Bob Hunter, R.I.P. 

Bob Hunter, R.I.P.

Here I go again, speaking ill of the dead.

For a while we've been watching Breakfast Televission on CITY before we leave in the morning. There Bob Hunter has been, in his pajamas and robe, discussing the main stories in the papers.

When he died, a memory stirred. Didn't he admit fairly recently that he had just given up, or mostly given up, his car? I found it.

The great environmentalist was taking his car back and forth to work, in a very transit-friendly city, until March 2001--when he was close to 60. A year earlier, in 2000, he wrote some kind of paean to the joys of the car, and urged environmentalists not to attack cars as such, but the polluting fuels that we still, unfortunately, use.

Think globally, act locally Bob? Born in 1941, he was (just) too old to be a boomer, but surely this is a familiar pattern. Endless lectures about the environment, even about the amount of carbon each of us consumes--especially if we drive. Time magazine "hero of the planet," or something. Yet he drives every day. He at least attempts an excuse--he is so far out in the suburbs, he's hardly in Toronto at all. It would take a long time to take transit. Poor baby. Now that he's (at least partially) converted, he loves reading on the LRT. He couldn't have figured out this possibility before?

And what made him change? Not to giving up his car completely, but cutting back on its use for commuting?

He was almost crushed between two tractor-trailers on the freeway. "I came as close to being killed as I can remember." He was fwightened into changing his habits. References to St. Paul, etc.

He also realizes something about himself. "There was no rational reason for me to take chances like that. It was just a bad habit I'd gotten into. Pushing the envelope. Always in a rush." Does this even help explain some of his famous exploits with Greenpeace--putting himself between the whalers and the whales? Adrenaline rush, in addition to the chance to make a career, which is what actually happened?

Did he always give in to impulses of hope and fear, driven by his own comfort? If so, this isn't environmentalism; at best it's epicureanism. I guess we're supposed to appreciate his honesty.

On the other hand, there's another founder of Greenpeace who is avoiding the cliches of environmental scare tactics: Dr. Patrick Moore.

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