Everywhere you turn, green is on the minds of the human race. Global warming, skyrocketing oil prices, smog choked air; it is all finally coming to a head. For many of us this is our second really serious environmental movement. We can remember back in the early seventies the effects of the hippies, they had us stop littering and returning our pop cans for a nickel. Grade schools tried to convince to place solar panels on our roofs, and buying smaller cars. And it all worked for awhile.
But alas Reagan came into power and the contrast of the hippie was created, he was the yuppie. They were the same people more or less, but now instead of ingesting hallucinogens and taking part in orgiastic rituals in the back of a tie dye painted school bus, they erupted onto the capitalistic scene in a rage not seen since the twenties. Working around the clock pulling down enviable salaries and bonuses, and then buying up stocks of high tech start ups like they were LSD. Yuppies raised the entire standard of living of a generation of people throughout the free world. Yes, the trickle down did almost dry up, but check your facts even the poorest among us are better off post eighties then before.
During this time of me firstism, the environment took a hit. Yes, we tried to save the rainforest, we sent checks, we read our labels on fine furniture, but by and large we went about our business. We bought SUV’s, big screens, computers, appliances, took trips, bought yachts, and pretended paradise was a place on Earth and it would last forever.
Enter sobriety. The good times did not last, children were shooting their schools up, and we began to feel guilty. The dot coms crashed, and war began to break out at alarming rates. People like scientists and terrorists got our attention and we realized that there was a price to pay for me first. Dammit anyhow.
Fast forward to 2007, here comes the environmental movement again, just in the nick of time. Polar ice caps are disappearing, holes in the ozone, devastating hurricanes demolish cities built below sea level, and we need to fix it. But how? This problem is bigger than unsightly litter; this is the very livability of our planet.
The stage is set for a hero to rally around, a catalytic personality whose charisma and logic persuade us to see beyond our next trip to the mall. Who will this person be? One so charming, so effervescent, that we will once and for all realize our actions today have an impact beyond next week? Who will finally make us do the right thing? Believe it or not it just might be Al Gore. Turns out he is smarter than we all thought. He wrote a book, and as luck would have it he is liberal so Hollywood helped him make a movie.
We all thought about our wasteful ways and vowed to do better. But as we have seen guilt only goes so far. Sooner or later we would return to our merry ways of indulging our whims at the price of the environment. But the ball is rolling; nothing feeds social movement faster than what is seen as the cool thing to do. And if Hollywood is doing it then it is cool.
But cool wears out, cool changes like the wind. What doesn’t change is our love for money. $ 3 a gallon gas hurts, we buy smaller cars. It is cool and saves us money, different from the Hummer, which used to be cool and costs a lot of money.
So we have something cool and saves us money. It is a rarity when going cheap is also the hip thing to do. But in this case the environment wins as does our pocketbook. But wait we have been here before right? During the oil embargo in the seventies not long after the environmental movement lost its steam, gas went up, and cars were bought more for mpgs than horsepower and style. What happened to that movement? Well see above and gas prices leveled out, sure they continued up more, but at a less frantic pace. We could afford it; we were making all that money being yuppies.
So what is different down? There is now money to be made in the environmental movement. Serious money. Remember when conspiracy had it that Exxon bought up all the plans around that could make cars run on Chicken manure? It was ridiculous of course, but the fact of the matter is big money was never behind the environmental movement. Until now, now we have that Exxon, plus Chevrolet, plus Archer Daniels Midland in on it. So are numerous start ups, taking the place of dot comers are alternative fuel companies, sprouting up everywhere. And let us not forget the international scene, where the former third world economies in places like Asia are well versed in the problem of bringing alternative technologies to the masses.
There is also money to be made in cleaning up factories, which are paying huge levies for polluting; there is money in recycling, finally. Money is also to be made in turning sea water into fresh water, and reclaiming fresh water sources; if you can imagine a solution you can imagine a profit.
You see the solution is the same with every problem. The trick is this; you have to make people want to do something. Seriously want to, not guilt them. Guilt wears out, but doing something for you does not. If you can make people think there is something in it for them they will do it. That is the motivating force of everyone from Mother Theresa to Adolph Hitler. And now that the green movement has serious green money to be made in it, then it is here to stay.
Of course, a couple of more stories about the peril of polar bears always help. We like cute too.
Mac McMann writes from the male point of view at [http://www.manslant.com] .