-style that truly minimizes one’s carbon foot-print. It is also a life-style that people were desparate to leave behind, but memories are short–especially for those who with no experience. It should be instructive to re-visit.

  7. Oldflyer, what you wrote reminded me of what my daughter (who is horse crazy) says every time she sees a horse: “I want a horse. If we all rode horses, there wouldn’t be air pollution.” I always feel compelled to remind her that, in the horse and carriage days, the streets were a filthy amalgam of manure and horse urine. One of the reasons people embraced “horseless carriages” was that they were so much cleaner!

  8. Yes, BW, not to mention all the overworked, abused and dead horses the horse and carriage days produced. Tell the dear child the best thing ever happened for horses was the use of steam and the internal combustion engine.

  9. Oldflyer,

    LOL old boy–you’re dead on. Reminds me of the first time this craze rolled around, circa late 19th century. Seems the Transcedentalist-inspired socialist communes contemplated the same sort of nirvana on earth, even to the planting of only “aspiring vegetables”, ie only those with the fruit above ground–no root veggies. Oh, and most of these godly sorts were glad to leave the actual work to others–content to pontificate on their own goodness and leave the tilling and toiling to the others. Needless to say, these utopian experiments faded faster than the tin type photos of all the elites out front in their virtuous farmer clothes.

    It’s so typical of the Volvo and granola set to scold and preach within the confines of their air conditioned, electrified and fully applianced retreats. Ha!

  10. Ahh Bookworm. You raise another point. Whenever I groused about the cost of maintaining the two family horses, and the time I spent hauling those creatures around (instead of golfing), my wife reminded me that they were the best investment in girl-rearing that we ever made. She was right.

    But, to be really effective the girl has to experience the full range of smelly chores, bumps and frustrations. In our case, since we could never afford the better class of horse, there was plenty to experience; including a few trips to the emergency room, and in one case, a few days in the hospital. The reward was two self-reliant and couragous young women. Good luck.

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  12. My brothers and I were raised to respect and conserve out environment. One brother is now a raging (and I mean raging)liberal. He thinks we should all do our absolute all to help clean up the environment. He’s also the only one of us that can afford to own a plane, 3 boats, 2 SUV’s, a car and a truck. I love him, but he’s totally subtracted himself from the real world. Needless to say, I take all he preaches with a grain of salt.

  13. Guilt is usually what drives a lot of what Book calls pocketbook environmentalism. People that are rich and are the ones consuming a lot of resources feel guilty that they get all this while others get crap. So they compensate by going “religious”. Catholics might be told to say Hail Mary ies as penitence, but Global Warming has another kind of penance system.

    I love Raging though.

  14. I always feel compelled to remind her that, in the horse and carriage days, the streets were a filthy amalgam of manure and horse urine. One of the reasons people embraced “horseless carriages” was that they were so much cleaner!

    You might also remind her that those horses will inevitably have broken legs, whipped backs, torn mouths, and many days of hauling stuff for humans on vacation trips.

    It’s not nice to want to make all your friends into slaves for the use of the 6 billion humans around. Some of those humans like beating animals and killing them.

    People should always be reminded, forcibly if need be, of the consequences to their stated future and current actions.

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