Columns, Opinion

WEIL: The ‘Mother’ lode

Well, children of the Earth ‘-‘- hey, be glad I saved that schtick for the end ‘- it’s my grand finale. It’s my last chance to sustainably mold the collective mind of FreeP readers, and scatter you like dandelion seeds in the wind to do my green biddings in all parts of the world.

So let’s talk about the economy (surprise!). The media have presented a mixed bag of responses to the idea of the intersection of the economic crisis and environmental concerns. Yesterday’s FreeP article ‘BU weighs green costs against benefits’ presented many of the environmentally Negative Nancys in this debate. They repeated the age-old mantras of classical economics: The prices of alternatives are higher than traditional energy sources, and any large-scale sustainability initiative seems infeasible during the short-term spending to get out of this recession.

Among the mountain of causes for the recession are over-consumption and mismanagement of our consumption practices. Why did we as Americans turn to materialism in the first place? Because it showed how far ahead of the curve we were. Fancy textile factories fueled by young mill girls churned out identical linen shirts, until the rest of the world caught on and U.S. manufacturers realized it was cheaper to ship the company overseas where young Chinese laborers could do the job for one-fourth the price, and produce 100 times the volume. Add a marketing campaign that sparked massive demand and voila: America. Everyone got a little extra dough. So why complain?

Progressive thinkers worldwide have found this recession to be an opportunity for sustainable change, rather than a burden. We should take this absolute collapse as a chance to learn; learn that to rebuild a strong civilization on this planet, we need to readdress our priorities. It’s got to be people over things, the quality of our relationships over our portfolio. The bottom line of the recession is we need to cut back on things. We all share the same necessities: to eat, drink, be respected and be happy. Happiness is cultivated by the intangible: people, experiences, feelings. Things may be the middlemen to happiness, but just remove them and it’s not only more efficient but you’ll probably be even happier.

Enough of this motivational nonsense. That’s what ‘Change Your Brain, Change Your Life’ and Ramones’ column are for (joking, Life the Manual has soothed my soul every Monday). Positive Polly is not the only one who sees the opportunity that has arisen amidst the rubble of the free market collapse. I’ve heard President-elect Barack Obama agrees, as the economic revival he posed partly centers around 2.5 million green jobs. It may be a risk, but to get this country healthy again we need risks. These jobs will be fundamental to building the infrastructure needed to reduce our lust for oil. The academic world will need to get involved to institute green thinking in future generations.

SMG kids: no worries. Going green follows the precautionary principle and can be a venture capitalist market. The instability of the oil market indicates that creating businesses and models based around conserving resources is smart. On the other hand, there are lots of opportunities for risky green businesses. Carbon neutral tree houses, aka where I plan to live after graduating, could be very lucrative when gas prices inevitably go back up.’ Basically, the future is green. It has got to be.

To conclude, this past semester has been a regular ‘ball of confusion’ and an unparalleled time to write for any newspaper. The leader of the free world is no longer an old, privileged white guy, and may actually bring the change America needs. An economic rollercoaster of a crisis has brought corporate giants, governments and civilians alike to their knees. And at last (cue Etta James), sustainability and global climate change have become hot-button issues of the day.

It’s been a great ride. You thought you might hear the old tales of the plight of the polar bear or praises for that butt-kicking enviro-hottie Erin Brockovich, but no. I kept it fresh, just like Cherish, bringing you up-to-date green stories that you, who may have been a ‘sure, I like trees’ environmentalist, could get down with: manatees named Dennis, the myth of clean coal, drilling baby drilling and fantastically recycled holidays.

In any case, I sincerely aimed to provide a fresh voice heard in the university through this column. By no means have I ever intended to present myself as THE green perspective. Greenies have a whole rainbow of opinions and viewpoints on any given issue in the environmental, political and social debates. But I hope I opened up avenues of environmental discussion on all sorts of topics.

If at the very least I made you wake up that kid sitting next to you in lecture to ask about the CFL light bulb I have been holding above my head every Wednesday in my photo, then I succeeded.

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