11/6/09

Your Dog's Carbon Footprint and the End of the World


What, something else to worry about?  Apparently so. Check out Wayne's new blog, where he ponders the problem of your dog's (or cat's) carbon footprint.

Here's an uncomfortable truth.  Carbon emissions can be reduced through changes in lifestyle.  But they can also be reduced by reducing the number of individuals who have lifestyles.  We can have fewer children.  We can stop breeding livestock and pets.  But there's more:  we can let sick and starving people die.  We can kill the dogs and cats in animal shelters.  At some point though, a phrase from conservative religious ethics comes to mind and even starts to seem apt.  We should surely not become a "culture of death." 

In short, limiting animal breeding and human family size is all to the good, but let's not start dispensing with sick people and cats and dogs, as if they were of no value.

Speaking of the "culture of death," I'm starting to worry about the mini-culture that is my family.  For a while now we've been running a Friday night "end of the world" film series.  We've now contemplated the apocalyptic powers of fire (Knowing), ice (The Day After Tomorrow), germs (I am Legend), and aliens (War of the World).  I'm not sure what will be the bringer of death and destruction in tonight's movie (The Island), but I'm starting to think "enough."

The "end of the world" theme in recent movies and books (like Margaret Atwood's The Year of the Flood and Cormac McCarthy's The Road) seems to be a symptom of unease about the real apocalyptic worry of our time--global warming.  So argues William Deresiewicz in an insightful review of Atwood's novel.  
So here we are, right back where we were a few decades ago and hoped we'd never have to be again: staring down the barrel of global catastrophe. Anyone over 40 will remember the feeling. The numb resignation, the night panic, the sense of a world gone mad. The missiles, it seemed, were already overhead, hanging like a pregnant pause. And now the feeling is back, and anyone under 40 has to wonder what's in store for them before they die. Will they live to see the cities drown, the fields dry up, the food system collapse? Will they die a peaceful death, or will they be driven from their homes to wander the roads and eat grass? And if the worst does come, how will the survivors find the will to go on? 

We need to worry, think, and do something.  But enough about death!  I've proposed that our next film series should be about inspiring social reformers--people who try to do something about the world's problems.  I'm afraid that didn't go over well.

9 comments:

amos said...

Movies about social reformers can be preachy and tiresome. I'm not very up to date on movies, but Born on the 4th of July is about an anti-war activist (played suprisingly well by a younger Tom Cruise) and Malcolm X (played by Denzil Washington and directed by Spike Lee) aren't bad. In light of recent events in Texas, maybe Born on the 4th of July would be a good choice.

amos said...

Great, but too subtle for most children is Dead Man Walking about a nun who works against capital punishment. A masterpiece.

Jean Kazez said...

Yes, our film series' (does the apostrophe make it plural?) have to work for 12 year olds...which is tricky. Dead Mean Walking is a great movie, but very disturbing really. Maybe I could talk them into Ghandi?

amos said...

You know your kids better than I do. However, Ghandi is too edifying for my inner 12 year-old boy. Actually, a perceptive 12 year old might be able to understand Dead Man Walking, that is, the interaction between the nun and condemned man, which is the subtle part.

Jean Kazez said...

As I recall, the movie vividly depicts the rape and murder that puts the guy on death row. Definitely not suitable for 12 year olds. I also think it's too gruesome to contemplate someone lying on a gurney waiting to be put to death. But you're right about the subtlety and also about Gandhi. We need movies about "real people" doing good things, not old guys in loin cloths. (With apologies to old guys in loin cloths.)

amos said...

Real people, doing good things. How about Philadelphia? The lawyer is transformed into a social activist for a good cause, inspite of himself. Hollywood is very good at showing normal people transformed into better people, while it can't handle especially good people, saints or ethical visionaries. Hollywood does not understand goodness.

Wayne said...

Don't forget the end of the world via trees. M. Night Shamalan's The Happening.

OooOo I got an in blog mentioned plug. :)

Jean Kazez said...

OH NO! I like that director, even when he makes awful movies. We may have to extend this series one more week.

Stephanie said...

I can find the link, but I read that the math that this is based on is wrong. I'll see if I can dig it up.