Save the Earth! (Drop dead)


I have a plan to get us out of this environmental mess we're in. But first I'll need some volunteers. I'm looking for anyone who thinks there are too many of us, that our consumptive tendencies are squeezing the life out of this planet and that our very presence is a cancer.

Environmentalists and zero population growth zealots should apply - you know, the usual guilt-ridden recyclers that complain about too many brown Third World babies, but then have two white kids of their own, meanwhile driving around in brand-new SUVs clutching their designer mineral-water bottles.

Because I am fair and inclusive, I'm also looking for anyone who belongs to a militia, who hates taxes, who doesn't vote and who thinks that fluoridated drinking water is a left-wing plot.

Here's my campaign: Die for Your Planet. Your guilt will vanish. After all, you will have done your part by ending your participation in the ruin of this planet. And if you want to leave a further legacy to the environment, you can put me in your will or, second best, The Nature Conservancy.

Think of the advantages.

First, less of you means a higher quality of life for me. You get a well-deserved rest; I get better parking.

You won't be contributing to global warming or air pollution, unless you decide on cremation.

If you owe child support, you will no longer be a deadbeat dad, simply a dead dad.

You save salmon by not consuming any more electricity from smolt-killing dams.

You preserve forests by canceling your subscriptions to paper-rich tomes like Audubon, National Geographic and Outside.

You won't have to sit in an auditorium and listen with sinking spirits to the latest bad news delivered by some grim expert who makes three times as much money as you and who has a wine cellar the size of a school.

You don't have to watch another depressing documentary on the Amazon rain forest in which the sound of chainsaws accompanies the closing credits.

No more agonizing decisions on whether to leave the water running when you brush your teeth.

Die for Your Planet is the classic grassroots organization. No annual dues to pay, no slick five-piece mailings that arrive every month, no bumper stickers to deface your new Ford Explorer and no lobbyists to support.

How you choose to check out is your own damn business. I'm exempt, of course, because of my ongoing interest in myself, but if given a choice, my preferred method would be jumping into the turbines of Glen Canyon Dam. That way I could finally get my float trip down the Colorado.

Look, we all know the environmental reports are bad and they're not about to get any better. Just listening to the news is a slow death in itself:

* 400,000 acres of farmland are lost to urban sprawl every year.

* The ratio of logging roads to the total length of the U.S. interstate system is 8-to-1.

* Only one species out of 23 has recovered since the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

* By next year, the average size of an American house will be 2,500 square feet, 600 square feet larger than in 1977 and 1,700 square feet larger than my humble abode.

* If current worldwide fertility levels stay the same, there will be 296 billion friendly and sharing humans on earth by the year 2150.

Wait, there's more. The average American (not me, of course) watches seven and a half hours of television a day and buys only four books a year. Since 1995, there has been a 300 percent increase in the sales of Three Stooges merchandise.

I'll admit, there are disadvantages to dying for your planet. The first is you will miss reading my future columns. Second, when the environmental cow pies hit the fan, i.e., when all our water systems are contaminated by pig farm waste, when federal national forests are turned over to state control, when we run out of oil and trees and when we are all employed by Starbucks and Blimpie, you won't have the satisfaction of saying "I told you so!"

But who wants to be alive when that happens, anyway?

Stephen Lyons lives in Washington state - for now. He is a frequent contributor to Writers on the Range.

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