Thursday, 15 October 2009

Are you scared yet?

Today is Blog Action Day. And for that matter, awesome bloggers from around the world (yes, there was an awesomeness test before registering) are posting something about the environment. I know what you're thinking "oh, another environmental post", YES ANOTHER ONE, I'm the boss here and I write what I want on my blog!! Though for the first time somebody else is telling me what to write, and since it is a topic I value, I will do it.

If you've been reading my blog, you'll know that I am a very environmentally oriented person. Most of my posts have something to do with the environment and I present many of my very unrealistic solutions. In real life I am also a pain in the ass regarding the environment. I tell my friends to eat less meat, I ask them to recycle and I talk about how we should change our behaviours. At work I force people to recycle and turn off the TV (because no one watches CNBC anyway), I forbid them to print things out unless it's extremely necessary, I turn off the lights in the kitchen and in the WC and also their screens before I go home and finally I prohibit them to call all 3 elevators in the hall at the same time (bankers love to pretend they're in a hurry). I'm irritating, I know, but I don't know why people don't do these things themselves? It's as if I have to educate them everyday on how to be greener, and nobody learns! They think that these little efforts will not make any difference, so why bother? But this is not true - every single action, even insignificant, is important because you will have to multiply it by 6 billion!

So I wonder, what could make them act more responsibly? Because clearly no one's like me, they all need some sort of incentive. The two most common incentives known to humans are: sex and money. Men would do almost anything for sex and both genders are exceptionally attracted by money.

But I won't offer to sleep with my colleagues so that they start recycling, nor is any government going to provide free girls for men every time they do something eco-friendly (unless maybe the Dutch government…these guys are cool). And I am not willing to pay anyone to respect the environment and the governments don't have that kind money (they have it to bail out big banks and pay the bonuses, but to help the poor and the environment, they surprisingly run out of cash), so we can forget about it.

I see two, rather weak, solutions. The first one is to impose a dictatorship and force people to act more responsibly. This kind of was the case in the Dominican Republic in the 70's and 80's with
Trujillo and Balaguer. Both were terrible dictators but very strict about preserving the Dominican forests. They opened many national parks and condemned logging across the country along with many other great achievements for the island's natural habitat (not so good for the population though). We could do this today, but dictatorship isn't really accepted anymore and dictators always end up abusing their powers…not me though, I'm cool.

The second possible solution would be to impose an environmental tax on all revenues and not only on big companies, but also on individual persons. The money gathered from this tax would be used exclusively into eco-friendly projects and incentives for households to be greener. Maybe people could recuperate up to 30% of their tax if they have recycled enough or lowered their electricity bill by a certain percentage.

But all this will be very hard to implement because governments have other problems to deal with and there probably will be a lot of corruption from the politicians themselves. Moreover, there will also be lack of willingness from the citizens if the incentives do not cover the efforts they made to be greener.

But there's one last incentive that cannot fail. One incentive that could be The Solution if well played: Fear. The populace must be afraid of the current deteriorating environmental situation. This idea initially comes from the theory that fear could drive people to do things they otherwise wouldn't do. Look at religions; they've been scaring people for centuries now. Muslims, Christians and Jews still apply their rituals; don't eat pork, go to church, today is Sabbath. Whether it exists or not isn't the issue, but you will notice that people are willing to go to war and do other crazy things when their religion is threatened - but no one can be a 100% certain that religions actually exist. Whereas, the threat on the environment is true (you could actually die from climate change vs. you might go to hell if our religion exists) and nobody seems to be taking this very seriously.

Hence, what I understand from this is the following: people are stupid, regardless of their level of education. So my solution would be to tell environment experts to lie about the current environmental solution. Don't say "it is critical and we might have some issues in 50 years if we maintain our current lifestyles", no; they have to say "we are all about to die in the next 5 years if we don't act NOW", they can falsify all their numbers and inflate their studies to make them scarier. It's bad to lie, but at least it's a lie for the greater good. We still let religions lie to us, and I don't see many positive outcomes from that; I only see wars, conflicts, hatred and higher HIV rates in Africa.

So which lie is better? The one that promotes war or the one that could save us? Seriously, think about it.


  1. Very funny yet deep! Thanks Fadi! :-)I'll RT it on my Twitter

  2. Well said! And it's a great idea. I think it might actually work if you could get those environmental experts to move up the end game date.
    BTW..I too live with being a pain in the ass to my friends, family and co-workers only with me it's about animal cruelty. So I know of what you speak.

  3. LOVELY POST! Thank you for writing this :) Love the tone of it, and the whole ideas you suggested, and the tone of sarcasm!! keep it up :)

  4. Wonderfully delightful post!
    A good mix of seriousness and humor. I'm happy to see so many participants post on this critically important topic.

    For the rest of the world, I thank you for doing your part :-)

  5. I enjoyed reading your post. Fear does make people react. however, we live in Lebanon where war has been part of our lives for so long (since i was born), and frankly thinking of the environment is not very crucial when you might only have a day or a week to live (way of thinking during car bombs f.eks.). Also why am i supposed to save on electricity, when it is not even something i have on a daily basis? (might some people think)

    I believe that change needs time and patience and EDUCATION. I lived in Denmark where every human being is nearly brainwashed since their birth about the environment and the consequences of every single act. And they are achieving a lot today to protect & save their peace of nature because they all are thinking of it.
    So, Lebanon needs Educating kids to change the general mentality (of nonchalence) and to be able to make an effort before it is too late.

  6. the sex and money idea is funny.

    you're very right about the 50 years vs 5 years. when i tell people that it's only 40 years and things would be extremely bad they'd be like, yeah good whatever I'll be dead by then. this is why I precisely mentioned the "Don't have children" sentence in my post for the blog action day today.

    stupid is the right word

  7. Great post Fadi! Plus a very clever idea with the green font! even though you are becoming a pain in the ass, but our planet needs more pain the ass like you!

  8. Fady, this is a very creative and interesting way to say things here..

    I support your idea of how important it is to protect the environment, but what most people think is that they wont even be alive 50 years from now, so why care anyways?

    People in general need Awareness. As someone previously mentioned, yes change does need time and patience, but it also needs a specific attitude towards things, as well as awareness and education.

    Awareness should not start at an old age. I strongly agree that children should be "brain washed" or convinced in simple and basic ways to the importance of the environment, and the posible related risks.

    This can be highlighted in schools, activities and books. I am a current employee at "Turning Point" a book publishing company, we have a children's Arabic book called " Hayati Afdal bl Akhdar" which highly directs children towards being responsible citizens who care for the enviorment, who "reduce, reuse and recycle", and who should take care of the environment in all settings including houses, forests, schools, markets and even streets.
    In the 1st part, it emphasizes problems related to the environment, and then it offers possible solutions and ideal behavior for children to follow.

    Change starts by informing young ones, they are the future generation!

  9. wow very interesting and sad ..