This will surprise and shock you: It is sometimes hard to stay positive and be an environmentalist. Between Big Oil prematurely ejaculating over suburban lawns, the goddamn weather taking aim at my precious Russian River Pinots, and the very ocean dusting the Great Barrier Reef before I can afford to go there, can you blame me? Kermit — chemically sensitive amphibian, browbeaten husband, and dolorous crooner that he is — perhaps gives us the patron cliché we deserve.
All of which means I approach our theme this month — Happiness! — with some trepidation. It’s not that we Gristers aren’t adept at handling looming catastrophe; we just often swallow it with sarcasm and a black humor more cold and remote than the love of God. When it comes to dancing to the tune of the apocalypse, we’ve got moves like a teenage Blue Ivy Carter, and an f-bomb or 75 never hurts. When things get really bad, we can just report as-is and do this:
But this month is not about that! This month is about a deep and fulfilling happiness — a “human flourishing” that has wide implications for a more sustainable human future. (David Roberts calls it “eudaimonia” — marketing GOLD.) This is capital-H Happiness, world-changing stuff — not just acting like an asshole to feel better about the dump. Roberts will point us in that rightfully hallowed medium chill-y direction, and hopefully other experts like Gretchen Rubin of the Happiness Project will totally rearrange our shizz and way of thinking. (And they’ll do it without ayahuasca. Probably.)
But it occurs to me that I could also possibly try and reverse my internal bummer machine. As a quick exercise, I’ll take a look at yesterday’s lame-o news and try to simply look on the bright side. Here goes.
- Skiers and snowboarders to Obama: Save our snow! Let’s just go ahead and rip that Band-Aid off. I’m a lifelong skier, so not being able to catch a lift, tip my gnartender, and shred pow sandwiches all day bums me out. But: Fellow Bros and Brosephines are DOING something about it! First a letter, then Obama crushes a couple at Silverton … next thing you know, BAM! Carbon tax. Sweet.
- Lake Erie’s Great Garbage Patch is even denser than the one in the Atlantic. I started to get really depressed about this. Nobody wants to dip a hand into Erie’s famously tropical swimming beaches and emerge looking like this. But then the internet told me that Erie used to be worse, so this might be an improvement. Thanks, internet.
- Solar panels could destroy U.S. utilities, according to U.S. utilities. This one was tough for me, because what did utilities ever do to anybody else? They just sit there, power my fridge with coal, and gawp at me with those big ol’, TVA puppy eyes. Then solar panels (which are made of POISON, btw) come along to crush them with modern renewable energy opportunity. Of course, then I reread the post six times, like I always do with Dr. Grist’s posts, and actually understood it. Bright side achieved.
- Coal-mining jobs on the rise under Obama. Look, did Obama hire the coal miners? Did he personally go out there and ask like 200 dudes to start digging under his Hyde Park manse and pull out 115 million tons of carboniferous shale from beneath Sasha’s disused swingset? No? Then I’m happy, goddammit [slams door].
OK, so this is going to take some work. I’m just going to stare at this Lao Tzu of the pinniped realm and have some chai. With Old Crow in it. Bring the blood pressure down. Next week is another week — full of shitty news, but more informed by our deeper, doper investigation into Happiness.
Together we can do this. Pass the paint thinner.