Dear Big Daddy,
As an environmentalist, I’m sick of Schwarzenegger pretending he’s the second coming of Rachel Carson. Now people are saying he’s a better environmental advocate than Al Gore. Please.
–Living green, seeing red
Dear Lawn Gnome,
This coming August 4 will be my 20-year deathiversary. I’m expecting a party, folks, with cake and streamers and backroom trysts and everyone in fancy Italian shoes.
Lucky for me, the last two decades have been filled with stuff that makes being dead seem just fine: the Iraq war, The View, multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, Fox News, drivers on cell phones, The View, metrosexuality, the taboo on sleeping with lobbyists, genocides in Africa, and The View.
But if I had to pick one thing that makes being dead feel OK, it’s our poor, strung-out planet. Now rising oceans, mass starvation and no skiing are one thing. The real torture, of course, comes from talking about these things.
Now who would you rather talk about these things with? Al Gore, who will lighten the mood by describing his sister’s death from lung cancer? Or Arnold Schwarzenegger, who gives the impression that he may just go beat up those glaciers until they agree to stop melting (after grabbing his crutches and downing a couple Vicodin, of course).
Here’s what a lot of environmentalists don’t seem to get: The goal of a movement is to get people to join. Your political views are not some limited edition, 64-gig magenta iPod (add iPods to that list at the beginning) you can use to show you’re cooler than everyone else. Ultimately, if you’re really successful, you’ll end up with a bunch of middle-school dropouts and Kenny Chesney (ditto) fans on your side.
Don’t curse Arnold for besting Al–you oughta be happy they’re competing in the first place. Gore covers the weight-gaining wonkish faux-farmer set. Arnold plays to a slightly larger demographic: everyone else. Does Arnold know the first thing about the Berlin Mandate or radiative forcing? I wouldn’t bet a bottle of JWR on it. Five minutes of Googling ago, neither did I (we’ve got some fast download times here in, um, heaven).
But Arnold’s face will sell magazines, and in those magazines will be the idea that environmentalism isn’t just for people with pocket protectors made from hemp. Let’s use a metaphor–global laming. You may think Al Gore is groovy, but for many people he’s a major emitter of lame. Think of Arnold as
millions of new trees that are soaking up some of that lame and making your movement