I don‘t have cable, so when I go home on breaks and watch TV it‘s always a bit surreal to see how far gone we are. Especially the advertising. I mean, there I am, waiting to be told how to feel about myself and suddenly I hear that if I take this one pill I‘ll be “sleepwalking and eating or driving while not fully awake with amnesia for the event.” I heard that, froze and blacked out.
When I came to, I realized: a) I could murder the person who created the ad, claim to be on their drug and totally get away with it and b) I had begun fashioning a noose from my own shoe strings. I haven‘t taken Ambien since.
Then I saw some other ad about some polar bear on some ice sheet dying “cause of something I did or wasn‘t doing or someshit.“ Then came the report about the 1,600 papier-måché pandas set up in Paris to make me feel guilty that there are only 1,600 real pandas left, which was followed by the story about hippies bitching at the Navy for using SONAR and making a bunch of whales trip out thinking they were in Das Boot.
Dude, I could give two sharts and a nocturnal emission about pandas and polar bears and whales. There‘s just over 100,000 left in the world combined. Some see that number as reason to spend millions on “awareness,“ but to me it‘s reason to stop wasting resources on lost causes. These species are practically a nonissue; their status as top predators make them the least ecologically important and really only useful for marketing purposes at Marine World.
Look, when habitat is gone, it‘s gone. And since an ecosystem is constantly in flux, we can‘t assume that 50, 100 or even 1,000 years before we started altering it, it was “normal.“ So any changes we make attempting to “fix“ it will feed back, eventually on us. The CIA calls this “blowback.“ Instead of managing ecosystems to fit our expectations, thus making them dependant on us, we should let nature be and shift our focus from remediation to prevention.
We gotta pick our battles here; the oceans are rapidly acidifying, directly threatening the entire marine food web (especially corals and other calcified groups which tend to dissolve like Tums) and we‘re all fidgety about the Delta Smelt? Please.
If you want me to buy into conservation, explain to me that ending sprawl isn‘t about saving the few trees we‘d cut down and name streets after. It‘s about the total decimation wrought by clear cutting for lumber; strip mining for concrete, copper, coal and iron; watershed diversion and spoilage; chronic drought and all the other crap facilitating that suburb, that business park, that “green“ Target.
Explain that the chemical industry, a contaminated food supply and the rising burden of health care costs are connected. Explain that industrial agriculture, marine dead zones, crashing fish stocks, unemployed fishermen and depressed wages are connected. Explain that anti-regulatory think tank titan George Gray managing the Environmental Privatization Agency‘s chemical standards and the unregulated perchlorate in half the nation‘s drinking water are connected. Explain that if we got electric cars on the road and converted to renewable and nuclear power we‘d cut green house gas emissions by 51 percent and much of the $14 to $55 billion annual health care cost of outdoor air pollution.
Putting cute little animals on the iceberg that killed Leonardo DiCaprio to get attention trivializes the importance of the issues we‘re facing. People need to see how their lives are impacted by lax environmental regulations or they won‘t put pressure on the real culprits: industry, energy and government. We want people Googling “deforestation,“ “water scarcity“ and “sustainable agriculture“ not “polar bear commercial.“ Yet that‘s what these ads do, which is why I suspect Coca-Cola is secretly behind the whole operation.
I‘ll sum up with two quotes. One: “I‘ll start taking shorter showers when developers stop getting building permits.“ That One: “We can‘t solve global warming because I fucking changed light bulbs in my house.“
Hopefully, That One will change some other things instead.
K.C. CODY will return to the differences between objectivism and the real world next year. Sad pandas can talk to his inbox at firstname.lastname@example.org.