"Save the Planet by Banning Ice Cream" is an article in which Chris W. Bell challenges the archetypical environmentalist radical. These activists try to convince us that we must reduce our consumption of energy and natural resources in order to save our beloved planet. They are rapidly converting more and more people to being "green." Likewise, people are perfectly willing to use fluorescent light bulbs, drive stylish, gas-pinching cars, even recycle a few bottles to save the world. If all these things conserve so much energy, then why aren't people asked to give up all their electronic luxuries? Wouldn't that make a much larger difference in the conservation effort? People are willing to make slight changes in behavior but real sacrifices are conveniently unmentioned in most environmental movements. At what point will the radicals be satisfied? How many trees do we have to plant? How far do we have to go before they say "Alright. That should do it."? We may not be around long enough to find out.
Though he accepts that the Earth is in trouble, Bell states that problems we face in society now must be solved before environmental dangers of the distant future should be addressed. In lines 54-57 he says, "We are told that global warming is a crisis. There are wars going on in our world today; there is terrorism, poverty, and oppression. There is starvation and disease. There is ignorance and illiteracy. There are broken families and crime-ridden streets. There are dictatorships and oligarchies. There are natural disasters and purposeful inhumanity." Yes, cutting down trees is bad for Mother Earth, but we must prioritize which problems we should focus on solving first. There is no use preserving a planet for a generation that will never thrive to see it.
Bell articulates that if we really do buy into the doctrine of tree-huggers, then we must fully commit to living an earth-friendly lifestyle. There can be no gray; no one-foot-in, one-foot-out. He uses the production of ice cream as an example in lines 80-86. "Imagine how much energy it takes to support ice cream. We must feed and water the cattle that are raised for the cream. We must supply the energy to make and freeze the ice cream, we must use energy to make the containers to pack the ice cream, and we must use energy to transport the ice cream from the dairy to the store. We must use energy to keep the ice cream frozen in the market, we must use energy to drive to the market, and we must also use energy to power our freezers where we store the ice cream. Just think of the energy we could save if we got rid of ice cream." This exemplifies that we cannot pretend to truly care about the fate of the Earth while we watch known environment-damaging operations prevail.
The reasoning preached by activists is also flawed in that there are social consequences to extreme measures of environmental preservation. We should not become cavemen simply to save energy. Technology, like everything, has benefits as well as hindrances. Technology brings education to children all over the world, it builds relationships, spreads information and brings warnings to people in danger. It allows for scientific discoveries that lead to advances in medicine. Nothing of value comes without cost. We must make Earth a place worth living before we try to save it.