Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Viva la revolucion
A squabble in Sunnyvale, CA, is pitting one enviro-neighbor against another. The issue: their redwoods are blocking his rooftop solar panels. Complete article in the LA times here.
That's unfortunate (for them). But I'm a bit elated in wondering: when did suburbians adopt the bastion of eco torch-bearer? When did the equivalent of "your hedge is blocking my sun" evolve into a battle on behalf of environmental integrity? I sure don't know, but it's pretty cool.
Equally thought-provoking and along the same lines: apparently it has become trendy for "eco-parties" to replace tupperware parties, wherein suburban moms dish on the latest biodegradable plastics and other savvy environmental innovations. One article recently went so far as to suggest enviro-friendly lifestyle changes are the newest status symbol. It's almost unbelievable that this is happening. For some, like me, who've always been labeled a little outside the norm (reading Stephen Schneider's books on climate change for fun as a teen, growing up conservative and devolving to liberal, etc.), it seemed that popular culture would never dare to care. Not like this. Not in my lifetime.
A cultural paradigm is forming right before us. So I got to thinking about what solar panel vs. redwood litigation and the like might portend for the future. The eco revolution is here, and it will begin to change the way we interact with not just the environment, but eachother. With so many eco-friendly lifestyle options to choose from, and some of them increasingly contradictory (cut the trees down for energy-harnessable sunlight, or let the trees grow as a carbon dioxide sink?), people are bound to conflict eventually. Here's what I predict: eco-typing.
Eco-types will begin to emerge based on their unique brand of enviro-friendly lifestyle choices. For example: rural "folk" might replace traditional agricultural practices with land-consuming environmental innovations, such as... wind energy (already happening, of course), or massive solar arrays. Both of these are currently in the realm of chic nouveau, but aren't above being poo-poo'd by the wildlife eco-type who are rallying on behalf of migratory birds against the giant windmills claiming their little lives. The wildlife eco-type, a sort of bourgeoise class, will buy into Natalie Portman's vegan-friendly shoes and shun the crudeness of the hick eco-types. (Or blue-collar eco-type, to remain consistent with the class system analogy.)
And for the redwood trees vs. solar folks from the article: climate eco-type (I'm getting tired, less imaginative) vs. economy eco-type. Money saving and environmentalism are not, after all, disparate. Even bottom-liners will find themselves in guilt-free type company.