an essay appearing in a Canadian magazine during the summer of 2001

I’ve had it up to here with politicos, editorialists, naturalists, protesting leftists, rightists and plain generic loudmouths bellowing about the damage we do to our earth, water and air. Do I look like some harebrained game freak? Don’t they think by now I’ve got the message.

It seems every time I search for news, the latest wailing of some Chicken Little group is taking up all the space. I’d like to give them space - out there alongside Pluto. By now, I think we’re aware bikes are less damaging than SUVs. It’s obvious that if you cut rainforest above a river the soil will wash down hill. I no longer need to hear about those things. Smoking is bad. Drinking, worse, except it does a little good for the heart. Drugs devastate so we should either make them legal; hang the dealers; rehabilitate everybody; or set up more studies.

We are told the world needs fewer people. Then on the next page, we find some nincompoop praising the latest plan to extend life. “We can all live to be two hundred” raves the headline. Seems to me if the body crush were that serious the press would be chiding us to live shorter, rather than longer, lives. I’ve given up fish and whale products; saved birds until I’m knee deep in feathers; and now that I’ve chucked the rifle, bears are stopping by for beans and rice. But that’s not enough.

I now drive weekly less than 10 km. Never take trips on energy-consuming aeroplanes, trains, buses or boats. Cut my hair with scissors. Flush every third time. Seldom shave or shower. Keep the thermostat at zero. Renew the septic system. Batten all my cracks and generally exist close to a state of donating - rather than consuming - energy. And don’t even ask how often I change my underwear. But is that sufficient. Apparently not. They just keep at it.

The pain inflicted by the tree-hugging onslaught seems even more unbearable than the original issue. For they are lambasting our ecosphere with an around-the-clock verbal First World War cannon barrage, shattering my nerves with post-traumatic stress disorder.

My newspaper is like a harping spouse. I pay for the privilege of being scolded to clean up my act. During sleepless nights, I’m haunted by their clarion call “Let’s make the whole world a natural heritage park.” Pipe down, guys, I’ve planted so much foliage that my place - known hereabouts as “that damn jungle” -grew twice as high as it is long. Thus we live under a permanent risk of being smothered and crushed by a giant fir. So call off the heralding doomsayers, I say. We know about it and are doing it, so please stop.

I recycle, walk softly upon the earth, breathe as little as possible and eschew harsh detergents. I refuse all packaged and imported slave-labour food. I make only green investments. I read things on-line in order to preserve forests, and my only newspaper not available on-line, I turn into mulch for a hedgerow. I return flyers. I don’t own a dishwasher. I mend and fix everything. And I even spit to enrich the soil. I’ll bet the farm I pollute less than 99 per cent of those thumping the door and invading my mailbox with their “Protect Momma Earth” flyers.

For some time, I’ve absolutely refused to buy anything new for fear it will harm the environment. But what must transpire so the media relents and gets on to something of which we’re unaware, like what the government is really up to these days? Just once I’d love to open the op-ed page to a void of environmental rage. Or turn on the television without being harangued.

Hey guys, quit picking on me. Once more with feeling: it’s not my fault!

If you have any questions or comments, please Mr. R. A. Fowler, Secretary.
or write
O.P.E.R.A. c/o R.A. Fowler, Secretary P.O. Box 483, Durham, Ontario. N0G 1R0