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Anthony Jenkins / The Globe and Mail (Anthony Jenkins)
Anthony Jenkins / The Globe and Mail (Anthony Jenkins)

Drawn Off Topic

Singer/songwriter Fred Eaglesmith on the environment Add to ...

Fred Eaglesmith will be performing at The Slice in Lethbridge, Alta., April 21, in the Yukon Arts Centre, Whitehorse, April 28, and at The Belle Petroleum Centre, Peace River, B.C., May 12. His latest CD is 6 Volts.

Are you an environmentalist?

I’m an environmentalist, but I’m not part of the trend. I’m not part of the “Green Revolution.” I don’t like the green revolution. Fashion is always a bad thing. It is very fashionable to be green right now. That means it will go away.

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Replaced by what?

It doesn’t matter. Remember the hemp revolution of the ’90s? Gone too. Green will go.

Many might say if you are not “green,” if you’re not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. Are you?

No. The solution is not to be part of fashion. This comes from your heart. It doesn’t come from your head. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against green. I’m against the trend. I’m against “cool.” If something is “cool,” that means it has a lifespan. All these little greenies walking around talkin’ their talk, they will go away. And that’s the trouble. It shouldn’t ever go away.

Corporations love it. Now they are marketing green. It’s just horrible. Green will go the way of the wide-legged pant.

But demonstrably, statistically, the ozone layer is being depleted, sea levels and global temperatures are rising. How can concern over the environment be just a fad?

No, that’s not a trend – although I don’t know, I’m not a scientist. I’m skeptical when someone says there is global warming. Didn’t we start with an ice age?

Is this a blip in the screen? I don’t know. We humans have this thing where we automatically believe what people are telling us. How do we really know?

I can be skeptical in cases where people are making money and have reason to lie or hide the truth on environmental issues. But many concerned people have no monetary interest in environmental issues. Why would they lie?

They tell me scientists are making a lot of money on this. I don’t know. This is what I do know. Do you think that the scar of the tar sands are any worse than the scar of Mexico City?

Good point. I’ve been to Mexico City and it would be hard to argue that, environmentally, it was any better.

All this crap, the Liberal windmills in Ontario. The most beautiful spots decorated with these horrible-looking machines. Why didn’t they just spend all this money getting people to turn their lights off? We could have put all this money in conservation.

I was off the grid in the ’90s. I had solar and wind running my farm. There was such little power coming in off the solar and the windmill, we figured out how to save energy because we didn’t have it, that we could go back on the grid, our hydro bill was so low. There was no sense in having a windmill!

So the solution is conservation, not green or alternative technologies?

Yes. I believe we could do this on conservation. No problem. You are in an office now, aren’t you? Look around you.

It is air conditioned. It’s brightly lit …

Never mind that. You know those little wall warts? The little transformers that you pug in to charge your cell phone and whatnot. They take energy even when they are not being used. No one ever tells us that. The government never tells us that.

And why don’t our hydro meters look like a gas pumps – with dollars and cents on them? I’ll tell you why. People would say, “Holy Smokes! We’re at 40 bucks! Shut it off!” And they would. We could do this but it’s not cool and it’s not sexy. It’s so much more sexy for the government to put up those windmills and those solar panels than to just say, “Shut your lights off.”

Why hasn’t that been pushed? It seems a realistic – and much cheaper – alternative.

I’m with ya! Because it’s about cool. It looks cool!

As a mindful human being, if I had my way, there would be none of this. But that is not going to happen. A guy in the tar sands says, “I need a job so I am going to go rape the land.” And a guy in Mississauga says, “I need a house.” They are really doing the same thing, aren’t they?

People gotta live, people gotta work. So, instead of everybody being protesters, we need to find solutions and solution is not a cool movement.

People being what they are, greedily wanting more toys, more stuff for a better life, how are you going to get them to conserve?

Put a meter on their house that tells them how much money they are spending. Every time their fridge goes on, how much it costs. That’s a smart meter! How come our hydro meter has to be so hard to read? Could it be they don’t want you to know?

The Liberal government of Ontario is filling a leaking pail, efficiently. A big leak on the bottom and they say let’s put up windmills and solar panels. Ya gotta plug the leak. The leak is conservation.

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