EXPRESS CHECKOUT

Homer the tree-hugger

Posted in Environment, Science + Health by expresscheckout on 29 August, 2006

The Simpsons in Springfield

Welcoming Homer the tree-hugger 
George Meyer 
BBC NEWS
August 3, 2006

Whether you are a hypocrite, a poseur or a plain bozo, the environmental movement needs you, says George Meyer in The Green Room – either that, or a move to Jupiter beckons.

Are you a hypocrite? Because I certainly am.

I’m an animal lover who wears leather shoes; a vegetarian who can’t resist smoked salmon. I badger my friends to see the Al Gore movie, but I also fly on fuel-gulping jets.

Great clouds of hypocrisy swirl around me.

But even a fraud has feelings. And this summer, I’m feeling uneasy; I’m starting to think that our culture’s frenzied and mindless assault on the last shreds of nature may not be the wisest course.

True, when you go for a stroll on a Sunday afternoon, nothing seems amiss.

But as we know from horror movies, that’s exactly when the giant alien embryos come blasting out of the sidewalk.

We’re melting the ice caps, ripping up the rain forest, and vacuuming the oceans of everything that wriggles.

Nanobot rescue

Since I went on my first date in high school – a Foghat concert, if you must know – more than 200 species of frogs have disappeared forever.

Recently, polar bears and hippos were added to the threatened list. Polar bears! Hippos!

Are we really gonna wreck the whole planet? ‘Cause that’s a big move. That’s like something a crazy stripper would do.

I know, plenty of people aren’t worried.

Technology will bail us out. Nothing a few pollution-eating nanobots can’t fix.

And if the ecosystem does collapse, we can always load ourselves into enormous rockets, and make a fresh start on Jupiter.

But here’s the thing: I don’t want to move to Jupiter. I don’t even want to move across town.

Precious knick-knacks would get broken; I’d have to order new stationery.

Let’s be real: even a well-planned move to Jupiter would be stressful, and tough on relationships. For this reason alone, we should not turn the earth into an apocalyptic hellscape.

That said, if we did turn the earth into an apocalyptic hellscape, a sick part of me would find it thrilling.

I would enjoy watching dazed stockbrokers and ad men clawing at the dirt for edible roots. I’d remind them that they’d been warned of their folly, right here on the BBC website.

And they’d all grunt ruefully, and make me their king.

Wide open

Yes, it’s a charming fantasy. But life on a poisoned planet might not be much fun.

Even now, folks are firing missiles at their neighbours. Imagine how grouchy they’ll be when it’s 20 degrees hotter, and the water tastes like turpentine. Huge brawls will erupt over the smallest things, like who’s going to sweep up all the butterfly carcasses.

A bleak picture, to be sure.

If there’s any reason for hope – and there isn’t – it lies in man’s occasional binges of co-operation.

Once in a while, humanity will pull together for a noble cause, like tsunami relief. To save our planet, we’ll need that kind of heroic effort, in which all types of people join forces for the common good.

No, really, I’m serious. For years, the environmental movement has enlisted the world’s most selfless and enlightened souls.

No more. We’re broadening our sights; and by broadening, I mean lowering.

We will now accept:

▪ Ignoramuses

▪ Poseurs

▪ Backstabbers

▪ Know-it-alls

▪ Opportunists

▪ Busybodies

▪ Hypocrites (like me)

▪ People Who Talk a Good Game

▪ Total Nutjobs

It’s wide open. If Michael Crichton ever comes to his senses, we’ll even take him. He’s a big fellow, maybe he can lug around pamphlets or something.

So join us. We won’t judge you. If you are not currently choking a panda, welcome aboard!

George Meyer is a long-time writer on The Simpsons

The Green Room is a series of opinion articles on environmental issues running weekly on the BBC News website

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