Global Warming: How Having Teenagers Makes Me An Expert On Developing Countries
July 10, 2009
It’s no coincidence that I waited till the Huffington Post moved all the environmental stuff out of the Living section before I began posting for it. Call me anything, but never call me “earnest,” please. My ecological philosophy goes something like this: Don’t be a pig and clean up your mess to your best ability. Enough said. Reading about carbon footprints just makes me feel guilty and insignificant, particularly now that the G8 meeting is coming to an end in Italy. I may be squinting at under-lit labels in my pantry because I’m using CFL’s and I may be driving a hybrid, but what difference does that make when India and China haven’t even gone through puberty, let alone been invited to the dance. The developed countries have all agreed to a “goal” to limit global warming to no more than 2 degrees, but the hormonal and exceedingly populated developing countries have been trying to act invisible during this part of the summit.
Who can blame them? They haven’t had their Bruce Springsteen moments yet.
They feel born to run and are just itching for affordable cars so that Wendy can wrap her legs ’round these velvet rims. We developed (and I use this term loosely) folks orgiastically indulged in the freedom and sex appeal of cars and now that we’re middle-aged and no longer capable of rising to those emotions, we can’t understand why everyone doesn’t embrace moderation. As the mother of four kids, ages Learner’s Permit to Legal Alcohol Limit, I get the rising titans’ reluctance to restrict their appetites for the stuff all teenagers want. I don’t believe that there is a single hybrid in the senior parking lot of my kids’ high school that isn’t either a pretend fuel economizer (like a Lexus GS450h or the hybrid Tahoe) or their mother’s. Left to their own devices, youths choose fast and big every time. Even if it required a coal-burning engine and a gas mask, teens and China would drive if they could.
I’ve been raising teenagers for about seven years now, without a break, and what’s most appalling about it is the realization that our barbarism is still so firmly coded in our DNA. Ask any survivor of parenting this age group and they will tell you; the most you can pray to do during this time is keep them from dying. Forget imparting values, religion, decency and character during this time. That’s why most major religions consider their important work done by the time a child is thirteen–after that, it’s helter skelter until they are finally humbled by having children of their own.
Maturity isn’t acquired in life–it is beaten into us. And my question is: Who is going to beat these nuclear-armed and increasingly rich adolescent countries into such old-fogey behaviors like delayed gratification and working for the mutual good? It’s not their fault that all the fun stuff we Americans and Western Europeans have been flaunting for decades only becomes available to developing countries now that we’ve seen the ice caps melting and have fought several wars over oil dependence. They want to play, too. In fact, we’ve been creating this insatiable hunger in them with our goods, movies, music and tobacco commercials. Now we have to go and tell them that it all causes cancer, at the very least? What a buzz kill.
With teenagers, parents can hide the car keys or take away the credit cards, but India and China are making their own keys and cars now and we turn to them, hat in hand for credit. I’m sure it’s much like what Miley Cyrus’s parents experience. And we certainly can’t win with corporal punishment because they, like my own teens, are bigger and have more energy than we do.
All we can hope is that they quickly get hooked on the cult of celebrity because once they start worshipping their own Speidis, vapidity will cast the same opiate fog over them that they have on our kids. Until then, we should do what parents of teens do everywhere, wring our hands and pray that this, too, shall pass.