During the 1960's, I was too young to be politically aware. Heck, I was too young to know what the word "politically" even meant ... or the word "aware" ... or the word "be" ... or pretty much any word beyond "Dick," "Jane," "Spot," and "run."
It wasn't until the 1970's that I began to take sides on certain issues. War, industrial pollution, nukes, continental drift, disco - I was against them all.
So, when I entered college in 1980 I figured I'd be meeting like-minded people who would question the issues of the day, attend protests and sit-ins, and perhaps even take over an administration building or two. Instead, my overgrown-hair-and-faded-jean- jacket persona was met with a student body of well-groomed, well-dressed, upper middle class young adults in preppy shirts who were more interested in becoming engineers and accountants than in holding "No Nukes" signs or protesting anything at all.
One day came my big chance. I awoke to find the US at war. Just like in the days of Vietnam we had something to protest! Granted, it was a war against Grenada, an island off the coast of South America well smaller than pieces of ice that today regularly break off from the Arctic ice shelf. But still, it was a war and it was something to protest!
So, a few of us rummaged through our dorm basement and rounded up some old "Stop the War" banners and anti-LBJ signs left over from the '60's. (Of course, I had to point out to the group that Reagan was now president, and not LBJ). We gathered up our signs, and some gas masks we found, and assembled outside the dining hall just around lunchtime. By mid-afternoon the war was over. (Whether it had something to do with our protest, or the fact that the small communist faction on Grenada was completely overwhelmed by the US Marines, is still a subject of debate).
With the war over as quickly as it started, and with us still wearing gas masks in fear of a potential showdown with the National Guard (which never materialized), we next turned the attention of our protest to the issue of cream of broccoli soup, which was served in the dining hall as the "soup of the day" every day. This was clearly cruel and unusual punishment, and had to be stopped! After two solid hours of protest college officials promised to add cream of mushroom soup to the menu. It was a small victory, but a victory just the same.
Fast forward to the early 21st century. The big issue these days -- besides the Iraq War, and the soon-to-be Iran War, and terrorism, and rising oil prices, and folks trapped by sub-prime interest rates, and the threat of inflation, and tainted dog food -- is global warming. It's one of those "funny" issues. I believe we would all care deeply if our world were to suddenly become uninhabitable, yet we detect no observable threat to our immediate surroundings so our general reaction is "ho hum." As long as the sun is shining and the US Mail is being delivered on a daily basis, what do we care? All that melting ice sheet stuff might as well be taking place on another planet.
Yet, there are people who are so deeply concerned that they've become part of a movement ... per the website stopglobalwarming.org. Apparently some 700,000 people have registered for a Stop Global Warming March. A march? Against global warming? Who? When? Where? And will refreshments be served?
But wait, this isn't like the marches we've seen in the past where hundreds of thousands of hippies descend on Washington, DC and swim naked in the reflecting pool. No, this march is a Stop Global Warming Virtual March. It's the new wave of 21st century protest. Nowadays, you can protest all you want ... in your pajamas and slippers ... from the comfort of your laptop.
With a virtual march all you need do is register online. No tear gas to worry about. No fire hoses. No arrests. No appearing in court the next day to answer to charges of civil disobedience. None of that. You simply register online. Other big names are already on the "march" as we speak - Al Gore (of course), Sheryl Crow (makes sense), Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (to trump Gore), Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (to convince voters he's pro-environment), Sen. John McCain (hmmm, bit of a surprise, but not really), skateboarder Tony Hawk (?), Huey Lewis (apparently without the News), Barenaked Ladies (the rock group, that is), and Blue Man Group (although they're trying to figure out how to work a piece of broken off ice shelf into their upcoming shows).
But what can we common folk do to reverse global warming? Of course, whatever we do as individuals to help the situation is dwarfed by what industry does on a daily basis to destroy the environment. Heck, the emissions released from the liftoff of the space shuttle alone sets us back years. Regardless, here are some "feel good" things you can do to make it seem like you're doing something to stop global warming:
Give off less carbon dioxide - Carbon dioxide, that's the problem. Animals breathe oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. So, it's been suggested that we all breathe less. If we could cut our daily breathing by 50%, that would mean we'd exhale half as much. If everybody did that, then global warming would be reversed in no time ... that is, until the next shuttle launch.
Don't drive your car to work - Your car burns fossil fuels and emits carbon monoxide. That isn't good. So it's suggested that you quit your job so you won't need to drive to work. In fact, there's no need to leave your house at all. You can survive off grass and twigs and squirrel meat - it tastes just like piping plover, which tastes just like chicken, or so I'm told.
Take fewer showers - Every time you take a shower you throw the whole ecosystem of the world out of kilter. (Way to go, Mr. Clean!!) It's suggested that you take fewer showers. Or to really do Mother Nature a great service, take no showers at all. Heck, the Pilgrims never showered, so why should you?
So, to sum up -- don't shower, quit your job, eat squirrels, and take 50% fewer breaths. That's the ticket to a healthier, happier planet Earth!
See, there are ways to protest in the 21st century. And you don't even need to leave your house to do it. Which is a good thing, because ... I hate to be the one to tell you this ... since you stopped showering, boy do you smell!!