In an interview with MSNBC host Alex Witt, Reverend Billy Talen of the Church of Stop Shopping linked the journey of millions to storefronts on Black Friday to the global warming that ultimately fueled Superstorm Sandy.
“We have a 1,000-mile hurricane, Sandy, that — you know, you’ve been talking about little else for three weeks, haven’t you?” Talen said. “There’s a message there from Sandy, and that’s, we have to change our lives.”
Talen, who has toured the country in a parody of religious revivals aimed at getting people to stop being such voracious consumers, also alluded to a 2009 study by Mindclick SGM saying that carbon emissions from shopping on Black Friday were 50 times higher than for the increasingly-popular “Cyber Monday,” where many online retailers spotlight their own bargains.
“The shift toward online commerce is part of the overall trend of IT leading to dematerialization, or virtual goods and services replacing physical goods,” Gigaom reported after the study’s release, adding that an increasing emphasis on virtual conferencing as opposed to physical meetings could reduce global carbon emissions by 500 million tons by 2020.
However, Witt said, the reality is that it’s not just shoppers out on the road in the holiday crush, but also people either looking for jobs or taking what hours they can get in retail positions to support their families.
“There’s all sorts of things that come into a family, whether it be a Hurricane Sandy event, or a losing their job event, that hits a house hard,” Witt said.
Talen responded by saying that people can’t afford to look at the world via a macro-vs-micro lens.
“We have to be macro now,” he said. “We finally got the politicians to say the phrase, ‘climate change.’ We have to finally make a change. And that change is taking place. There’s a quiet revolution in this country. People are going to sustainable local economies, ma and pa stores, farmer’s markets, swap and thrift and repair it, don’t necessarily throw it away as quickly. We are doing that and it’s not getting reported very [often].”
Watch Witt’s interview with Talen, aired Friday on MSNBC, below.