Friday, May 23, 2008

The Gossip and the Green

Eradicating vice from our daily life is an onerous task. The devil in many lives, my own included, is the daily dose of gossip and erroneous language that passes from mouth to mouth, infiltrating and infecting the wrinkled gray matter of everyone it contacts. Like a computer virus traveling by email, gossip races across its course with alarming speed and even more frightening it travels over multiple race courses, proving it possesses far more lives than the ordinary house cat. The vice of gossip is often attributed to housewives and women with nothing better to do with their time. The sexist notion wrapped therein is demonstrably false by simple observation. Men delight in gossip just the same as women. It is a non-biased stain on both genders.

Let’s talk about gossip and the green.

Recently, the American Institute of Architects instituted a new requirement for its membership to earn continuing education credits in sustainable design, a code phrase for ‘green movement architecture’.

This comes on the 15 year old heels of the requirement for continuing education in the first place which produced a vast array of education providers feasting on the Architect’s dutifully coughed up seminar money. Green is now gospel. Throughout the streets of America folks are wearing their ‘go green’ t-shirts with smug smiles of self indulgent pride in their do-goodness.

Now begins the task of preparing for the commercialism of the green movement. Look around and gather the easily apparent clues of the blossoming attempt to take your money and mine by promoting the ‘green movement’ in products. Stand back as the green commercial stampede claims its victims. This cascading phenomenon is firmly rooted in the fantastically fertile mixture of capitalism and gossip.

There are only a limited number of scientists with the credentials to understand the impact of man’s activities on the future of our planet. In reading what some of them have to say I have discovered they possess a large measure of humility, often stating directly that they are unsure of the results gathered at the end of their well intended and carefully controlled scientific pursuits. This appears to be a way of saying that they understand nature and science, but do not own the skills to extrapolate the longevity of the polar ice cap and other geographies from the gathered data. I also read disagreement among a few of the less humble scientists. One group espousing the coming doom, the other group lecturing to hang on a minute before you take the next flight to Mars; another way of saying that not even the brightest knows for sure what our future holds. The less objective of the scientist and the non-scientist shills with a platform use the whole discussion for personal gain. Al Gore secures a new fortune by preaching the coming firestorm. Rush Limbaugh pontificates that global warming is a complete hoax though my research shows he has no scientific training. Michael Moore continues to muddy reality with multiple lies disguised as truth, a fact well documented, aimed at the youthful, the ignorant and the blissfully absorbent and angry rebels in need of a cause.

None of the three individuals I mentioned has a scientific pedigree to make any statement whatsoever that should cause anyone to pay attention. The corollary that comes to mind is that this is the same as if your bank teller has diagnosed you with a malignant brain tumor.

My position in all of this ‘g-warming’ discussion is a simple one. I don’t know because I don’t have the credentials or scientific intelligence to know. A good portion of the reports I read I don’t even understand due to a lack of scientific background.

I consider the discussion analogous to gossip. Rush wants his listeners to believe in the hoax of the movement. Former VP Gore wants his listeners to believe the earth hangs in the balance of buying his book and stabilizing his legacy. This is the common form of gossip. It is the spreading of words, not dipped in the well of truth, being nonetheless orated as though it were true beyond any doubt. The listener believes it as truth, then passes it along to the next gossip participant. The underlying premise that this is a giant hoax or else a 180 degree opposite calamity with earth in the balance strains a rational man’s patience.

And so I am now stuck, with equal parts of amusement and disgust, as I watch the green movement turn into a products parade. The fertile mixture of gossip and capitalism tilled together, reaping a giant harvest of the ignorant and absorbent souls of our world wearing their new $21.95 “Go Green” t-shirts. Al Gore stares back at me from the cover of his apocalyptic revelation. Michael Moore apparently continues to harbor a misplaced need to unleash his vast anger and corpulent image on the general public. Rush smokes his cigar after lighting it with a $1,000 bill and smiles as he reminds the largest radio audience in America that it is all a hoax. And now, to continue being an Architect in good standing I have to sit in a CE class with a lecturer half my age teaching me how to collect rainwater from the roof, drain it into a cistern and wash my hair with it as though it were actually complicated and had not been first accomplished around 900 BC. The fact that I have no hair is seemingly immaterial in the face of this hurricane of gossip and fresh t-shirts.

Doubt me? Look around your local stores carefully at how many products are now “green’ though nothing really changed. I saw a plumber’s truck on the highways of Dallas yesterday with fresh painting on the sides declaring he was a ‘green plumber’, whatever the hell that might be. It‘s only the beginning.

Resist. Admit your scientific ignorance and save yourself a bundle, and if not money, maybe you can save yourself a lot of misplaced energy and frustration. Can we acknowledge there may be intelligence illustrated in knowing what we do not know?

