WD Fyfe

A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society

Green Meanies

Remember Yuppies — Young Urban Professionals — that crowd that infested the 70s and 80s?  Like the Politically Correct, nobody ever admitted to being a yuppie, but, for a while they were everywhere.  Do you ever wonder what happened to them?

They’re still with us.  They went back to the mall to spawn, and now they’ve mutated.  Yuppies have become Guppies – Green Urban Professionals — and they’ve had children and even grandchildren.  They’re still the all-consuming ratbags they always were, but now there are three generations of them and they’ve gotten cunning.  They’re using climate change and the death throes of our lonely planet to justify their shopping habits.  They’ve infiltrated environmental groups and they’ve enlisted the media to convince us we can actually buy our way out this mess. 

Let me set the record straight.  Climate Change, Global Warming, Ecological Disaster, etc. etc. is real.  If you’ve got another theory – wonderful – but like it or don’t, something serious is going on, here on planet Earth.  Don’t take my word for it: Google the glacier at Lake Louise in Alberta, Canada.  Now take a look at a picture of it 50 years ago.  Notice the difference?  Duh!  If we don’t figure out what’s happening to this little blue ball we call home pretty quick, we’re going be up to our asses in lukewarm water and poached polar bears.  This is no joke.

Environmental groups have been around forever.  I’m guessing the ancient Egyptians had big problems with people peeing in the Nile.  They’ve always been the canary in the mineshaft – a kind of early warning system – like the Sierra Club, formed in 1892 to make sure Yosemite wasn’t covered in condos by 1992.  In our time, Rachel Carson published Silent Spring in ‘62, a direct warning to clean up our act and our planet or face the consequences.  Unfortunately, the consequences showed up long before most of us had finished reading Chapter 3.  The problem is, environmental groups have been infiltrated by a bunch of Guppies who have hijacked the movement.  (I’m looking at you, Al Gore.)  The first thing they did was bring their winning corporate ways along with them and so turned activism into a money-making proposition.  Make no mistake: there’s big money in saving the planet, and, as everybody knows the key to making money is marketing.  Here’s the Twitter version of a PhD in Marketing – give them a disease, and then sell them the cure.

The disease we’ve been given is Global Warming, recently rebranded as Climate Change.  One of the cures is the biggest retail bonanza since those nice people on Mad Men discovered cigarettes are addictive.  The shelves are literally sagging with new products.  They’re either Green, or Organic, or Energy Efficient, or Environmentally Friendly or yadda, yadda, yadda.   Each is guaranteed to ease the suffering of our guilty conscience.  There’s also a special in-house rebate – you get to recycle (throw away) the old junk you’ve just replaced.  You don’t even have to worry about buyer’s remorse because you’re “helping” the planet by buying Energy Efficient, Environmentally Friendly, etc. etc.

What’s wrong with this picture?  Aside from the scam part, not much.  I’ve seen such incredible items as Green toothpaste, energy efficient leaf blowers (no, it’s not a rake) and my absolute favourite: environmentally friendly Chartered Accountants.  In recent history, Guppies have bought enough useless crap to kill three planets.  I have no fear of toxic waste because, one of these mornings, we’re going to wake up buried in half-used small appliances and smart phones – in a variety of makes and models.

Another “cure” for Climate Change is – surprise! — more activism and its silent partner, the laying of blame.  Guppies have formed aggressive groups who roam the planet, pointing out just how environmentally screwed up the rest of us are.  (Just an aside: have you ever noticed that Environmental Conferences are never held in a place where you can get there on a bus?)  Anyway, these groups have two problems: 1) Guppies don’t know what they’re talking about – they’re urban professionals.  The closest they ever come to getting their hands dirty is visiting the community garden or playing Farmville on Facebook and 2) they’re all off the scale in the Pompous Ass Department, so every time they get an idea, no matter how stupid, they think it’s holy writ.  Individually, these two little items certainly aren’t going to do the environmental movement much good; combined they’re actually harmful.  First of all, we waste tons of time, money and human energy chasing every project that butterflies across the horizon and forget about programs that actually work.  For example, I live in a big city that doesn’t have residential water meters.  Think about it!  And each Guppie pet project, regardless of its merit, is defended like it was the Alamo – more time and energy wasted.  Secondly, their unholy arrogance and unerring ability to point out the flaws in everybody else’s behaviour has pissed off a lot of people.  Some of these are very folks we’re going to need if we’re ever going to fix this unnatural disaster.  Loggers, miners, farmers and factory workers are just ordinary people and they don’t like being pushed around by the big boys at Corporate Ecology.  It makes them reluctant to help with the heavy lifting; especially after they’ve been called every name but nice and compared to Adolf Hitler, Satan and George W Bush.  No wonder the debate is polarized.

