Monday, July 9, 2007

Bathala

"Kaunlaran at kabutihan daw / ang kanilang sadya" - "They claim their intentions are for progress and the greater good"

(Bathala is by Joey Ayala, a Pinoy musician who is also a fairly well-known and outspoken environmental activist. The song is a prayer to the Creator from one who would be a guardian of the earth, a plea for Bathala to grant the strength to do what is right for the planet. )

Do you know what happened this past weekend? Live Earth, the Concerts for a Climate in Crisis. I only knew because my friend sent me a link to the local TV broadcast schedule. My response -- meh -- was apparently shared by the rest of the world.

Live Earth was intended to raise awareness about climate change, put pressure on politicians to "take action", and encourage people to be more environmentally responsible. Because nothing says "I am environmentally responsible!" like attending a concert at a huge venue with thousands of fellow garbage generators.

After the Police concert here last month, I remember looking down at the stadium floor and counting 8 beer cups, 7 water bottles, and 3 soda bottles littering our row. That's 1.5 pieces of garbage for each person, accumulated in just three hours, not counting little bits like gum wrappers and straws. Multiply that by 30,000 people and you've got a whole load of detritus. That's just one concert. Live Earth had 10 venues. Someone had to clean all that up, and it shonuf wasn't Sting a.k.a. Yogi Who Saves Rain Forests.

Bathala speaks of people who are plundering the earth, the seas, and the sky, all in the name of progress and expansion and "the greater good". Not that I'm clear-cutting acres of Philippine forests or destroying hundreds of miles of coral, but I don't always do what is "right" for the earth. I dare not say I'm environmentally responsible just yet, but I do consider myself environmentally conscious. I recycle, reuse, and reduce whenever I can.

I've been buying locally-grown produce from the farmers' market, too, but it's a lot harder to find what I want in the winter, and as we know all too well, winter here lasts about 88 years. Dusty and I also consume a lot more meat and dairy products than our favorite hippie vegetarian family, but we're omnivores living in Alberta, and it's hard to resist Alberta beef. Mmm.... steak.... yummalicious, ecologically evil steak with unrecycled horseradish and morally ambiguous garlicky mushrooms on the side.

My biggest sin? I've driven my car a lot more this year than I did last year, when I rode my bike or walked to work. I'm a little embarrassed to admit how sedentary I became during crunch time last winter. After sitting on my ass for 12 hours a day, six days a week, all I wanted to do was drive home and sit on my ass some more. Funny how that happens...

According to the Ecological Footprint Quiz, I would need 8.7 Earths to sustain my current lifestyle. That's just one geeky hippie with a rental house and an old Honda Civic. What about Madonna, one of the performers at Live Earth? She's got nine houses and a private jet! Her footprint must be the size of Uranus. Maybe even 19 Uranii.

Did the organizers really think that Live Earth would accomplish anything besides give about a billion people something fun to do over the weekend? The people who have a real say in global policy certainly weren't at outdoor stadiums or in front of their TVs, groovin' for the cause. If they had been:

Harper: "Al Gore is pissed off about this environment thing, eh? First he had that Oscar-winning documentary; now he's got that hoser Geldof helping out with concerts and that."

Brown: "Right. Well, Sir Bob does have all those connections in the music biz. Say, lads, all this rocking out has got me thinking. If Crowded House, UB40, and Joss Stone all say we need to do something about global warming, oughtn't we get on that?"

Bush: "Listen, Stevester, Gordo--Can I call you Gordo? How about Champ?--I need y'all to hush up now. The Pussycat Dolls are fixin' to take the stage and Don't Cha is my jam! Pass the nachos."

I think Chris Rock said it best: "I pray that this event ends global warming the same way that Live Aid ended world hunger."
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