What’s Wrong Here?

Perhaps you have seen the commercial. The idea is to sell Corona Beer and we close in on a magnificent, large home on a lake with four friends in their early 30s (all trim and fit) sitting out-of-doors at a table laughing and admiring themselves when suddenly a gust of wind blows out their candle. One of the more enterprising young men takes out his iPhone, turns on the flashlight and sets it under a bottle of “Carona Premier” which is thereby lit up and provides them with the light they need to continue to admire themselves and applaud genius.

What’s wrong with this picture?

Look again, if you will: the house behind them, huge and modern, has EVERY SINGLE LIGHT TURNED ON! So what? you might ask. And that’s the problem. Very few — if any other than nattering nabobs of negativism like yours truly — will see anything whatever wrong with this commercial. But all I can see is the wanton waste reflected in the fact that all the lights in that huge house are turned on. It says to me: this is a culture that is not only self-absorbed, and thirsty, but also terribly wasteful and unconcerned. We are a use and toss-away culture that thinks only about today and what might give us pleasure.

Don’t get me wrong. I like beer. I particularly like Corona beer. It’s yummy. I also suspect the director was going for mood and visual effect. All of this is irrelevant. The point is that those who decided to present us with this commercial message gave away the game: we simply don’t give a damn. It’s that simple.

Now I would venture to bet that anyone to whom I preach (and I realize that it is not a choir but perhaps only small chorus) would agree with the underlying message. I am aware of this. But we need to save the planet and it will take each of us doing whatever we can to help — though we would prefer to diss the Congress and point the finger at them rather than at ourselves. This is another feature of our culture: we don’t really like to accept criticism or responsibility. It’s easier and more comforting to place the blame elsewhere. But the planet needs our undivided attention: it is in serious jeopardy. And showing four mindless models sitting in front of a house with eighty-five rooms all lit up sends the wrong message — especially since the folks who sit in front of that house are proving to all of us that it’s all about having a beer and having fun. No worries. We’re having a great time — and look how clever Fred is with his iPad lighting up the table! Brilliant!

I fully realize that I see things like this and they bother me. I write about those things that bother me and that are worth thinking about. But this makes many people uncomfortable. I titled my blog the “Daily Gadfly” and initially determined to write a post each day about the goings-on around me. It became too stressful, for many reasons. So I slowed down and post only a couple of times a week — and I try to stay away from political machinations as they are way too depressing. But the job of the gadfly is to disturb and irritate in order to engender thought. It was a label Socrates wore proudly. But it puts people off and they turn away to look for happier news. No kitties or flowers here, folks. Sorry.

Indeed I do tend to see the glass half empty while others are able to see it half full. This makes me a pessimist I suppose, though I regard myself as a realist. In any event, the future of the planet and indeed the human race is a matter of genuine concern — for optimists and pessimists alike. But however we see the glass, we need to be awake and aware and to think about the things that each of us can do in our small way to address a very large problem.

And that starts with turning out the damn lights!


Bi-monthly Report

As is usually the case with this blog, I am going to summarize the Sierra Club’s bi-monthly report as included in the Sierra Magazine. It contains some bad news along with some very good news as far as human life on our planet is concerned. First the bad news:


The Baird’s sparrow is being pushed out of North Dakota and Montana and into Canada by climate change.

Rising temperatures and hybridization with non-native rainbow trout threaten Montana’s famed cutthroat trout with extinction.

May was the hottest month on record.

The West Antarctic ice sheet is in irreversible collapse according to a joint University of California, Irvine/NASA study. The ice sheet contains enough water top raise sea levels worldwide by four feet.

That last one is most disturbing, but it is countered by some good news.

One-fifth of the world electric energy production now comes from renewables.

The EPA proposes a rule to cut carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector, including existing coal-fired power plants, by 30 percent by 2030. (You may recall that the EPA is one of the main targets of the Koch brothers!) Meanwhile, Finland (whose school system is the best in the world) aims to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by the middle of the century.

Tesla motors (makers of the world’s most efficient electric cars) has surpassed Toyota as the largest auto industry employer in California. Further, their CEO, Elon Musk, has opened his company’s patents to other automakers for free in order to help widespread adoption of electric cars.

America now has more solar workers than coal miners — (for those who think the pursuit of renewable energy will cost the country jobs).

And finally, Pope Francis says that destroying the earth is a sin. (Not to mention suicidal).