Connie Woodcock, a columnist with the Toronto Sun, has written today about Earth Hour, that annual event scheduled for this coming Saturday. Her column is a great read overall, but one part in particular caught my attention:
The thing is, just how much more thinking about the Earth can we possibly do?
We seldom get a break from worrying about the future anymore ” about energy conservation, climate change, greenhouse gases, carbon footprints. There are times when I’d like an hour off from worrying about the Earth ” to turn on the stove or the dishwasher without guilt or to examine my electricity bill without fear.
This woman has read my mind. I, too, am weary of being nagged 24/7 by the green-conscious. I mean, you can’t escape this stuff. My supermarket displays signs in the parking lot urging me to “respect the environment.” My dry cleaner assures me it uses planet-friendly detergents. My tissue box boasts that it’s made from 100% recycled fibre. A brochure from the public transit commission tells me its new maintenance facility will be “built to green development standards,” have a “green roof” and be landscaped with 400 new trees.
There’s no evading this particular societal obsession. Really, I’ve tried. I’ve set aside a few hours of quiet time. Just me, my camera, and the Toronto Zoo. What’s one of the first things I encounter after paying my admission fee? A billboard about the zoo’s efforts to become carbon neutral. Followed shortly afterward by a large text quote from former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan regarding the importance of being “good stewards of the Earth.” Followed by unending exhibit verbiage concerning endangered species.
I get it. We humans are foolish, exploitative, and despicable. If the green grumps had their way we’d still be shivering in caves, dressing in loin cloths, and dying in childbirth.
Except that we’re not despicable. If we were we’d have produced no paintings, no poems, and no plays. There’d be no marvelous facilities like the Toronto Zoo in which the compounds are often so large the animals can be difficult to see even with my longest telephoto lens.
All of this scolding and berating ignores the fact that the air is cleaner than it used to be and that even the UN admitted this week that forests:
have been increasing steadily, growing by 25 million hectares over the past two decades.
As a young woman I embraced feminism because I had no desire to be bossed around by men. These days it’s greens who want to regulate my behaviour. The environment is just one of many important issues in this world. Yet here in Toronto I am now required to genuflect to Gaia every time I make a purchase (merchants are required by law to charge five cents per plastic shopping bag).
While everyone is entitled to their personal religious views, when they start imposing them on me my response is neither meek nor docile. In an era in which it has become difficult to pick up a newspaper and not be pestered about the environment, the last thing I’m interested in is devoting a full, uninterrupted hour to that preoccupation.
What I’d really cherish is just one hour in which no one nagged me.