A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
Trying to put a stop to the Guppie stranglehold on the Environmental Movement is going to be difficult. They have as their allies two of the most powerful forces on the planet – national governments and the international media. In hugely oversimplified terms, here’s how it works. Environmental groups need government money and media exposure to exist. Governments respond to noise. Nothing else gets their attention. Furthermore, nobody wants to piss off the media, ‘cause they’re mean, and they will hurt you. These three vultures actually hate each other but they all fly together for mutual survival. Let me give you an example.
Several years ago, some brainiac came up with the idea of carbon credits or cap and trade or scratch ‘n’ sniff or whatever the hell they’re calling it this week. This is a very complicated system which, in part, involves trading pollutants for clean air and money or vice versa – nobody really knows for sure. In theory, this should work, but when you look at it a little closer, what it amounts to is paying someone else to quit smoking for you. Environmental groups jumped on the bandwagon, shouting “Hallelujah! We’re saved!” The media caught the trend and demanded action, and a ton of governments responded with legislation. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work. So, nothing much has changed except factories are now following carefully crafted regulations while they turn our planet into Venus. Even worse, the three Horsemen of the Apocalypse decided to cover their bums and blame the Industrial Corporations they tried to hoodwink in the first place. This is only one of a thousand situations, and it’s only going to get worse now that the Unholy Trinity has found a convenient scapegoat – Big Business, Corporate America, Corporate France, Corporate Borneo. It doesn’t matter: Corporate Somebody.
Suddenly, the world has a resident bogeyman. Don’t get me wrong: I would never trust my future to those soulless pirates at British Petroleum or Union Carbide, but I not going to offload my responsibilities to them either. Unfortunately, in the great media battle of Good vs Evil, the simplest storyline works best. They — who eat babies to fuel their nefarious plots — are bad; whereas we — who love sunshine and rainbows — are good. We see this scenario everywhere, but if you’ve been living in a cave recently, just think Avatar, James Cameron’s remake of Dances with Wolves – tiny pastoral good against humongous industrial evil, at its finest. (I liked the movie. I even bought a couple of McDonald’s Happy Meals to get the toys.) My point is, however, that Guppie activists are always portrayed in the media as intellectually and spiritually superior, while anybody who opposes them is a dirty rotten scoundrel. Big Business didn’t have to work very hard to become the new Nazis, but I’m a little tired of anybody with a Green Peace bumper sticker getting a free pass.
Media people are as lazy as old dogs in the sunshine so they’re allowed a little slack, but these days even journalists are singing to the choir. Without an independent media, it’s hard to get information out to regular people, especially when that same media is only using its infinite power to draw the battle lines between Climate Change junkies and the folks who want to deny the whole thing. The problem is Guppies love to be called brave little soldiers, and they respond with e-mails, phone calls and ratings. On the other hand, you can’t correct the media, they are a vindictive crew and will stab you in the back. Witness the recent demise of President Barack Obama who went from media darling to dunderhead in less time than it took Congress to butcher his legislation. Luckily, there is a new underground resistance forming on the Internet that bypasses shoddy journalism and the vainglorious need for self-congratulation. But it’s going to take time; time we might not have.
Meanwhile, in another part of the ever-diminishing forest, national governments are wasting everybody’s time in an tightening circle of uselessness. Here’s the one big connection between the environment and government that nobody seems to get: they can fix it — anytime they want to! Everybody seems to think it’s brain science or rocket surgery; it’s not. Here’s the deal: within your taxpaying lifetime, your government (whichever one it is) gave every banker in this world enough money to wallpaper the boardroom in 50-dollar bills. By the end of that same day, they’d mortgaged the souls of your grandchildren, in numbers that I can’t even comprehend. They didn’t ask anybody; they didn’t study it; they didn’t give a damn: they just signed the papers. Obviously, governments can do whatever they want. Next Monday, they could make a law that prohibits dumping crap in our fresh water supply – done — and still have enough time left over to yip about Afghanistan all afternoon.
So why don’t they? That’s an easy one. Governments respond to noise, and Guppies are noisy. They form committees. They go to meetings. They get on television. They are going to defend their lifestyle. If they think for 5 minutes that somebody’s threatening their 3-a-day latte habit, they’re going to scream bloody murder. The only way to slow them down is to shout them down. (though not literally) Ordinary people have got to get up from the kitchen table and start talking. In a calm, determined voice, we have to make our feelings known, without name calling or rhetoric. However, we have to make everyone understand that we are taking control of this situation, and no matter how long it takes or how much trouble it is, we’re going to fix it. There’s no second choice.
As I’ve already said, trying break the Guppie stranglehold on the Environmental Movement isn’t going to be easy. But either we stop them now or the human race’s carbon footprint is going to be just a misunderstood fossil in some extraterrestrial’s sample case.
“I can’t figure this out, Ragnar. This species looks like it once dominated the planet. How did they ever become extinct?”
“But who were their natural enemies, Ragnar?”
“I don’t know, Volnax. I don’t know.”