Tech + Lifestyle

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An Open Letter to Mr. Al Gore

This has been previously published at You can find my original article here.

Dear Sir,

The green movement isn’t enough.

There, I’ve said it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for reducing our environmental impact. I love the idea of minimizing my carbon footprint. I’ve been recycling for as long as I can remember, and I drank the tree-hugger Kool-aid ages ago. It’s just that it won’t be enough.

Let me explain why I don’t have faith in our current efforts, Mr. Gore. This past weekend, I attended the Austin City Limits music festival, a three-day extravaganza showcasing dozens upon dozens of indie, folk, and rock bands. It was basically a massive hippie-fest, located in one of the greenest and most environmentally-minded cities in the nation. At this festival, where (at least theoretically) most of the attendees loved the environment and want to save the planet, I witnessed the unthinkable. Left and right, people were casually tossing their trash on the ground – beer cans, napkins, cigarette butts, you name it.

It would be an understatement to say that I was surprised, Al (can I call you that?). I was shocked; appalled, even. If a demographic that has previously demonstrated environmental awareness can stoop to such lows, what does that say about the rest of the population? I shudder to think.

Maybe it was a fluke. Maybe all the hippies and tree-huggers and environmentalists were tired of saving the planet and wanted to cut loose. Maybe they all stayed home this past weekend. Maybe all the people in attendance were a bunch of poseurs (excluding me, of course); I can’t say for sure.

Now Mr. Gore, what I do know – without even a hint of doubt – is that the efforts of you, the EPA, and everyone else have been well-intended but ultimately useless.

My only conclusion is that being “green”, at this juncture, is too difficult, too inaccessible. It is too expensive, too time-consuming, too emotionally exhausting. There are too many barriers to entry, and the common populace is giving up.

Right now, the average citizen can reduce their carbon footprint in two different ways, and neither option is particularly enviable. First, we can spend our discretionary income on carbon offsets, the cost of which sky-rockets pretty quickly. If not that, we can just say no to various modern conveniences and fool ourselves into feeling warm fuzzies over the miniscule difference we’ve made. Not all of us can throw handfuls of money at carbon-neutral houses, hybrid cars, and fancy educational documentaries, Mr. Gore. Meanwhile, the rest of the country will roar off into the sunset in those gas-guzzling monsters we call SUVs, leaving nothing but a faint ringing in our ears and the stench of exhaust in our noses. That sounds lovely, doesn’t it?

Don’t worry, though, I’ve got your back. I’ve thought long and hard, and I’ve come up with a solution for this problem, this lack of enthusiasm for going green. Are you ready? Yes? Then listen carefully, Mr. Gore.

Con us.

That’s right, con us. Fool the common folk. Lie to the masses. Don’t worry, most of us are gullible.

Trick us into cooperating. Make us think that green is gone. Drop the matter, and act like it never existed. In reality, though, you’ll be doing as much as ever, and probably more.

Keep making things environmentally friendly, Mr. Gore. Just don’t tell us you’re doing it.

Replace all products with green equivalents, but don’t let us in on the secret. Make sure everything looks exactly the same. That way, we can transition to being green without thinking about it.

No more worrying about questionable chemicals, because nothing will contain them. Turn bottled water into a fashion faux-pas, while you’re at it. Eighty-eight percent of those plastic bottles aren’t recycled, and filtered tap water is just as good.

No more agonizing over whether to get incandescent bulbs or compact fluorescent, because they’ll all just be compact fluorescents in disguise.

Turn all the eat-my-soccer-mom-dust SUVs and I’m-compensating-for-something trucks into hybrids. I know, I know, this one will take some doing. Try showing automakers An Inconvenient Truth or something. Use your imagination.

I guess what I’m saying, Mr. Gore, is you’ll have to single-handedly carry out the green revolution by yourself. The rest of us are tired of thinking about it, or bored, or both. Once again, it’s up to you to save the world, sort of like that one episode of South Park. You know the one.


Brian Murff

Former tree-hugger, prior environmentalist, and no-longer-concerned citizen


October 8, 2008 - Posted by | Eco Conscious, Humor | , , , , , , ,

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