Crawl Across the Ocean

Monday, May 01, 2006

You Probably Think This Post is About You, Don't You?

Roy MacGregor has a pretty funny column in the Globe and Mail today.

He starts by noting that there has been a lot of talk about the environment in the news and in magazines recently, and then speculates about why this may be,

"It may be facile and not exactly accurate, but it is a simple exercise1 to tie the political issues of the day to the dreaded baby boomer generation.

Families and suburbs, then protest and change; then came the 1970s and jobs, naturally, became the top issue of the day. The environment did rise in the later 1970s and into the 1980s, largely because of acid rain, but soon it receded again as this bull of a generation turned its attention to financial matters, from stocks to deficits. The boomers slid into their 50s and, no surprise, health care began its steady climb to the top of the issues chart, where it remains today.

That the environment might be coming back as a core issue could have many explanations. Some would be linked to health care. It may, however, have more to do with guilt, a generation finally starting to look back at what it has wrought.


If $70-a-barrel oil can make us think, finally, just imagine how much thinking we will be doing if it hits $100 a barrel.

It might finally be that the boomers are thinking less about "me, me, me" than usual."

Yes, the reason this latest trend is all about the boomers, our boomer columnist tells us, is because the boomers are not thinking only about themselves anymore. Hilarious.

Then MacGregor swiftly changes gears from subtle irony to black comedy:
"It is one thing for people to read that polar bears are not going to survive this weather shift, but quite another for ice fishermen on Lake Erie to find there was no ice to head out on this past winter."

First of all, doesn't this contradict the prior assertion that it's not just the usual me-me-me ism of the boomers at work?

But more importantly, who needs those overexposed bears anyway? - I won't miss them a bit. Their extinction won't affect any of my hobbies, so screw 'em.

Presumably Macgregor is right that some boomers are concerned about the environment for altruistic reasons. Presumably, he is also right that many people are motivated more by self-interest instead. But as the pending extinction of polar bears, lack of ice on Lake Erie and expensive gas are all mutely trying to get across to us, the reason the environment is an issue now is because we are facing big environmental problems.

MacGregor figures that this emerging concern for the environment may eventually make an impact:
"If the environment emerges as a top issue in the United States, it will re-emerge soon in Canada, as well.

And what this means for the Liberal leadership race is intriguing, for at the moment you can say only that the environment, as a core political issue, is rather asleep in this country.

It could, however, soon become the sleeper issue that, finally, forces the candidates to offer a vision that goes far, far beyond the December convention."

But then, (contrary to popular opinion), vision is rarely in short supply at leadership conventions. But where it is really needed is not so much in empty words, but in actual government legislation which makes a difference. So while MacGregor may be looking half a year in advance to the election of an opposition leader, I think for the moment I'll keep my focus on the current government and tomorrow's budget.

1 "It may be facile ... but it is a simple exercise"

Remedial French lessons for anyone who says that something is facile, but simple. 'She maintained her usual joie-de-vivre, but was feeling down and depressed. The morning dawned muggy, but cool, as the sun rose in the East - and West...'


  • The baby boomers' children are young adults now, and are as concerned about the environment as their parents were 30 years ago.

    By Blogger Mark Francis, at 10:03 PM  

  • Do you think that concern for the environment is something that is stronger when you are young?

    That hasn't been my experience, but I could be unusual.

    By Blogger Declan, at 10:13 PM  

  • It's the 'conventional wisdom'. Yeah, that's weak.

    But the reasoning is that they aren't wrapped up in the necessities of life (kids' baseball practice, shopping for a family, clawing your way through the day...) and have that youthful naivete going.

    Just take a look at the average age of protestors. They tend to be young.

    I think that Boom, Bust and Echo made some points about this. Ditto with seniors getting involved.

    By Blogger Mark Francis, at 10:01 PM  

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