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Clothes, The Next "Green" Sacrifice

Go naked and save the planet!

By Kermit Frosch  |  July 1, 2009

Throughout human history, all religions have required personal sacrifices which are valued primarily for their symbolic value.  Catholic priests must remain celibate for no particular practical reason; recent history highlights the unfortunate fact that a great many of them have a hard time following this rule.  Traditional Catholic laymen were expected to abstain from meat on Friday and from various luxuries during Lent; Muslims practice a daytime fast during the entire month of Ramadan; and many Baptists believe that drinking alcohol or playing with cards is a sin to be avoided at all cost.

The modern pagan religion of environmentalism is no different.  We've been called upon to sacrifice the modern comforts of indoor climate control, affordable food, safe cars, flush toilets, the personal liberty of international air travel, our economy, and even our use of electricity.  Now comes the New York Times, naturally enough, suggesting the unkindest cut of all: To save the planet, we need to give up our clothes.

With summer upon us, how many green vacationers' fancies will turn to thoughts of nudism?  Going without clothes on beaches and other vacation spots is commonly called naturism - a description that implies helping the planet, as some practitioners claim to be doing.  Spending more time with nothing on stems waste and pollution in all sorts of ways...

Well.  If one is on the beach in Rio or Malibu, this sounds an appealing idea.  Alas, not all beaches are as pulchritudinously endowed as one might surmise from TV shows.  Maybe I go to the wrong places, but most spots I find myself would be positively improved by a few burkhas - or a secondhand tent; nudity might lower the air pollution, but it would send visual pollution through the roof.

There's a reason clothes were invented, and until Mr. Obama's universal health care plan provides free plastic surgery, depilation, and liposuction for all, the last thing 99% of Americans need to do is doff their duds.

"Oh, yes, they call me the Streak.  Whee!
I like to show off my physique."

Make sure you have a physique first, please.

Then there's the question of time and place.  Going au naturel on a nice soft sandy beach is one thing.  Trying it while, say, hiking or rock climbing is quite another - though, it would appear, there are those that do.  Time to call my broker to buy more shares of Johnson & Johnson, purveyors of Band-Aids!  Or do those count as clothes?  Guess it depends on where you need to put them.

Nevertheless, our nation's Newspaper of Record not only exposes this idea to the public - God forbid that it should plant a germ of an idea in the mind of our ruling nanny-state - but it reveals what we did not want to know: that there are already organizations dedicated to its promotion.

Will we shortly be regaled with the sight of Al Gore on a billboard saying "I'd rather go naked than increase global warming?"  One shudders to imagine future Congressional hearings on the subject, though from a walk down K Street, this particular movement might have a difficult time recruiting effective and willing lobbyists.  Let's just say it probably won't be Ted Kennedy's retirement gig, though he might be helpful in suggesting others better equipped for the task.

Mr. Obama promised transparency in his administration.  He's delivered none thus far; here's hoping he doesn't latch onto this scheme as a way to "fulfill" that abandoned promise.