UPDATE: [[I should have been more familiar with No Impact Man's blog--and the scope of his activism-- before being so dismissive of him. Thanks to the reader below for providing a larger and fairer context.]]
I’m not above stunts myself, especially if it scores me a long feature assignment. The last one I undertook in earnest involved following my garbage eight years ago.
But this No Impact Man schtick has rankled since I first read about it in the Times. No question, it’s a brilliant idea and maybe I’m just envious that I didn’t dream it up first. Even then, it wouldn’t have mattered since I have no self-discipline. Hell, I must have blown a brownstone down payment on a depot full of Thomas the Train merchandise, which now sits largely unused in a messy clutter in a precious corner of my postage-stamp sized apt.
Anyway, the lack of a larger, humanitarian awareness by No Toilet Paper Man is something that Elizabeth Kolbert articulates well in this essay review. For example:
Even during the year that Beavan spent drinking out of a Mason jar, more than two billion people were, quite inadvertently, living lives of lower impact than his. Most of them were struggling to get by in the slums of Delhi or Rio or scratching out a living in rural Africa or South America. A few were sleeping in cardboard boxes on the street not far from Beavan’s Fifth Avenue apartment.
What she’s getting at here is something that annoys me about many of the moralizing climate advocates who shriek about the looming end of civilization if we don’t pass the Waxman-Markey bill or Get back to the Garden. What about the world we live in today? And the masses of people presently consigned to lives of despair and deprivation? Where’s the righteous outrage? Where’s the collective “green” conscious and social movement that will, to cite one glaring planetary injustice, bring safe drinking water and sanitation to the 2.6 billion people that go without it?