Enjoy the sunset tonight instead of MSNBC. Yes, the sunrise and sunset are still out there, and that's not gossip. Its fact.


Rick said...

Green plumbers are the ones who charge you $400/hr to tie your sewage line into your lawn sprinklers.

Reach said...

I believe "Green" should be discussed in relation to situation awareness. Yes, collecting rain water on one's roof is a great idea for those who live on an island; as opposed to someone who lives in LA. Yuck

History repeats itself- in the 50's it was Aliens, or the Russians. In the 60's, "The Man", 70's, "War", etc. etc. Now, it is the environment. It appears the "Nature Loving" Hippies of the 60's have sold out to the "System" and are now in control. Only joking(PC)

Lynilu said...

Living in an arid area as I do, I've become ever more aware of my environment, and as I do I become "greener," but because of common sense, not hype. For instance, using a cistern to collect water for gardening makes great sense. I won't wash my hair in it, thank you.

Having lived 30 years in a metropolitan area where I put my trash at the curb and it magically disappeared, I didn't give much thought to what happens once it leaves my property. I didn't pay visits to landfills. Ick. Here I'm aware of the trash hauled to the giant dumpsters by my neighbors and myself, and when I lift the lid to chuck in my own plastic bag filled with discarded treasures, I am aware of the accumulated waste.

I've chosen to be "greener." I now decline "paper or plastic," other than occasions when I forget to carry my reusable canvas bags to the car before I leave. Frankly, I have more of those plastic shopping bags in my house now than I will be likely to use in the next year anyway, and I've seen too many of them blowing across the landscape or caught up in a barbed wire fence or twisted around a cactus of scrub bush. Some people don't care for this kind of landscape; I love it, but not with plastic six-pack holders tossed around where an animal ... or myself ... might become entangled and injured. I see no reason to NOT collect rainwater for watering plants or for watering the wildlife during droughts.

My life is different that that of a city dweller. I used to turn on the tap and never give a fleeting thought to the value of the water. I do now. My water comes from a well, tapped into an aquifer of huge capacity, relatively speaking. But when a mining company wants to rip thousands of acres from the beautiful foothills in search of precious metals, I fight like a she-wolf. I love my jewelry, but there isn't exactly a shortage of gold and silver out there. In the process of mining, the water supply that I depend on will be used to process the metals. (1) I don't trust that the mining company cares about quality or quantity of my drinking water and (2) I don't trust them to avoid the chemical seepage that could contaminate that water. They will be gone in about 12 years; I hope to drink that water for another 20, at least.

I could go on (and I know I already have "gone on"), but suffice it to say that I will be as green as I can, to respect the land, to work with the elements rather than against them, and preserve what I can for the small future I have, but also for generations to come. It is simply easier to ignore the basic facts when a municipality takes care of these issues for you, but it would be wonderful if the 2 million people in KC or the 6 million in Dallas/Ft. Worth or the 12 million in LA understood the *balance* involved.

And BTW, I'm working on a small cistern system for my "dry weather watering."

On a side note, I've given much thought to the differences between our current day respect for the land and that of our forerunners, especially those on Native American lineage. We are inclined to use something once and toss it rather than finding a second or third or twentieth use for it. And each item we toss immediately becomes two or three or twenty times the refuse and an equal need for replacement. IMO, the problem is that each of us excuses our own waste because we don't see and consider the cumulative effect.

I can't argue with or against any of the names you mention. And like them, I have no scientific background to back my decisions. I'm using what people used before the age of opulence .... common sense.

Good topic. But you need to think on a more global level, dear, or as we say in my profession (ret.), think out of "your" box! LOL!

Anonymous said...

Good comments Lynilu! I believe the "green" movement is a major paradigm shift that will eventually rejuvinate the American econony once everyone gets on-board. It's a lot like what's happening in the internet age. All kinds of stuff is happening and there seems to be no end yet. Who would or could go back to the old days? Now, the old days can actually teach us something about being "green" but in a more hi-tech reference. Ecology and economy have the same root word 'eco', meaning home. If sustainability is home-centered, then we will be more efficient and capture future savings for your family legacy. If we (you) are not mindful of this now, we (you)will bankrupt our (your) next generation, and they will be justified in asking, how could you let this happen to me when you knew what to do then?

kathi said...

LOL, I think I've seen that same plumbers truck or trucks in Dallas lately and have wondered the same thing. Maybe they're using friendlier chemicals or something, dunno.
My youngest son is big into 'green' and I'm not going to discourage it. He is the next generation and all, maybe he'll help figure it all out. A girl can dream. I do draw the line at spending a lot more money, though, to go green when I can't see where anyone benefits except for the supplier. :)