Thursday, June 26, 2008

Is the Environment finally winning?

Depends on who you ask.

Perhaps the better question is, "Are the Environmentalists finally winning?"

Every time you turn on the television there is another company, brand, or famous person proclaiming the benefits of "going green". While this is not a new occurrence, the shear number of said happenings is staggering these days. What is even more staggering is the reason for what you're seeing on TV. But more on that later.

When I say "winning" what do I mean? The environmentalist movement has been battling for your heart and mind since the 60s. Up until recently the battle has been, for the most part, uphill. Sure there have been some aerosol victories here and there. Yes, recycling is a big hit. Now, tuna is dolphin safe. But on the whole environmentalism has not been a major consideration in popular opinion. They have banged their drum, we have stopped to notice, and then returned to our lives unaffected.

I hearken you back to the years of "Save the Planet". A fair attempt by hippies to persuade the masses to take protective action on behalf of mother earth. This initiative fell short of a ground swell response. The main reason: too much scolding not enough sense-making. The populous was tired of being brow-beaten for all of the world's ills and was completely turned off to the message. With no one to listen to them, the beatniks beat it.

Then came the global cooling scare of the 1970s. Yep, for a few short years the natural community stepped to the plate wielding this little beauty. But this too, like so many other plights, failed to resonate with the vast majority of the American public. This time, the problem and its solution seemed too daunting for any one person to do anything about. A sentiment that is correct on so many levels. The activists got the point and shut up.

Lest we forget the hole in the o-zone layer of the late 1980s and early 90s. I swear when I was in sixth grade I was convinced that all of the girls in my youth group were guilty of my impending death thanks to the pounds of Aqua-net they put in their hair. I was sure I would be killed by skin cancer before my 12th birthday. That and Antarctica would be gone by the time I learned to drive. Of course neither happened. Few listened and the messengers got quiet.

The early 2000s brought a new message of mass hysteria. This time it was global warming. Probably the most formidable dreck of propaganda to date thanks in no small way to the ever stimulating wordsmith himself Al Gore and his wildly popular mockumentary, "An Inconvenient Truth". Top that off with the IPCC's findings that man was responsible for the degradation of the climate (imagine that) and you've got a massive campaign that could really make people freak...I mean think.

But this scheme too would fall victim to the truth. If the temperature isn't rising everywhere, then it can't be global warming. It's not so it isn't. Also, you can't swing a cat these days without hitting a scientist who has removed his/her name from the report thanks to it's wildly irresponsible accusations and highly speculative "scientific statistics and figures". As had all the others, this rallying cry too went silent.

However "global warming" morphed to "climate change " which is no better seeing as it is an oxymoron. Redundant if you will (and I will). The climate has always been in a constant state of change and it will be that way until Earth no longer exists (most scientists believe this will happen when the sun expands and swallows Mercury, Venus and Earth in several billion years).

Try as they might, the tree huggers are losing. That is until now.

There is one message from the environmentalist movement that is markedly different than all the others. This one refrains from placing blame on mankind. The marketing machine has not gone the way of a crying Native American standing on a roadside that is littered with garbage. No, my friends, this grass roots campaign has swept through the country and has not lost its steam. It is changing the way we live, the way we think, and the way we raise our children. What is this message?

It is two words: "Energy Efficient".

These two words are reverberating in American ears unlike any other Sierra Club attempt. Even the mildly popular "Go Green" can't top the massive response to changing the way we use, produce, and store energy. Car manufacturers are shutting down SUV and truck assembly plants and cranking out 2 and four-door sedans and smaller, more fuel efficient hybrids. Solar energy has more R&D money flowing into it than ever before.

Even oil companies such as BP and Marathon are researching new technologies for alternative energy sources as well as how to use different types of crude that we can't yet get to.

People are shutting off lights when leaving rooms and putting their work computers on standby when going to lunch. More and more folks are buying more fuel efficient cars or are plugging into mass transit systems. Motorcycle sales have skyrocketed in recent months and not since Plymouth Rock has corn played such an important role in the future of this country. Neighborhoods are featuring more and more bike riders every week.

Without "Energy Efficient" we would have never heard of E-85 or bio diesel let alone hybrid. Why even the car that runs on water is showing some promise in laboratory testing.

With this newly found sense of pride in reducing, reusing and recycling you would think that the green crowd would be thrusting their fists in the air in triumph.

While a few are, the rest know the dirty little secret to all of this success and it has nothing to do with wanting to save the polar bears or heal the earth.

What's the only reason for all of the environmental awareness?

Finally, after forty years of being told how bad we are and how costly it is going to be to fix the planet, it is actually saving you green to go green.

And that's the matter who you ask!

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