Green Fashion

A post like this would have been better served on 7/7/07, but these thoughts didn’t come to me until after I’d absorbed all the media that came from Al Gore’s “Live Earth” concerts.

2007 feels suspiciously like 1990. That year was the 20th Anniversary of Earth Day. I was in my first semester at state college and the environment was a huge issue for me. Like today, we had a Bush in office who ignored our feelings about the fragile state of our planet. We felt motivated by this and the 20th Anniversary was a perfect spark plug. That Earth Day, and the summer that followed, felt like a sea change. It seemed that we were finally getting wise to the bigger picture of our responsibility as a species.

This summer, back now in the US, I see the word “Green” everywhere. It’s something I didn’t see even four months ago when I left for Korea, at least not like this. Global warming, An Inconvenient Truth and the “Live Earth” concerts are the spark plugs this time. I applaud Al Gore’s efforts, and I know that this is a critical time for change.

But it’s also history repeating itself. I’d like to be hopeful, but I know what happened 17 years ago. Time passed and people moved on to other things. There was some moderate change in the Clinton administration, but systemically we didn’t evolve much, and things reverted back once a new Bush came to power. Why? Because in the end, Earth Day 1990 was a fashion statement. Some of us believed, but most of us were along for the fun of it.

Cynicism expands with age, but I do believe that we’re misguided in our approaches to spurring significant, lasting change. We have to stop turning it into a party. I’m disturbed by rock concerts that preach to the converted and alienate the ignorant. In 1990 we had Sting and Peter Gabriel. In 2007 we have Sheryl Crow. Conservatives and energy executives don’t give a rat’s ass about Sheryl Crow.

I’d like to see an movement where everyone’s invited to the party, not just the popular kids.


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