Commentary  Piñata diplomacy : The pollution of hyperactive environmentalists

“‘Tis well averred, A scientific faith’s absurd.” – Robert Browning

We all know the type. The aspiring modern equivalent of the over-sexed, overblown, over-romanticized sixties radical. This is the person who makes you feel that – despite your very best green intentions – every breath you take and every move you make in some way causes irreparable harm to an erstwhile-undisturbed nature.

Ah, yes. He’s the arrogant snob who calls you out for not removing the plastic bottle cap from the plastic bottle you so dutifully deposited in one of McGill’s conveniently ubiquitous recycling bins. (Plastic bottles and plastic bottle caps have different plastic recycling numbers; when two types of numbers are mixed, says Signe Gilson, Waste Diversion Manager of a recycling centre in Seattle, Washington, “one contaminates the other, reducing the value of the material or requiring resources to separate them before processing.” But you already knew that.)

Listen, I love nature. It’s really awesome. I can think of nothing more pleasant than a spring Sunday in solitude, wrapped in a Mexican-braided hammock, rediscovering why your parents moved to the suburbs in the first place. (Besides the high-performing, all-too-conveniently milky white school district). Or a rewarding Grand Canyon sunrise. All the same, I find it hard to imagine that I’m the only reasonably liberal person sick of environmentalists constantly getting in my face about some seemingly innocuous aspect of my bourgeois lifestyle that they claim will inevitably lead to apocalypse.

Really though, alarmism is great. It’s absolutely the easiest and most effective way of raising an objection to a generally accepted opinion. (See Piñata diplomacy). But it’s also annoying, counterproductive, and I for one don’t like the condescending tone, Buster.

I do not contest the fact that climate change is real and manmade, but I think a little public relations lesson is just what the doctor ordered for my squirrel-feeding friends: being an uppity asshole is no way to convert the unbelievers. Just ask a Christian. If you know one.

Sorry, that was sharp, and I beg forgiveness. (“Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth.”)

Coincidentally, tree-humpers and Bible-thumpers have a lot in common. Scientists, like reverends, seem to think that the mere addition of a title before their name grants them unlimited license to declare as truth anything their little hearts desire. And we let them get away with this monopolistic baloney.

The overabundance of environmentalist advice really does a disservice to a worthy cause. It turns off moderates like myself, who are just trying to buy simple gallon of milk with a clear conscience. I like to consider myself a fairly harmless fellow, yet there is literally no aspect of my daily lifestyle that goes uncensured by the Gang of Green. (Ed’s note: Ricky wants everybody gets his witty reference to the skin disease “gangrene,” which is marked by a black and malodorous decay of the epidermis and other body tissues).

As a consumer, when decision time comes, I often find myself paralyzed, deliberating between two pieces of irreconcilable warnings about what is or isn’t “good for the environment.” I mean well, but sometimes I just want the devil and angel on my shoulders to shut the fuck up for a second.

Marx presciently pointed out that ineffectual were the socialists who believed they could turn back the clock on industrialization and return to an earlier, simpler time. He called them “both reactionary and Utopian.” Another scientific/pontific parallel: confirmation bias. Anyway.


Ricky’s column appears every Monday. Send your gangrene to