A Window into Life in the Suburbs

"Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these." Luke 12:27 (NIV)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Environmental Tokenism

So Earth Day has come and gone for the fortieth time... and pardon me while I do my best Ebenezer Scrooge imitation...

Once upon a time, I did think that there was something to global environmentalism and all its different manifestations but more and more, it seems to be nothing more than a token religious gesture for rich, atheistic types looking to unload their guilt into a cause that would redeem them from having more dollars than sense.

I have nothing against conservation or doing commonsensical things with pollution, waste products and resources. Goodness knows we can always do better in those areas. In my case I learnt everything about dealing with waste paper from spartan relatives who lived through the Japanese Occupation and postwar years. They didn't call it "being green" -- just good o'l common sense frugality learnt from belt-tightening days.

I'm all for using renewable energy within reason but I am really, really tired of rich and powerful people telling us plebs that we need to "reduce our carbon footprint" when they have no trouble flying around the world in their private jets under the guise of "raising awareness". That was one of my problems with the Copenhagen summit at the end of last year. Thousands of delegates descending on the Danish capital with aeroplanes and limousines adding carbon dioxide into the atmosphere -- for a climate change talkfest that was doomed to fail.

Actually, I don't suffer from an overabundance of wealth envy nor do I have issues with private jets... My main beef is with a new kind of Pharasaical hypocrisy that claims a kind of moral high ground on environmental sins. A recent study by a couple of researchers at the University of Toronto has noted that environmental do-gooders does not equal ethically good people.

While I cringe at the silly antics of the rich and famous that grab the headlines, I don't have issues if they want to bow at the altar of environmentalism as many of them are deigned to do. But I do object to being dragged before their aforesaid altar just so that they can appease their consciences through some kind punitive carbon credits system that would probably end up filling the pockets of bankers and doing zip for the environment.

My feeling is that most of us, who live in so-called developed countries, do what we can within our means. We support recycling, we use "green" bags and we try our best to teach our children to be sensible about possessions and money.  Regulations and propaganda can only do so much... unless of course, we want to start dictating to people about how they should live which is dangerous territory to start sliding into.

I don't pretend to be good or consistent with the environmental stuff. But I know that I would rather not be spending all my time in the ensuite bemoaning the effects of poor quality drinking water or see hamburger wraps or drink cans lying on our front pavement. Even less attractive to me, is seeing a rat run across the room while I'm having dinner at a restaurant. Those are far more powerful motivators to act from than an airy fairy doctrine of "saving the planet" (whatever that means) that goes in one ear and out the other.

Just because some of us don't see the world through an environmental worldview it means that we don't care. We care because... "The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it" (Psalm 24:1, NIV) ... particularly because of the people who live in it.


  1. Well said! We need to be good stewards of what God has given to us, and that includes the planet we live on. Personally, I think the environmental jargon is just that, and like you mentioned "a token religious gesture for rich, atheistic types looking to unload their guilt into a cause that would redeem them from having more dollars than sense." Terms like 'carbon footprint' etc seem to be another fad phrase that is thrown about. I'm not an environmental activist as such, but am teaching my kids to do things responsibly in looking after this beautiful earth. Great post!

  2. That's the best we can do really... teach our kids through example to be responsible with the resources that we have.
    Thanks for commenting.


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