Sunday, July 30, 2006


I was interested in environmentalism as a kid. When I was a young teenager I watched 'Captain Planet and the Planeteers' almost religiously. It was on at 7:00 am every Saturday morning, and I'd be up to watch it. I learned some cool stuff from watching that show that I encountered later, one example being 'cruelty free' products--a way that makers of personal care products can display that their products were either not tested on animals or tested in a way that would not cause harm to the animals.

Also as a result of things I was taught about environmentalism in school, I suggested to my parents that maybe it would be a good idea to have a government program that built a recycling program into the city waste disposal. Citizens would need to sort their recyclables into different bins before setting them out. The issue my folks brought up was how to pay for it and manage it--and as I had really no idea that was the end of that discussion. (I had the suspicion that raising taxes would not be an option.) So that idea was shot right down.

For a while I lost my interest in saving the environment. For one thing, I quit watching Captain Planet after watching an episode of Northern Exposure where I found out that the character Geia, the 'Spirit of the Earth' in the show, was revered as the goddess of the Earth in some pagan religion (at least Geia was referred to as a goddess in that show). It seems silly to me now, but as a very serious Christian girl at the time, I was devastated that the show used a pagan goddess as a main character. In fact, I wondered if I could trust anything from the show.

Another thing that blunted my environmental interests was that I used to listen to Rush Limbaugh with my father. As a homeschooled girl, this was pretty much my political education in highschool. Anyway I remember that anytime Rush mentioned the word 'environmentalist' on his show, it was always proceeded by the word 'wacko'. As in, people who chain themselves to trees to keep them from being cut down, and who care more about saving the kangaroo rat than they care about the livelihoods of farmers. It has taken me a long time to get the phrase 'wacko environmentalist' out of my head.

I did not regain my interest in environmentalism until my personal values went though a complete overhaul. I would not claim that this is the same for everyone--as some Christians are avid environmentalists--but in my case what sparked my interest in environmentalism once again had a lot to do with my doubting of Christianity. More specifically, it was sparked when, partly as an act of rebellion I sneakingly brought home _Cosmos_ by Carl Sagan (sneakingly because at that time I was still afraid of my parent's disapproval. From a comment I heard Dad make after we watched the movie 'Contact' at my sis's house it was clear he did not think much of Sagan.) I would read it in my room with my door closed, and hide it whenever someone opened the door. The most memorable thing about this experience was that it was the first time I'd read a comment about evolution being a grand and wonderful thing. The idea that the theory of evolution was anything good was a complete novelty to me, and the idea fascinated me. I also found a small book called a _River out of Eden_ by Richard Dawkins. This started up a great fascination with evolution in me, and I wanted to know more.

My beginning understanding of evolution watered the seeds of environmentalism in me that had lain dormant for a long time.

This story is getting to be quite long, longer than I'd intended, so I will continue it in my next post.

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