Saturday, June 30, 2007

Mowing The Lawn in Flannel Shirts & Birkenstocks

Just about everyone I know claims to be an environmentalist yet most of them live their lives indoors. Some environmentalists mow their lawns on riding lawnmowers and then return inside. Many who live in the country feel they are living in a hostile environment of mosquitoes, biting flies, gnats, wild animals, and pesky critters like deer, groundhogs, rabbits, and raccoons. Rarely are people seen outdoors, particularly in winter. In winter, most of the people one sees in the woods are hunters, and many of them soon retreat to the indoor comforts of their television sets and hearths.

Environmentalism becomes more political and abstract than real or experienced. No one will disagree that the vast amount of resources devoted to publicizing the causes of environmentalism is a form a social engineering. Social engineering refers to the ability of a small group of people to get a much larger group of people behaving in a specified way. Social engineering is what Lenny Riefenstahl memorialized in her film paean to the Third Reich. There are certainly benefits to be obtained from social engineering. Publicity, regulation, and education have presumably encouraged millions of people to recycle their garbage, conserve water, and cut down on their energy consumption.

Whether or not socially engineered environmentalism works at more than a superficial level is debatable. How many people have truly made that vital connection to nature? How many know the names of common trees and wild plants? How many people have ever planted a tree? How many have grown their own fruit and vegetables? Some of our most noted “environmentalists” have probably not even mowed their own lawns. The disconnect between people and the natural world is evident when the weather is “too cold” or “too hot” or “too humid” or “too buggy”. Conspicuous by their absence on days such as these are the “environmentalist” who are no doubt at home dreaming up new projects in social engineering.

Many of the people who call themselves “environmentalists” direct others from air-conditioned offices on the top floors of city buildings? Other self-styled “environmentalists” are merely steppingstones for politicians. Am I wrong in believing that a deeper connection to nature is a more enduring benefit to society than any form of social engineering?

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