Thursday, July 13, 2006

Populist Environmentalism

Environmentalism is one area where walking the walk overshadows talking the talk by at least an order of magnitude. From DADvocate.


patsbrother said...

As neither I nor dadvocate have seen An Inconvenient Truth, I would assume that neither of us have the standing to accuse Mr. Gore of shameless self-promotion or shrill, hypocritical grandstanding. All reports I have received from those who have seen the movie point in the opposite direction.

Plus, the further point that Mr. Gore has been giving the power point presentation that underlies the documentary for a number of years would seem to argue heavily that Mr. Gore's true purpose is not to showcase himself, but to advocate a cause in which he strongly believes. It seems anomolous that an individual would introduce legislation, write books, and present information over the course of two decades on a topic that was highly disfavored when he took it up on the off-hand chance he could someday capitalize and profit off of his association with it. That defies logic. This, about a man who has been mercilously characterized throughout the years as a woodenly logical man.

I do not question dadvocate's sizing up of his friends and neighbors. I have known numerous people such as those he describes throughout the years, and not just on this "cause" but on others. However, I find the vicarious imputation of poor character dadvocates ascribes to Mr. Gore based on dadvocate's acquiantances to be both unfair and likely misplaced. I find it a show of poor judgment to impugn others one does not know for actions of which one remains intentionally ignorant. It would seem we owe Mr. Gore the benefit of the doubt regarding the documentary unless and until we ourselves choose to watch it, or at least pay it closer mind.

petallic said...

For once, I concur with everything PB just said.

Furthermore, I find dadvocate's definition of "entertain"ment to be a bit narrow. I find politics entertaining. I find documentaries entertaining. I found Gore's movie incredibly entertaining, though admittedly on a much more cerebral level than Pirates of the Caribbean, but still entertaining. Besides, when have movies ever just been for entertainment? As far as I can see, movies are as much social conditioning as they are entertainment.

[Disclaimer] PB thinks what I just typed about social conditioning is hooey.[/Disclaimer]

Buzzzbee said...

Well, I didn't read dadvocate's post. I read the first sentence which states: "I haven't seen 'An Inconvenient Truth' nor do I plan on seeing it". By the time I finished the paragraph it occured to me that this would be prime opportunity to be a smart-ass. I can't remember ever passing up an opportunity before so I figured "why start now?".

So, I chose not to read it and rather just come to conclusions based on the "reviews" above and the first paragraph "trailor" I read.

Without any further ado, my baseless accusations:

Dadvocate is clearly just trying to bash Mr. Gore based on his pre-existing hatred for the former vice president. This is easy to see with his sharp quip about the internet(which I have heard before) and "love story"(which I hadn't heard before, but I'm sure is just another spiteful, esoteric joke at Mr. Gore's expense that conservatives sit around their boardrooms and exclusive country clubs and laugh about).

I have also concluded that dadvocate's ideas of proper environmentalism are conjured up solely for the purpose of allowing rightys to be both proenvironment and antienvironment at the same time. You know, the way oil companies air those warm, cuddly commercials with the concerned actors asking questions about their company policy that are intended to make us believe that they really do care about the environment, when of course they really don't. His ideas of environmentalism likely involve eating dolphin-safe tuna off of a styrofoam plate, while sitting in a H2 hummer.

I could be waaaaayyy off base here, but that's much better than actually reading the post and getting first-hand knowledge of what I'm talking about. For all I know dadvocate may actually be liberal. He could actually be a member of the green party, but I'm certainly not going to find out. He could be a she. I'm only assuming the male gender because of the word "dad". However, I took a solemn vow not to see that blog and I'll stand by it. If that means I'm looking like a total fool right now, then so be it.

I have to admit though, it was tough doing all that non-reading. My curiosity is still nagging at me, but I must be firm. I'm trying to decide if I should read the post after I finish this or if I should see it through to the end and remain firm in my ignorance. Either way, I'm the only one that will know.

Patrick Armstrong said...

I'm glad to know that smart-assery is far more important that the actual issue in this case.

I'm also glad to know that defending Mr. Gore's documentary is higher on the priority list than finding out how to speak to folks on the other side about environmentalism.

But at least what you said was entertaining, I have to give it that. It is all the funnier because I actually read the whole of DADvocate's article.

dadvocate said...

buzzbee - I don't like Gore that much although I voted for him (and his father) for Senator back when I still lived in the great state of Tennessee. (I'm not the only Tennessean Gore alienated as he couldn't carry his home state in 2000.) But I'm not trying to bash Gore, I'm bashing some of his supporters who are in the groups whose "ideas of environmentalism likely involve eating dolphin-safe tuna off of a styrofoam plate, while sitting in a H2 hummer."

This group includes all the people I know personally who have seen the movie. If you had read the post you would have discovered my car gets better than 30 mpg and that I have replace 75% or more of the incandescent bulbs in my house with flourescent bulbs. In the comments, I also mention that I usually use paper napkins but use small towels as I have read this is better environmentally and cheaper. Since I bought my second car in 1970, all my cars have been 4 cylinders with that got 30 mpg or better except for a mini-van I had for 3 years. Again, this is more than any of the "Truth" movies goers I know.

