The Environmental Paradox of Being Born
Upon hearing the story, my first thought was, Hey, that's a good thing. After all, the last thing the parks need (at least when it comes to the most popular parks) is more people. Then I remembered something I read in James Lovelock's new book, The Revenge of Gaia. The visionary Lovelock, who formulated the Gaia hypothesis has doubtless written the most pessimistic of all the current crop of global warming titles. One critic called it, rightly, "powerful" and "disablingly depressing." What a blurb that would make! The feel-bad book of the year! Anyway, to get back to my point, Lovelock writes:
We are, unconsciously, evolving to a state where much of our time is spent using low-energy devices. What a stunningly good invention was the mobile telephone: it exploits the universal tendency of humans to chatter and obliges us to consume hours of the day at minimal cost--it is one of the greatest inventions ever. Small computers of great efficiency are now stealing into our lives to make us spend our time at minimal energy cost, playing games or surfing the net.These idle amusements are good, in Lovelock's Gaia-uber-alles worldview, because they keep us out of our cars and away from the parks and basically parked on our well-larded butts.
And Lovelock's not the only to have ventured out on this logical limb. Another story that has been making the rounds is about how bicycling, while it may be good for you, is actually bad for the planet. How so? Well, you see, bicyclists tend to be fit and thus live longer and therefore use up more of Earth's precious resources. See: The Environmental Paradox of Bicycling (pdf).
By this way of thinking, then, kids playing their video games are doubly good for the planet: They not only fritter away time on sedentary, largely harmless, low-energy pursuits, but presumably they'll also grow fatter and less healthy because of it, eventually dying young and taking a load off the planet as they go.
Hmmm. I think it's time to pack up the family and head to Yosemite.