Sunday, May 22, 2011

Weird World

The world of environmentalism is a weird one, full of surprises, unexpected juxtapositions and reversals, random facts and realizations. Here are three recent examples:

1. I was driving home a few days ago in blinding rain when it occurred to me that what I was seeing (or, actually, not seeing) was the climate I'm going to be living with for the rest of my life. We all know how rainy it's been in the northeast and the south, how strange the weather patterns have been; we remark about it all the time. But it doesn't strike most of us that the reason the weather's so weird is that the climate has changed; we keep waiting for global warming to happen, not realizing it already has. Weather is the veil of climate: it hides the bigger picture we can't see. But at the same time, weather is the sign of climate: it reveals what we can't see. If the weather is weird--and it is--a weird climate lies just behind.

2. I recently learned of a company, Terracycle, that will turn those pesky juice pouches into kid-friendly products (pencil cases, etc.). If you sign up online, your school gets a few pennies per pouch donated. On the face of it, this sounds like a good thing. But then you have to ask yourself: why are juice pouches manufactured in such a way that they're not recyclable by usual means? And is not the promise to recycle the things into yet another consumer product a way of convincing people to buy non-recyclable items, guilt-free? My advice to anyone who worries about juice pouches being thrown into landfills: don't buy the damn things in the first place.

3. A few weeks ago, I attended an event concerning the Marcellus Shale. One of the speakers delivered a passionate address against drilling; she waxed eloquent about the "poisons we're pumping into our chilren's bodies," and she presented herself as a staunch foe of corporate greed, indifference, and propaganda. After the event, I went to congratulate her on her speech. I found her outside, smoking a cigarette.

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