I make a conscious effort to be environmentally friendly and am willing to experience inconvience to do so. This is more than the actions of the Truthers I know. But, as I said in my post, I do this for two reasnons, environmentalism and to save money. Yep, being environmentally friendly is often cheaper in the long run.

patsbrother said...

What chu talkin bout, Patrick?

You linked us to a blog that irrationally slighted a man based on other people's reactions to him. And you wanted us to discuss how to reach out to the other side? It's safe to say that was a nonobvious purpose.

What if all the people I know who (a) voted in the last election for a major party candidate and (b) hate black people, what if all of them to a man voted for Bush? Should I now irrationally ascribe knee-biting racism to a man whose closest friend and political ally is a black female? Give me a break.

Let's see, that's three votes for irrational shenanigans, one vote for discussion of a nonobvious topic. Perhaps you may want to premise your reasons for linking next time.

Patrick Armstrong said...

Get. Over. It.

You are worried far more about a cult of (little) personality than you are about actual environmentalism. Ignore the parts about Al Gore & his movie (that a lot of conservatives say because they, in fact, don't like Al Gore) and actually listen to what DADvocate says about environmentalism.

If you did that, you'd see that your main disagreement with him is semantic & related to a man and his movie that neither of you seem to know personally. You ignore the fact that you and he agree on the actual premise of environmentalism:

"I do not question dadvocate's sizing up of his friends and neighbors. I have known numerous people such as those he describes throughout the years, and not just on this "cause" but on others."

So, what about his take on environmentalism? Do you do small, environmentally conscious things too? You absolutely do because I've seen you do them.

That's what I'm pointing out. On the actual issue, you and DADvocate are far closer to consensus. But instead of focusing on that, you worry about his assumptions and opinons about a man neither of you know.

Your focus on where you disagree, and you make the Al Gore the issue. Al Gore is not an issue. The issue of environmentalism has nothing at all to do with Al Gore, and everything to do with how average people act.

So, instead of focusing on populist environmentalism - that Americans are far more willing to support and act on across all political beleifs - that is a unifying, consensus building topic where most people will agree with you, you focus on a divisive issue over what one dude's opinion about another dude's movie is.

Man, if Democrats all thought, talked and acted that way, we might loose more elections than we win.

dadvocate said...

I apologize to Al Gore. Personally, I actually believe is a fine man. But, he goes over the top sometimes and I can't, for the life of me, understand the worship he gets. My real problem is that he movie drew all the "environmentalsits" driving SUVs and engaging in conspicuous consumption out of the woodwork. If they really believe his message they need to adjust their lives and consumption patterns accordingly. I'm not sold on the cause of global warming scare but it just makes good environmental sense to conserve, etc.

Plus, I came from a family and work in an environment where we all poke good natured fun at each other. I can take it and I'm sure Al can. One thing he does seem to have is a decent sense of humor.

petallic said...

Patrick, you're calling us out for making Gore the issue, but Dadvocate made Gore the issue by having the first paragraph of his post be about Gore and his film, and you seconded it by implying in your opening post that Gore talks the talk without walking the walk.

If you'd seen the movie, or done your homework, you'd know that Gore has spent his entire career pushing environmental issues. He travels the world pleading his case to audiences of a myriad of languages. While I respect your decisions to use fluorescent bulbs and drive economy cars, Gore is trying to reach a wider audience with this film. That is the reason for this film: to reach a larger audience.

I am not a Gore-worshipper, but I believe in giving credit where it is due. He has done a wonderful thing here, bringing these issues into the open. I'm not sure why you feel the need to tear him down.

But to bash a film you haven't seen? Talk about talking the talk without walking the walk.

petallic said...

And buzzzbee, lovely post.

Patrick Armstrong said...

This just blows me away.

I read that whole article by DADvocate. I ignored everything he said about Al Gore because what he thinks about Al Gore is not important to me. That's his opinion of a man that I can't change. That's his opinion of a movie he hasn't watched & I haven't watched, so guess what:

I. Couldn't. Care. Less.

What I am very interested in is his conservative ideas on environmentalism, which - it turns out - aren't very different from my own liberal ideas of environmentalism.

But that's how I read things: I gloss over the little, ridiculous, insignificant disagreements ("I have a higher opinion of Al Gore than DADvocate does") and get to the meat of the dern issue.


Because I'd rather help build a broad and positive consensus about ENVIRONMENTALISM than worry about what people think about AL freakin' GORE.

petallic said...

I realize this is your blog and all, Pat, but are you really dictating what we think is discussion-worthy?

I think we can all agree that the environment is important. I would wager that most of us on this blog recycle, drive economy cars, and generally hug every tree we can wrap our arms around. I can wager this because I can't imagine you being friends with consumption-frenzied idiots. That said, I am interested in how intelligent people can unabashedly criticize something of which they have no knowledge.

