Friday, December 07, 2007

Holy Mother Nature

Some years ago I used to participate in a certain forum for the childfree people. Environmentalists were overrepresented among that crowd; OTOH, there seems to be so many of them everywhere nowadays that maybe they were just normally-represented.

Anyway, there were a lot of people there who said that they don't want children because there are too many people on earth, using too many resources, bad for the environment, etc.,etc.,etc.

I read them somewhat incredulously - do these people really believe it, or expect anyone else to? Not that every single one of them was lying - takes all kinds to make the world, I guess, and surely there must be somebody out there who is so much into environment that he or she makes major life decisions based on environmental reasons - but most people don't base major life decisions on environmentalism, or any kind of public good, or anything of the kind.

Most of the participants of that forum, of course, easily revealed their real reasons once you talked to them a little, and they were invariably normal human reasons: people did not like children that much, or at all, wanted to keep their time and money for themselves, liked uninterrupted sleep, etc. Sort of like almost every American who has ostensibly left the country to protest against Bush just turns out to accidentally have a spouse, job, studies or some other personal interests abroad.

That is normal. That's what humans do. We pursue our own goals and interests, and then try to improve the world if we have some time, money and energy left over. The kind of people who are eager to improve the world rather than their own lives tend to be wild-eyed fanatics whose ideas are so far out that they shouldn't even be allowed to improve the arrangement of the toilet paper on the shelves of their local supermarket, and their grand plans tend to require a lot of unwilling participants.

(My geography teacher in Russia used to tell us that it's ok that we don't have a decent textile industry, because the industries that would allow us to bring Communism to the rest of the world are more important than having pants. It struck me as a very bad idea, regardless of whether one considers bringing Communism to the world a worthy puprose or not. It's hard to improve the world when your ass is freezing, and one should never trust the world-improving efforts of countries whose citizens cannot afford their own trousers.)

But I digress. Lately I've often run into the concept of popular environmentalism as a kind of a replacement for Communism for people who miss it, and have been thinking about it as a sort of a replacement for Christianity for people who miss it too.

It's quite good for this purpose, actually. It even has being born as the Original Sin. (Our existence is a strain on the environment and is sinful as such.) It has a Judgement Day, which is about to come Real Soon Now because we have sinned so much. Best of all, pretty much anything anyone does is sinful, so it provides an unlimited opportunity to condemn everyone you want to condemn for doing anything they do. You can also praise yourself for anything you don't do. You can also feel small, insignificant and unworthy, if you are into that kind of thing. Or virtuous. Whatever rocks your boat.

A few days ago a couple of researchers at Michigan State University figured out that divorce is bad for the environment. Because, you know, two households use more energy and other stuff than one.

Oy vey. I think the fact that two households of one are in every way more expensive than one household of two has been known forever to anyone who has ever paid their own rent or mortgage, which might or might not have included the researchers at Michigan State University. A better question is: what do they expect anyone to do about it? Do they really expect people to stay together for the sake of the environment? Or to start shacking up for environmental reasons? Hmm, would it make a good pickup line. "Would you like to come over and save the environment for one night?"

Well, at least now the new religion disapproves of divorce just like all the old ones.

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