Slate’s Dan Engber has attempted to take down Wall-E in classic Green Room style with a piece slamming the film’s connection between obesity and environmental destruction.
Engber’s critique is flawed in so many ways that it’s hard to know where to begin … For instance, he doesn’t seem to believe that obesity really has much to do with being too sedentary or eating too much. To support this, he cites research saying that 80 percent of the variation in body weight can be explained by DNA. But what the research actually shows (and what his own colleague, William Saletan, has recently gotten right) is that 80 percent of the variation can be explained by DNA among individuals living in the same environment. If fatness is determined so strongly by genes, as Engber would have us believe, how in the world, then, is it possible to explain skyrocketing obesity rates in the past several decades?
In sum, Engber thinks the Nalgene-toting eco-liberals are ridiculous (and disingenuous) in their linking of the expanding waistlines and climate change. It’s a too-easy analogy, he says.
Granted, I (most likely, we) are among those people Engber loves to loathe and could scarcely be dissuaded from doing so, but just in case — in case there’s been a fundamental oversight, a gap in education — I feel like sending him a copy of Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food or Paul Robert’s The End of Food. It’s impossibly hard to argue, after reading either one, that agriculture, ecological degradation, and obesity aren’t closely intertwined.