There’s a reason (she begins, clambering up on her soapbox) why environmentalism never took off in a big way here in Colorado or in many of its neighboring states. Sure, the people who enthusiastically applaud new mentions of the Kyoto Protocols tend not to be the ones wearing orange blaze and loading the hunting rifle up for October, but I think there are deeper issues here beyond what the party on your voter registration suggests you really ought to believe.
See, I consider myself to be a liberal. I think corporations should be taxed, and taxed heavily. I’m all for raising taxes on the superrich. And I think oil companies should pay a 90% tax unless they can demonstrate that they are making adequate, independently verified strides toward alternate energy. I’m also an enthusiastic supporter of the pro-choice movement, LGBT equality, and tolerance for all who aren’t actively harming others through their actions. I love meat, but I’ll happily smoke a bowl with the vegetarians and vegans around town (note to all feds who might trip over this: words do not constitute actions, intentions, nor admission of prior activity. Freedom of speech!).
But damn, I hate environmentalists.
I put them in the same category that I put extremists of any stripe. Anybody who tells me what I need to do or how to behave in order to live up to their standards of a pure life is automatically on my shit list. And considering there have been studies contradicting some of the central tenets of the live-local, love-the-environment movement, I have no reason to trade my gas guzzlers (especially not when I’ve invested so much in them) for an $80/month bus pass when maybe the time and aggravation aren’t worth the possibly minimal reduction in environmental impact.
And I think this is the problem with the whole movement. It’s not that I love driving so much I’ll take it over any situation. If there were better public-transit options to get from my central Denver apartment to, say, my grandmother’s suburban home or the ski resorts I frequent, I’d take full advantage. Every popped blood vessel I get screaming at someone who cuts me off on the highway probably takes a year off my lifespan. By my reckoning, this puts me on borrowed time as of today. Other drivers are dangerous, and Colorado’s weather can be unpredictable, as many of the other entries on this blog can attest. If I had the option to let a trained professional consistently get me from Point A to Point B for a reasonable price, I’d take advantage.
But sadly for us outdoor lovers, no such system exists between any Front Range city and the mountains. I believe this is a pattern throughout the United States as well as that bastion of reduced carbon emissions known as Europe. So if the environmental movement is to be believed, I’m supposed to give up my access to the outdoors–stop skiing and hiking–because it’s somehow the right thing to do. Never mind how difficult promoting environmental awareness and preservation is if you can’t introduce urban dwellers to the very environment they’re supposed to be interested in protecting.
So to all the dreamy-eyed Prius owners up in the People’s Republic of Boulder (who are still greener than Hummer drivers, but still not proving themselves to be the saviors of the bunny rabbits), I offer this challenge: Find a way to make this movement practical. Get buses out of the cities and into the small towns that rely on car traffic. Start reviving passenger trains where tracks already exist, and expand where new tracks can be put. Less talking, more walking.
And until that day, stop telling me how unhealthy my cheeseburger is while gagging on your cigarette.