Thursday, March 30, 2006

Smug Alert

In this week's new South Park titled "Smug Alert", Trey and Matt Parker take aim at environmental purists who "smugly" buy Hybrids and then look down on the rest of humanity. The entire town buys hybrids (cleverly named Hindsight and Pious), leading to "smug cloud".

Meanwhile, another "smug cloud" forms in San Fransisco, where Trey and Matt's unfortunate obsession with gaseous emmissions detracts from the show. But anyway, these two smug clouds combine with a 3rd cloud formed by George Clooney's Oscar speech, merging to form the "perfect storm" (an excellent play on the movie where Clooney's character idiotically rides out a storm to his death).

I am a strong believer in Hybrids, and in doing everything we can to minimize our ecological footprints (within reason). I don't consider myself smug, I do urge others to think about how they impact the world. However, I enjoy a good laugh at my expense, and I know a lot of truly smug hybrid owners (I like to argue with them, like when they say how great they are for buying a Prius to commute 50 miles to DC, I ask why they don't get a job near their house and ride a bike).

What makes South Park so entertaining is how they hit so close to home. The folks over at provided an excellent commentary in thier entry Smug Hybrid Drivers: NBC and CNN Imitate South Park.

However, I believe they mistake satisfaction for smugness. Their first example of a "smug comment" was this line from a woman on NBC's today show:

Betsy Rosenberg: "I decided this was something that I would do to protect my kid, my country, my planet and be patriotic. I think that's the patriotic thing to do is to use less gas and not more."

I don't see why saying it is patriotic to use less gas is "smug". If she said "I'm so much better than those evil SUV drivers", that would be smug. As it is, she's just overly excited about doing a small thing to make our world a cleaner place.

I do a lot to lessen my impact to the environment: Both my cars are hybrids, I use compact flourescents, I have a cordless electric lawnmower (I don't use any gas tools). But none of these are a sacrifice, I live the same normal overconsuming lifestyle as most americans.

If all of us just did what we can easily do without sacrifice we could make a small but significant dip in the ever-increasing energy use. This might help in the short run but in the end we need a breakthrough in technology to either drastically reduce energy utilization, or drastically increase our ability to make use of the nearly infinite supply of energy around us.

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