April 22, 2022

IT’S EARTH DAY. AGAIN. CONTAIN YOUR EXCITEMENT:

Even the left finds the day more than a little glum just now though that’s because the world hasn’t ended yet. Remember—end-of-the-world doomsday scenarios make environmentalists happy, so when the end of the world fails to arrive on schedule, they get the sads.

Like The New Republic, which asks this week:

Remember When Earth Day Used to Be Cool?

A person could be forgiven for being cynical about Earth Day in 2022. Even ExxonMobil celebrates the holiday. . . ExxonMobil doing Earth Day is a lot like arms and aerospace giant Lockheed Martin co-opting International Women’s Day—a holiday which began as a protest of capitalism and war. . .

Many contemporary defenders of the planet despise Earth Day. In fact, at this point the hatred is an annual ritual, observed with headlines like “I’m an Environmental Scientist and I Hate Earth Day,” “I’m an Environmental Journalist and I Hate Earth Day,” and “I’m an Environmentalist and I Hate Earth Day.”

The author’s answer? More “mass protest.” Cue Greta Thunberg.

ExxonMobil “celebrating” “Earth Day” is a classic example of big business learning in the 1990s “that it’s pretty easy being green,” as Katherine Mangu-Ward of Reason wrote in 2006:

Ask Bob Langert about the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and he starts to chuckle. “When we meet the regulators, it’s kind of nice,” says the senior director for social responsibility at the McDonald’s Corporation. “We just got an award from the EPA. When we see the regulators, we always hope it’s because they’re giving us an award.”

* * * * * * * *

The idea of the rich corporate villain gleefully dirtying Mother Earth is powerful and appealing. Children of the 1980s encountered this supervillain in comics, movies, public awareness videos, and science textbooks. Times were good for mandatory recycling, for mandatory emissions reductions, for anything mandatory aimed at restraining corporate polluters.

But in the late ’90s, something peculiar started happening. The men in suits were still middle-aged, round, and white. They were still just as concerned with profit and golf. Very few of them sported tie-dyed attire, aside from the occasional whimsical Jerry Garcia tie. But the men in suits started caring. Or at least acting like they cared. Which, if you ask a spotted owl, is the same thing.

So environmental activists across the nation bought their own ties and started dealing with corporations as almost-equal partners in planet saving. Businesses in turn learned that it’s pretty easy being green.

All the way up to Obama’s crony corporatism and beyond.

Related: Earth Day predictions of 1970. The reason you shouldn’t believe Earth Day predictions of [2022].

52 years on, to paraphrase the late Kathy Shaidle on Trump as Hitler, I’m already on (at least) my fourth apocalypse:

Flashbacks:

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