It’s nothing new to quote comedians who say things that are in tune with our own philosophy and ideology. In fact, it’s become so commonplace, it kind of feels like a lazy tactic to “prove” one’s own argument these days. For example, “South Park is SO spot on this season!” can be translated into plain English as, “South Park is saying things that I agree with!” What makes this quarter-century old clip from George Carlin so unique, is that he goes after a group that normally WOULD be in agreement with the types of things that he says- environmentalists. Carlin, like many comedians (and entertainers in general), was very much on the left on most issues, particularly social ones. But he was far from lockstep, which is one of many reasons why he was so great at what he did. Nowadays, he’d probably be labeled a climate change denier for making such claims, but his real message wasn’t about what was being done to the environment, but those who were trying to stop “it” from happening- whatever “it” may have been.
But this post isn’t primarily about George Carlin, or even yet another tired old argument about climate change- or “global warming”, as it used to be known as- which became an all-too-binary discussion all-too-long ago. In other words, most people think of climate change as either, “a hoax, from people that want to control your lives!” or “the cause our impending doom, which is clearly the fault of the denier and corporations!” The real issue is- or at least, should be– more nuanced. But this is 2017, and we don’t DO nuance very well in 2017.
Also being 2017, the problem has to be tied as tightly to President Donald Trump as possible. CNN’s Van Jones, normally one of the few seemingly reasonable commentators, sadly went off the rails a few weeks back, claiming that Trump, “may have just signed a death warrant for our planet”. At a bare minimum, coupled with the accompanying link about how “Trump’s climate policies put China in charge of our future“, this shows American arrogance at its finest, demonstrating yet again that “patriotic” conservatives don’t have a monopoly on this trait. How is a domestic policy supposed to single-handedly destroy the Earth’s environment? Donald Trump is an overbearing figure, but we’ve been destroying the planet longer than he’s been alive, let alone in power. And even assuming, just for the sake of argument, that Trump’s policy is as dangerous to the environment as Jones and so many others believe, how can ANY American policy stop the emerging world from doing what this country has done for nearly two centuries- that is, build an affluent, advanced society at the expense of the environment? Sure, it’s great for us to now say, “Gosh, planet, sorry we’ve screwed things up- but from now on, we’ll behave better- so you’d better do the same!” We’ve already gained the benefits of modernization, with all the unfortunate side effects of pollution that come with it. And now, we’re just going to wag our fingers at everyone else for doing the same thing? What makes ANYONE think that the rest of the world will go along with these grandiose regulations?
But even putting aside the hypocrisy of modern American environmentalism, as our society has benefited more from pollution than just about anyone else’s, what if we were just to start over? What if we just started doing “the right thing” now? What if we just didn’t pay attention to what was going on with the E.P.A., and became serious about making a positive contribution in our own, personal lives? Are we willing to do that? From what I can tell, based on a real life occurrence that was the catalyst for this entire post, the answer is absolutely not.
Nearly a hundred years after becoming a major city, Los Angeles has finally been making decent headway into expanding its Metrorail, the city’s mass transit railroad system that covers barely more than 10% of New York’s subway system. (Still, better late than never.) Along the Expo Line, which goes from Santa Monica into downtown LA, Culver City had become a major stop along the middle of the line, complete with hundreds of parking space. The Metrorail is not exactly a bullet train, so one of the major selling points for even using the train is parking.
So much for that idea. Not more than 5 years after the station opened, Culver City is now tearing down the parking lot for- you guessed it- shops and condos, because if there’s one thing LA needs more of, it’s shops and condos. *ahem* So where was the outrage over this? On Twitter- normally a breeding ground for the masses to vent out- the number of complaints could be counted on one hand. For one of the few people who DID criticize them for this move, correctly accusing LA Metro of discouraging people from taking the train, Metro responded with a 21st century version of “Let them eat cake”, essentially saying that anyone who lived in the new condos would have easy access to the train. Technically that’s true, but it’s also not reassuring for the 95% or so who won’t be living in or near the new development, that are also looking to use that train stop. Perhaps this would’ve generated more outrage- or any outrage, for that matter- if Kellyanne Conway had given such an absurd response. But since most people would rather have more fancy shops and condos over a large parking lot to take the train, it really isn’t that big a deal. (The breakneck speed that these stores and condos are getting built, not 10 years after the last time this scheme fell apart, is a whole other story.)
The bottom line is that it may be well-intentioned to criticize others for not doing their fair share for keeping the Earth cleaner than how they found it- or at least, making sure it doesn’t get any dirtier. But before that happens, try considering whatever small part YOU can play in helping out…and sorry, but mocking the Trump administration on Facebook for alternative facts or bad policy doesn’t count.