I realize that all life on earth is in rapid decline. Everything from the amoeba that swim at the bottom of the Antarctic ice caps to the hawks which soar above the redwood trees in back of my house- are facing the threat of inevitable extinction. Extinction was a term that I never considered until I read Thomas Bernhard’s classic autobiography entitled “Extinction.” There was a line in the book that has stayed with me until this day, “I am my own extinction, I do it to myself and everybody else as well,” he writes. I can’t help but think of this in relation to the epidemic of global warming that I am now faced with. I know that each and every one of my actions directly affects not only myself but also every other living organism on planet earth. I am connected to all things in ways that I can not fathom with my limited and usually fatigued mental faculties. For every action of mine I know there are equal and/or opposite reactions in space and time. Yet, I can’t seem to change my ways.
Recycling, composting, driving less, eating less red meat and using less electricity are all ways that each and every individual can directly combat and possibly reverse global warming. This is a known fact that many people, including my wife- are turning into a way of life. I envy these people who seek to be healers of the planet upon which we live and somehow are determined to save human beings from becoming extinct. I, on the other hand, seem to be incapable of joining them in their noble quest to turn back the hands of time. In my mind recycling is a futile act, composting is a pain in the ass, driving less is an inconvenience, eating less red meat is just not possible and using less electricity is out of the question.
Electricity– I am afraid of the dark and when I am at home (asleep or awake) I need all of the lights on.
Red Meat– Red meat is the most nutritious food on earth. My health suffers if I do not consume at least two servings of red meat a day- I grow tired, weak, and forlorn.
Driving– One of the few ways that I am able to relax and find some semblance of serenity in my life is to drive my car around the ghetto for hours listening to Coltrane, Monk and Mingus on the radio.
Composting– When I have left over food on my plate I do not want to go outside into the cold and throw it away into a composting bucket that is filled with flies which get into my eyes, mouth and nose- I’d rather just wash my scraps down the drain or put them in the garbage can.
Recycling– As long as there are millions of polluting cars on the road, bombs with depleted uranium being dropped, factories burning toxic fuels, airplanes burning oil in the skies and ships burning oil into the sea- I for the life of me can not perceive how recycling my paper or glass is going to make a slight dent upon saving the environment. As far as I am concerned recycling is a conspiracy- it is a futile act that allows individuals to feel empowered and feel as if they are doing something good to save the environment when in reality “the sky is falling.”
My relationship with my wife has suffered because I am not willing to make certain changes in my lifestyle. She is an adamant composter, recycler, bike rider (instead of driving), vegetarian and lover of the dark. On her car she has a large sticker of “Mother Earth” and everything she buys has to not only be sustainably made and organic- but also involved in free trade process so that no workers are being exploited as a result of her transaction. At times her “conscious” habits drive me to the brink of insanity. I find myself filled with a particular kind of rage that I can only compare to the rage a person must feel when they are being made a fool of. My perpetual frustration has made me less willing to participate in composting my food or recycling my waste and whenever my wife finds banana peels, orange peels, glass or plastic bottles in the garbage can- her fury can be felt from a mile away. Recently our environmental differences have become so extreme that she has said a few times that if I do not start composting my food waste and recycling my glass and plastic bottles that I will have to move out. In the meantime, she told me, that she had no choice but to report me to the local Global Warming Man.
The Global Warming Man is a city official that comes around to individual households and businesses and shows people ways that they can create a more sustainable environment. They teach people how to compost, recycle, use less electricity and water and engage in various other eco-friendly practices. There is also a short lecture on the topic of global warming and the ways in which every species is interconnected. My wife told me that reporting me to the Global Warming Man was her final attempt at salvaging our marriage. If I did not meet with him for the two hours that he is going to spend in our house this Friday, that I would have to look for another place to live. She can no longer handle my blatant disregard towards not only the environment but also for myself and my own survival on planet earth. I was infuriated by what I thought was an extreme measure to get me to conform to her ways. Why did she have to report her own husband to a city official? For me it was the ultimate betrayal until I slowly (after many conversations) began to realize that I was going to loose not only my wife and home if I did not meet with The Global Warming Man- but possibly also the earth upon which I live.