One of the questions thoughtful and mission-based publishers ask is why books on environmentalism don’t sell. Since it’s Earth Day (by the way, Happy Earth Day!), I thought I’d ponder it here. My own amateur sense, as a personal eco-warrior, is that younger people are very focused on fixing environmental issues. In fact, it is often THE issue for them. And honestly, reading books about our many, many failures to sustain our environment is downright depressing. I’ve read several, and seldom do I put the book down without a profound sense of grief and hopelessness. Many of us do what we can while watching others thoughtlessly carrying on as if our modern lifestyle is normal. I don’t advocate getting out of the matrix and hunting mammoths with spears, but I do wonder how to get through to those who don’t think about it.
I’ve been on the “Green Committee” at work for many years. I sense the hopelessness there as well. Our business has gone about as green as it can but unless you can convince other, less concerned industries to reduce their footprints too, we’re all still walking through the new carboniferous age. Little things matter. Some of us may not be able to afford an electric car, but hybrids are somewhat reasonably priced (in as far as car prices are ever reasonable). LED lightbulbs have dropped from over $10 a pop to two for a buck. And why are we still using natural gas when electricity can be produced by wind? My young next-door neighbor has been encouraging us to get solar panels. We would, but we have to get the garage roof fixed first. And so it goes.
Caring for the environment is a big job. These days, however, we also have to keep an eye on politicians who get elected to serve only themselves. And Supreme Court justices who do things that would get many of us fired for bribery. Here’s the thing: justice doesn’t work unless it applies to everyone. We share this planet. It’s difficult to build forward momentum to save our home when corruption is so deeply entrenched among those who control budgets and who have so many unthinking followers. Even so, we as individuals can do what we’re able. We may not be able to afford to repair that garage roof yet to get solar panels installed—it really is in a prime location with uninterrupted southern exposure—but we can compost. And be conscious of our energy use. And even, if we’re brave enough, read some books on how to help make things better. The earth, it seems, is something worth saving.