Sunday, March 1, 2009

Pollyanna All Grown Up

You know how irritating it is when you got up at 5:30 a.m. & someone complains about getting up before noon? That's how I feel about the "Go Green" and "Stop Global Warming" movements. See, in the summer of 2001 I was a 21-yr old bright-eyed canvasser for the Florida Consumer Action Network (FCAN) for roughly a month. We were trying to get TECO to upgrade the coal filtering system on a nearby power plant whose out-dated technology was exempt from EPA regulations because it had been grandfathered under the Clean Air Act. FCAN had science on our side, and the mission at hand was small, attainable (they did finally make TECO retrofit the plants), and non-threatening to the status quo. As a canvasser, my job was to educate the public, get them to write petition letters, and solicit donations preferably $15 or more. The "public" was different middle class neighborhoods in the Tampa Bay area, some of which were close enough to the TECO power plant that you could see smoke stack over rooftops. I thought the job would be a cinch.

I was cussed out, got doors slammed in my face, was called a liar, and even worse, I was educated that people can be so cold that even when they didn't attack message or messenger they were still not moved to do a darned thing about their own environments--an insight into how people can not vote in their own interest. On my last day of canvassing under the hot Florida sun my only donation and letter came from a teenage girl who worked at Pizza Hut. After four hours of solid "no's" and a particularly rude old lady who husband was on an oxygen machine, I was crying on a curbside. My lesson learned was that the adult world didn't want to hear an inconvenient truth. I had a little hope for the upcoming generation but concluded that if our parents and grandparents wanted to breath dirty air that increased sickness in the elderly and infants, then they deserved what they got.

Fast-forward to the present, and I feel like I did as a 2002 peace protester by the time the general population questioned the Iraq war in 2007. Sure, you are better late than never, but while I was arguing with you hard-heads, look how much worse the problem has become. What I have now is not hope but apathy. I'm glad the general population wants to go green and wants to save polar bears and virgin rainforests and water sources, and I believe that every small change we make has a small effect on the world (as a vegetarian I save roughly 100 animal lives a year), but for most people environmental issues are a sexy fad that environmentalists are wise to capitalize on to get as much change on the books as they can. I'd love to be proven wrong, but I won't be holding my breath. I will however be reading Fringe Magazine's environment issue!

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