In a nutshell, we’re going to have to deal with our Green Urban Professional problem before we can tackle the environment.  Unfortunately, they have pretty powerful friends.

 Friday: Guppies, Government and the Media: the New Axis of Evil


7 comments on “Green Meanies

  1. Shelley McConnell
    November 17, 2010

    I couldn’t agree more, Bill. There’s this TV show called something like “Green Homes” or “Eco Homes” or something like that. On this show, these people you’re talking about build these massive houses out of green materials (I’m talking 5000 or 6000 square foot babies), and then pat themselves on the back for how energy efficient they are and how they used all “green” materials to build it. Somehow the the “reduce” and “re-use” part of the re-use/recycle/reduce parts of that equation are always minimized by these people who are still into stuff in a major way. There’s little talk about the energy used to transport all of this wonderful bamboo to their homes in N. America, or the energy used to manufacture the products(not to mention the land used to situate these monstrousities). Consumption still seems to be the name of the game…and meaness…

    • wdfyfe
      November 17, 2010

      It was your Uber-parent comment that inspired the whole thing.

  2. B.J. Vandale
    November 17, 2010

    I like the way you tell it like it is. It’s about time someone cut through the crap some of the high profile people in this world are feeding us. I’m not in any way saying that this planet earth is not in danger but come on people some of the things they are telling the masses is down right ludicrous. It is another big business, money making project for the people that just didn’t go out like the rest of us and get a real job. Whatever happen to good old fashion common sense.

  3. Shelley McConnell
    November 17, 2010

    The “uber” parents are the worst in terms of consumption. All their kids’ toys may be made out of recyclable stuff, but that doesn’t stop them from filling their 5000 sqare foot 3-person houses with mass quantities of this stuff rather than (I don’t know) actually playing with their kids outside….oh wait, I guess they do let their kids go outdoors to run with them as long as the kids ride in “safety” in their $2000 running chariots on crowded trails where everybody else will see they have an expensive ride even when they’re not driving their Prius’s to the eco store to pick up more stuff … (and by the way, I’m the first to support true environmentally conscious initiatives, like reducing the amount of stuff you consume, supporting local food production, taking public transit/walking when you can, etc. I DO believe that global warming is a man-made phenomenon).

    • amoriarty
      November 18, 2010

      Quite right, Shelley.
      And we all know that “uber” parents require SUVs. Don’t know how my parents managed with their little cars (and there were four of us)!
      I once showed my students a fascinating documentary on consumption.
      It started with a gorgeous baby in her crib smiling up at the twinkling stars of her room. And the narrator said something like “welcome to the world—a new baby consumer!” Yikes!
      The doc went on to discuss how and when this phenomenon of child-centred households emerged.
      Yup–you guessed it–it exploded in the 1970’s.
      The consuming child, in many ways, controlled the dinner time discussions when it used to be Dad telling everyone to keep quite (at least in my house – ha!). From tyrannical fathers to “benign” consumption – what a journey!

  4. N Watt
    November 17, 2010

    Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, I wonder how many people really understand what these words mean. Reduce: Stop buying every thing you lay your eyes on, all the latest “green” gadgets, or all that junk you see on the shopping channel. Reuse: Just because an item isn’t useful for it’s original purpose, use your imagination to come up with a new way to use it. A pot with a broken handle makes a great dog dish, worn out sheets turn into cleaning rags, no more paper towels. And here is a novel idea, put a patch on those old jeans, you can wear them when you’re working on your organic garden in your own backyard. Recycle: Has anyone hear of second hand stores? Furniture, clothes, toys, they are all there and with a little care and a bit of time you can get some really great buys. These are not new ideas, “real” people have been doing this stuff for years, they don’t call it “going green” for them it’s Survival.

    • amoriarty
      November 18, 2010

      I’ve recently discovered the art of second hand, mostly because of necessity. I’m not sure I’ll ever go back to my old ways, regardless of great financial expectations.
      The creativity involved in the whole Craig’s List – consigment and thrift store phenomenon has changed the way I see the world. No small feat, for just being a bit poor!

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This entry was posted on November 17, 2010 by in Social Media and tagged , , , , , .
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