Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Big Thaw

I'd love to celebrate Earth Day today. I'd love to take a walk along the banks of St. Albert's mighty Sturgeon River. But, alas, I have severe tree pollen allergies that keep me inside, wheezing at the window with red, gloppy eyes. Trees - I shake my fist at you!

So I had a laugh when I read Margaret Wente's latest rant in her Globe and Mail column. At the very end of a piece about the sex ed controversy in Ontario she veered off into bashing Earth Day:
"If you’re a parent, it’s not sex ed that deserves to drive you nuts. It’s green ed. Today is Earth Day, as you have surely noticed – the holiest day in the school calendar. All across the land, millions of schoolchildren are being reminded that the glaciers are melting and the polar bears are drowning and the entire planet is in peril."
Maybe it's an Alberta thing, but when I asked my junior high daughter what the plan was for Earth Day at her school, she grumpily replied, "Nothing. Nothing at all." So maybe Wente should relax, Earth Day orthodoxy isn't everywhere.

Personally though, Earth Day seems entirely fine. Over its 40 years it has dropped most of its hemp and hippie roots, and seems mainstream enough that it can guilt even retrograde water bottle buyers into thinking twice.

For the Library Good Reading book picks in the St. Albert Gazette this week I chose a couple books in honour of Earth Day.

Solar by Ian McEwan
McEwan's new novel, Solar, pokes fun at the climate change movement. A departure for the usually quite serious McEwan (Atonement), Solar is a satirical novel about climate change! Michael Beard is a Nobel Prize-winning physicist coasting on work from years past. A freak accident gives him an opportunity to save his fifth marriage, reinvigorate his career and perhaps save the world!

The Big Thaw by Ed Struzik
A slow economy and debates about data may diminish the celebration of Earth Day this year but the fact remains: our Earth is warming. Edmonton writer Struzik has been nominated for a 2010 Alberta Literary Award for this fascinating and alarming investigation of Arctic climate change, based on his eleven trips through the north.