Thursday, November 15, 2007

Going Green: A Truly Visionary Concept, And The Most Annoyingly Overused Phrase Of 2007

Although we can’t always shake the nasty habit of writing in the royal we, occasionally one of our editors decides to shake off the cloak of anonymity to write a short, pithy statement long, rambling diatribe about a topic of their choice. Today, Debbie Newman is that editor.
Recently, CNN producer David Doss informed sexually ambiguous anchorperson Anderson Cooper that the network’s highly lauded miniseries “Planet in Peril” would most likely become a regular feature on AC360. Cooper’s angry (and, presumably, unfiltered) response? He groaned, “Jesus Christ! We really need to solve this whole environmental thing quickly, because I really don’t want to do it again.”

Naturally, I sprung into action, making light of Cooper’s apparent hypocrisy with the help of a superfluous, but well-timed Sesame Street reference (”Kermit was right, it ain’t easy being green!”) and denouncing him for wanting to see “this whole tiresome ’save the planet crusade’ to come to an end.” Afterwards, I mentally wrote the man an apology. It read something like:
“Dear Coop. I know exactly how you feel! (About the environment, I mean, not about all those persistent rumors questioning your sexual orientation). Friends?” Not surprisingly, I never heard back.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all in favor of conserving our planet’s natural resources, phasing out the use of coal fired power plants and all the rest of that “save the environment” crap. In fact, I’ll have you know that, in my own emotionally detached way, I truly am concerned about the long-term effects of global warming, the depletion of the ozone layer and the melting of the polar ice caps—particularly the latter, since it applies to impossibly cute polar bear cubs just like the one German animal rights’ activists are petitioning to kill. It’s just all the alarmist statistics (Fact: “Worldwide water use is doubling every 20 years – twice the rate of population growth”) and scary predictions are, well, kind of a downer. You know, much along the same lines as Darfur, the New York Yankees and the U.S.’ occupation of Iraq.
Sure it’s important to think about all those things from time to time, but does it really have to be so all-consuming? Why must environmentalists—like most individuals who work full-time at non-profit organizations, and Jewish mothers—be so proficient in the art of passive aggressive discourse? The aforementioned being a technique invariably used to make the rest of us experience the sudden onset of guilt or general inadequacy, as in the following example.

Environmentalist: How was your day?Me: Pretty good, actually. Pretty good. Let’s see…I got to reference the unibrow baby from The Simpsons, so there was that. Plus, you know, I had that really funny one-liner in Jiblets? Oh, and, um, I just finished writing this amazing editorial for tomorrow about Britney Spears’ vagina’s Christmas wishlist. You?Environmentalist: Oh, you know, the usual. Advocating the sustainable management of resources, and the protection—and restoration, when necessary—of the natural environment through changes in public policy and individual behavior.Me: Oh, right. That. (Awkward pause).
Besides, there are plenty of small-scale ways we can all contribute. For instance, when I’m accosted by Greenpeace volunteers on the street, I generally let them get through at least the first 30 seconds of their prepared speech before politely interrupting them with “Sorry! I have a meeting.” Plus, whenever I barbecue, I always make sure to have some of those crappy organic Trader Joe’s veggie-burgers handy to accommodate my small percentage of non-meat eating guests. In fact, some of my very best friends are vegans! And I’ve even deigned to meet them for dinner at trendy, meat-free establishments on more than one occasion. Also? As a lifelong New Yorker, I technically can’t drive or operate any motor vehicles but as soon as I get my license, I fully intend to break for animals. And to purchase a solar-powered car—just as soon as they make one that doesn’t have a battery life of 45 minutes and max out at 35mph.
See what I mean? Look, I’m not saying we shouldn’t all pitch in whenever we can, but we don’t really need to be inundated with “organic” this and “ecosexual” that 24/7 anywhere, do we? These days, you can’t even pick up the newspaper without reading about Sheryl Crow lecturing you on how much toilet paper you’re wasting or Larry David’s wife making you feel like a jackass for occasionally flipping on the light switch or (God forbid!) flushing the toilet every now and again.
Because, despite being predominantly lazy and self-involved myself, I have nothing at all against the concept of “going green.” I’m thrilled Al Gore made a long, boring but extremely informative documentary to help raise awareness for global warming and make environmental consciousness trendy again.* No, it’s the gimmicky nature of it that’s driving me crazy. The innumerable celebrities who flew halfway across their world in their private jets to arrive at their respective Planet Earth concerts in time to perform. The waiter at the organic vegetarian restaurant who rejects your polite request for a club soda because, as he tersely phrases it, “We don’t do carbonation.” The fashion magazine that went green for an entire issue before it went back to destroying the rainforests for the sake of raking in more ad dollars and churning out must-read articles about the return of the high-waisted pant.
And it never ends. One of the top stories on Mediabistro today? “November 8th, the Peacock goes fully green as the entire Thursday night lineup - “The Office,” “My Name Is Earl,” “30 Rock,” “Heroes” and “Deal or No Deal” gets an eco-theme.”
Call me pessimistic, but somehow, I find it hard to believe that NBC’s one night of environmentalist propaganda will drastically change the minds of either the people watching at home or the suits in the corner offices over at the powerful (and electricity hemorrhaging) headquarters of 30 Rock. Unless, of course, the briefcases of cash being handed out on tonight’s episode of Deal or No Deal contain packets of hundred dollar bills printed exclusively on recycled paper. In which case, I humbly stand corrected.
*I even sat through most of it.

1 comment:

Akshaydeep Punj said...

In my opinion, vehicles are a major reason for environment degradation so the first step is to shift to electronic vehicles like electronic cars and Zipee bikes. I've recently bought a Zipee Bike ( and its my first step towards going green. Are you with me guys?