MY LAUGH OF the day comes from a New York Times piece on “environmentalists” in the Seattle area practicing for a massive kayak flotilla event next Saturday to protest the plans by Shell Oil to lease a terminal at the Port of Seattle for its Arctic drilling fleet.
They call themselves “kayactivists” and their effort the “ShellNo Flotilla.” According to The Times, they plan to attract more than 1,000 kayaks and other small boats, not just from Seattle, but from all over the Northwest. Some people are even talking about physically blocking Shell ships.
The article had plenty of quotes from these self-proclaimed friends of the Earth about their noble ideals and the need to protect the world from Big Bad Oil.
None of those quoted said anything about taking personal steps to cut down on their use of fossil fuel or energy in general so that we don’t have to be so dependent on Big Oil. Presumably the reporter didn’t as them about that, nor about how all of them are getting to the harbor from their homes and about how much fuel they will be using to get there.
The reporter seemingly found no irony in quoting a couple of people from Portland, Oregon who are planning to make the three-hour drive to participate in the flotilla. A three-hour drive!
THAT’S THE TROUBLE with this country’s “environmentalists”: they will do anything to rail and rant against oil and natural gas drilling and against coal mining – especially if it gets them in the newspaper or on the evening news, but when it comes to actually conserving energy, well, that’s somebody else’s job.
We could dismiss this as typical Northwest nuttiness, but it’s the same all over the country. It’s not our fault that we “need” to get in our cars to drive to another part of town or across the city or state – or across the country. We have to. And who’s fault is it? Why, it’s Big Oil’s fault, of course. Big Oil is providing the energy. It’s like drug users blaming the drug producers and pushers for their habit.
Hollywood luminaries such as Mark Ruffalo, Leonardo DeCaprio, Robert Redford and others have being beatified as environmental saits because of their outspokenness for the Earth — despite the fact they fly all around the globe on their private planes.
Typical is Laurie David, ex-wife of Larry David, who is extremely outspoken about fossil fuels. Yet she admitted in 2006, in an interview with The Guardian, that she owned homes on both coasts and that she flies a private jet several times a year to get from one house to the other.
“Yes, I take a private plane on holiday a couple of times a year, and I feel horribly guilty about it. I probably shouldn’t do it. But the truth is, I’m not perfect. This is not about perfection. I don’t expect anybody else to be perfect either. That’s what hurts the environmental movement – holding people to a standard they cannot meet. That just pushes people away.”
OF COURSE, SOME, of us drive Priuses, electric cars and other energy-efficient vehicles, but we still drive. We still use energy. Even electrical energy comes from somewhere. Some of it may come from dams, the sun, or the wind — or nuclear plants — but most of our electrical energy still comes from coal and natural gas.
Not only that, many of us still get on huge fossil fuel-guzzling airplanes to distant destinations for pleasure trips and even business trips that really, when it comes down to it, do not need to be taken.
We still cool and warm our homes and work spaces whether they need to be warmed or cool. We continue to buy more and more devices that need to be plugged in or charged up. Many of those things come from Amazon and other on-line outfits that ship those products to us on energy-eating planes and trucks.
Heaven forbid that people be asked to sacrifice. Not flying on private jets to and from your various homes is certainly a standard that can be met. So are a whole slew of other standards that would cut down on our dependence on fossil fuels. Holding people up to those standards is not what hurts the environmental movement. It’s our hypocrisy.
It’s so much easier to blame the oil companies. Now they can be held to standards. It’s so much easier to demand that they stop producing all that oil and gas we use. Failing that, it’s so much easier to demand that our government force them to stop.
I SPENT SOME 14 years flacking for Big Oil, but as my friends know, I had these feelings about environmentalists way before I worked for the industry. Working for the industry only made me much more aware of the vacuous nature of their complaints.
For the record, I do believe that we are using too much fossil fuel and I do believe that there are many things that all of us, together, can do to get us away from using so much of it. And I know that, contrary to what most people believe, oil companies are spending billions and billions of dollars to research ways to provide consumers with cleaner energy.
And I believe that the goal of a cleaner Earth can be accomplished if we, all of us – the environmental movement included – were to spend more energy educating the world on the need to cut back on energy use and how to do it.
Think about it: when was the last time you saw an ad paid for by an environmental organization encouraging you to use less energy?
If the billions of dollars spent each year by the hundreds of environmental organizations on salaries and PR campaigns against the oil industry – like the one in Seattle — were instead used on a protracted and unrelenting campaign to educate us on how to be better stewards of this Earth, we could begin to finally see a real change.