Facebook is the new cigarette, social media is the new cigarette, the oil industry is the new cigarette, the plastic industry is the new cigarette.
Remember cigarettes, delicious and recommended in the 60’s by 4 out of 5 doctors, a natural tobacco product grown from the earth able to remedy anxiety, digestion problems and a great way to meet new people? Oh, that’s right they kill you too, half a million per year in the US, 8 million worldwide. RIP Wilma Williams (mom), I wish we would have known then what we know now.
The earth needs a good lawyer. Did you obsessively follow the oil spill in Southern California? A good lawyer could and should take those responsible and make them not only pay for all the cleanup but sue to have the 23 offshore platforms decommissioned and while we’re at it, how about looking at the 70,000 other active oil wells in California? Lead and the world will follow.
Because, isn’t California ready to set the tone for the impending environmental revolution? I have a pie chart that I’ve been putting on my whiteboard for 20 years in Physical Science, it’s a simple depiction of where we get our energy from and in 2001 the renewable slice was 12%, the slice today is 34% so we’re going in the right direction but the challenge will be to hit the magic 100% which will take some doing, 66 years by my very imprecise pie chart calculations above.
How do we do it? Look no further than the Zuck and the FacebookInstsaWhatsapp shenanigans of the past couple weeks. You can’t get serious about huge problems when the entitled generation is obsessively pouring over Tik Tok videos.
I mean, have you read the last 200 blogs? No? well I’ll summarize them for you-OBSESSIVE PHONE DISORDER IS KILLING US. Wow, 6 words, note to self, simple is always better.
The good news is that developments where people write about how Instagram and Facebook posts hurt our mental health are way overdue but they are finally happening. Really, seeing only the beautiful pictures of beautiful people makes us envious and inferior and depressed? Shocker. Obsessively clicking through platforms hoping to achieve nirvana is bad? Creating a career path for kids (and adults) where one can take pictures of oneself all day and get paid crazy money might not be the best example of hard work for the next generation?
Where is the long-term plan and isn’t that what the adults in charge should be creating?
The answer is not more regulation but self-regulation. Yes, I feel better when the counter at the bottom of these blogs hits 500 instead of 5 but I don’t take it personally, I might reflect on the reason for about 10 seconds but then I move on because have you seen my To-Do list?
Let’s start with a little back planning, where do we want to be in 2077 (2011 + 66 years)? And how can we get there? Too daunting? How about what can we do to improve the sustainability pie chart 1% each year? And I’m not talking about wearing only Banana Republic t-shirts which are made from recycled plastic (although every bit counts), I’m talking acknowledging and dismantling the fossil fuel industry just like we did cigarettes.
Let’s start by telling big oil to kick rocks. That we’re tired of giant globs of tar on the end of our surfboards and dead birds and fish washing up on our shores. Naive? Sure, but doesn’t mother earth deserve the same rights as all of us? And isn’t it time to start working on the future instead of just talking about the future.
Need a plan? Start at the top, real policies. Governmental decisions which prioritize people over profits and move humans forward vs backward, representatives who are not just interested in keeping their jobs but creating programs like turning the Sonoma Developmental Center into a residential vocational training ground for teens and 20 somethings who are desperately in need of a little vision and training.
And isn’t it way past time to play hardball with Joe Manchin and anybody else in the pocket of big fossil fuel. Does anybody out there still think that clean coal is the answer? That fossil fuels are really not that bad? That plastic pollution will just go away? If you believe this you are just not smart or you are choosing to blindly follow people who want the world to end.
Which brings me back to cigarettes. Would Wilma still be around if she knew at age 20 that two packs of Parliments per day would eventually kill her? If she had said, “this is not good for me and I want to be around when my great grandkids are born”, would it have changed things?
We are now seeing what social media has done after 10 years of not thinking about the consequences. We’ve known for a long time what fossil fuels are doing to our planet after 100 years but we need more than talking at summits and blaming each other.
One of my earliest childhood memories is throwing a carton of cigarettes in our burning fireplace when I was about 5. Did it make any difference? Probably not, but I knew early on that cigarettes were bad and I had to do something.
I wish now that I had done more.