Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Earth Day Fifty Years Later: Don’t Forget To Shut Off the Lights

Happy Anniversary EARTH DAY! Hard to believe it’s been 50 years since the first in 1970.

Earth Day in New York City 1970 - The Bowery Boys: New York City ...

Ever since that watershed event people have been looking for ways to shut down civilization and take us back to pre-industrial times when all the women were strong, all the men were good-looking, and all the children were above average. As long as it doesn’t impact the way they live too much that is.

I remember the first Earth Day: I was in college, it was a beautiful spring day and celebrating Earth seemed like a great excuse to skip classes. I don’t remember exactly how my friends and I celebrated the auspicious beginnings of a soon to be worldwide movement but I’m quite certain it involved adult beverages.

Also nearly 50 years ago, in 1971, the Boeing company, teetering on bankruptcy due to a severe slowdown in new airline orders, laid off 60,000 of its 100,000 employees. Nearly everyone in Seattle either worked for or knew somebody who worked for Boeing. The layoffs had a huge ripple effect in the local economy, leading someone to put up this billboard:

New sign of the times? Imagining a modern version of Seattle's ...

It became a tagline for every economic downturn anywhere over the next half century. During the dark days of the great auto downturn of the 1980s it cropped up everywhere in Michigan as people were fleeing the state in droves in pursuit of job opportunities.

It was a jokey bit of black humor about a decidedly non-humorless situation, but it was a joke. But it isn’t anymore. Where political pressure, and decades of public indoctrination and shaming didn’t work. We found something else to finally turn the lights off in Seattle and Detroit, along with every other major city around the world – the Wuhan Virus.

The First Earth Day - HISTORYClarification: you can’t get off alive

Earth Day proponents are ecstatic over the resulting “clean air” and lack of pollution from a shutdown of the global economy. While the hoax of a dying planet didn’t move people to change the basic nature of modern life, a much greater fear - of dying - has moved people  in less than 4 weeks time to voluntarily close schools, empty office buildings, malls, museums and airports of nearly all human activity and ‘shelter in place.’ In other words, to “shut the lights off.”

So what have we learned in 50 years? That fear works but that it has to be a great fear and it has to be of an immediate threat.

So there’s your future formula for manipulative hoaxes. Be on the lookout.