I'm happy to discuss the environment, but to discuss it without discussing the most important environmentally-conscious film to come out...ever...seems silly. I found this film as life-changing as Aldo Leopold's Sand County Almanac. For me, it will hereafter be an integral part of any modern discussion of the environment.

Patrick Armstrong said...

"but are you really dictating what we think is discussion-worthy?"

Obviously not.

patsbrother said...

Okay, to satisfy Pat, here goes the sum total of comments to be made on the enviornmental discussion raised by the original blog posting.

"Yup. Hypocrits suck."

"Yup. If you like living in a nice home, you keep it up; you don't beat it with a sledgehammer and [defecate] all over it."

I suppose someone could reply with a nice "ditto; well said" but that might be superfluous.

In other words, I really don't know what you expected us to talk about.

Or did you want us to rattle off those actions we do or refrain from doing, which most people consider "environmentally friendly"?

You know, for our green cred.

patsbrother said...

Fun story:

Once, at a friend's party, I approached her with my empty beer can and asked where she kept her recycling.

"Kevin...I'm a Republican...I don't *care* about the environment."

Short. Direct. Sweet.

Patrick Armstrong said...

Well, seeing as there is consensus about populist environmentalism, I was hoping to hear some ideas to make it easier on folks to act in such ways.

I remember Athens being a very friendly town for recycling, and had neighborhoods where you could walk to the store for groceries or downtown for business or pleasure.

Island City is very unfriendly to behaving environmentally. Every building is built so that an air conditioner is absolutely necessary, and you can get places on a bike very easily, but you can't recycle anywhere close by. Then there's Brunswick, where all the stores are miles from where people live seperated by miles of auto repair shops.

Buzzzbee said...

Did it get really serious in here or is it me?

Pat, I believe you are wrong in your assumption that there was only one issue in that post. "Populist Environmentalism" may have been what grabbed your interest, but blindly bashing something without firsthand knowledge of what's being bashed grabbed mine. I did actually read the entire post after writing my comment and I agree with everthing except the second, third and fourth paragraphs, which I'll get to later. Of course, writing a bunch of "you're absolutely right" comments doesn't make for very interesting debate but that's my opinion.

I was attempting to draw attention to what I saw as a flaw in logic through humorous and innoffensive analogy.

I did find the 2nd-4th paragraphs troubling. I've heard this logic before. "The temperature change is so small, it's not a big deal", and "much larger climate changes have taken place in the past". The thing is though, the climate shifts are usually followed by MASS EXTINCTION. The largest mass extinction in the history of the planet is believed to have been caused by a climate change of only 10 degrees. At this time 95% of life on earth was killed off(I watch a lot of Discovery Channel).

Even when we talk of one degree, that's a huge amount of energy. Do think our overactive hurricane seasons are just coincidence? When you take trillions of gallons of water and heat them up by one degree, it's going to have a large impact on hurricanes which feed on warm water.

People like to forget just how dependant we are on nature. One of the things that jumped out at me from that show, what the statement that a 10 degree change would render Great Britain a desert. We can only Imagine what North America would look like. Over the course of thousands of years, plantlife would hopefully adapt and return, but we have 6 billion people on this planet. Do we have the technology to feed all of them until plantlife returned? Could we even feed our own 300million? Dadvocate's own update showed that the climate change in the opposite direction made it difficult for the vikings to keep their food alive. You can take things further than food supply. Our oxygen also comes from plantlife. What if 95% of plants and algae died? Do we have a means of artificially creating oxygen? Remember Elementary School? The "web of life"? "Everythings connected"?

If one is to argue against global warming, the "it's only a couple of degrees" defense is not going to work. Of course, that's not actually on the topic of populist environmentalism either.

By the way, I wasn't trying to defend Gore. That was incidental. When I defended Gore, I was jumping to a conclusion that I really had no information to support(which was the point).

Patrick Armstrong said...

BZB: "But at least what you said was entertaining, I have to give it that." I laughed out loud.

I didn't assume there was only one issue in the post, I simply gagued each issue and focused on the one that is far more important to me.

I'm just blindsided by which issue that ended up dominating, but I'm fascinated by how it played out.. The reason I am concerned with that has to do with message.

Conservatives could say any number of reasonable things, but if they precede that with something they know presses Liberal buttons, they end up owning the issue.

Imagine, if you would, a conservative saying they support something like universal health care.

Now imagine, in the first five paragraphs they talk about President Clinton committing perjury and adultery and how they're glad we don't have a terrorist loving President any more.

Based on this thread, where do you think most liberals would end up, if that were the discussion?

petallic said...

So you want us to be squirrels, jumping on anything shiny?

Go rent Dogville and watch all the way to the end.

I do not excuse shenanigans just because I feel the other person can't help it or doesn't know any better. Excusing said behavior means I don't respect them. When I respect a person, I believe they can either do better or be held accountable for their actions/words. I respect Dadvocate; therefore, I will not ignore one thing to focus on another, especially when the one good thing is universally agreed upon.

I get what you're saying, which seems to boil down to, "Keep your eye on the ball." But in this case, the ball was foul before it ever entered the batter's box.