Why Bother?

I just read this article on climate change and it asks the question, “why bother?” Meaning why bother living a green lifestyle when the world is going to hell in a hand basket anyway?

After all, there is what I like to refer to as Glinchy’s Law of Fossil Fuels, “It will all be burned. All of it. No matter what laws are passed. No matter how many Prius’s you drive. No matter how many people cry about the baby seals in Alaska. Even if all of North America committed mass suicide by crashing our Hummers into one another then shooting the survivors, someone else in the world would come and take all our fossils and burn them.”

So I am pretty much as pessimistic as one could get about the whole global warming thang. On the other hand, I have never asked myself the question, “why bother.” I’m too busy asking, “what kind of impact am I making on my life and on others.” This question pretty much crowds out the “why bother” question.

I don’t own a car. I ride a bike. I eat local. I don’t buy magazines and very, very few consumer goods. Mostly I get stuff second hand. Why do I do this? I don’t know. This is the life I have chosen to live. I am happy in my lifestyle. I hate driving. I think consumers are idiots.

People like Pollan in the article kind of assume that living in a green lifestyle is some kind of self-deprivation and self-imposed suffering. When I watch a TV show, I don’t ask, “why bother” not everyone is going to care if Buffy gets away from her demon room mate or not. But I still watch.

But you might say, Buffy has nothing to do with saving the world. Wrong. She saves the world every episode. She risks her life not asking whether she should bother or not because people are really snippy about her clothing. She saves them anyway.

This is similar to the Buddhist philosophy that I love. You must act in a correct way no matter what. The world is sight and sound and it will try to confuse you. Do not be confused. Be still in yourself, believe what you believe no matter what sights and sounds occur around you.

If you think of acting in an environmentally correct manner is suffering, I say, “don’t do it.” If you think driving a Hummer will make you estatically happy–even if it ruins the world–buy one. Right away. Do not hesitate.

Burn all the oil you wish if this is the way you think is right. Do not be green and bitch that it’s a burden. It is not. It’s only the way that you want to live.

I think that the biggest problem with environmentalism is that people are too concerned about other people and not concerned enough about themselves. Yes, acting well might set a good example. It might get people to laugh in your face as they toss a beer can out of their Hummer and spew noxious gas in your face.

I have been talking about biking for ten years and everyone laughed at me. My closest friends, my family, everyone. There are only two people who listened to me. One I married. The other is a very close friend: Chuy Carnicero.

But now gasoline is going to go up to $4.00 a gallon. I know it is wrong, but each time I think of this I gain an incredible sense of satisfaction and peace. I’m happy how things are right now. It looks as if things are only going to get better. So when people buzz me, I think of two things. I focus peace, love, and happiness in that person behind the wheel even as they jeer at me. And I pray that oil reaches $10.00 a gallon. We’d all be better off when it does.

So here’s my take. All this environmentalism, to me has reached one point. That is a big ass punchline.



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