I love sports, and in fact have just published the Berkshire Encyclopedia of World Sport, which is edited by David Levinson and yours truly, the wannabe jock. Here’s an extract from The Armchair Environmentalist on becoming an eco-activist:
Throughout history we’ve been trying to find ways to reduce physical labour. We’re still doing it-—with TV remote controls that let us avoid having to walk 2 metres to switch channels and with lights that we can clap on from across the room. It’s all eminently convenient. But the tradeoff is that throughout the developed world people are out of shape. It’s no mere coincidence that the United States—-the land of the free and the home of the self-propelled mower—-is the fattest nation on Earth and is packing on more pounds all the time.
Biologically, people are meant to be active. We’re built that way. Although most of us cannot change the sedentary nature of our jobs, we can reorient our leisure time to be more active. We’ll be happier and healthier and far better able to cope with unavoidable exposure to water, air, and other pollution.
The eco-activist looks for ways to enjoy and explore the natural world by being active outside—in the natural world. Physical activity, at its best, reconnects us with our physical being and, by extension, helps us understand ourselves as part of the natural world. It’s exhilarating to climb to the top of a hill and survey the landscape below or to feel your calf muscles burn after walking or running an extra mile.
Tips for Selecting Sporting Activities
• Choose non-mechanical sports – a canoe or a bicycle instead of a motorboat or a jet ski – both because they’re easier on the planet and also more sociable and stress-relieving.
• Choose cross-country skiing instead of downhill skiing, which has considerable ecological impact – especially because of snow-making machines, and because people have to travel long distances by car and plane to do it.
• Think twice about installing a swimming pool at home, even if you can afford it. Home pools have significant negative environmental impact because of their water and energy consumption.
• Look for leisure activities that you can enjoy close to home—without driving or flying hundreds of miles.