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Saturday, April 21, 2012

Stop The Smoggies!

It’s been 42 years since “Earth Day” was founded, and as a result of this, I’ve decided to dedicate this weekend’s entries by focusing on some environmentally friendly subjects.

The first Earth Day observances were held in 1970, though two separate events were held.  The first one was held on March 21 in San Francisco, but one month later, on April 22, United States senator Gaylord Nelson called for an “environmental teach-in” after witnessing the devastating aftermath of a 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara, California.  A reported 20 million people took part in Earth Day festivities on April 22, 1970, and has been celebrated on April 22 in years since.

Although the day had huge success in the United States since its inception, it wasn’t until 1990 that the day became celebrated worldwide, with its programs devoted to environmental protection and recycling.  The 1990 Earth Day celebrations helped pave the way for the United Nations Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.

As of 2012, Earth Day is now estimated to be celebrated by half a billion people every year, and a total of 175 countries observe Earth Day every April 22.  That is phenomenal.

I know that I certainly do my part to make the world a more environmentally friendly place.  I use reusable shopping bags, I try not to buy items with a lot of packaging, and I certainly try not to waste resources.  When I was younger, I even took part in a workshop called “Catch A Star” in which we learned more about how to take care of our planet, and preserve it for future generations.  I even still have the mug and Dr. Zed’s Science Experiments book that I won during the workshop.

I think the message is of Earth Day is one that we can all benefit from.  I believe that we all have the right to live in a world that is clean, safe, and beautiful.

I’ll readily admit that whenever I see people being wasteful, or ignorant about disposing of their trash and garbage, it makes me very disgusted.  I wonder if they’re aware that the more they pollute our planet, the more that their quality of life decreases.

Of course, you’d have a difficult time telling Emma, Clarence, and Polluto that.  To them, the destruction of a few ecosystems is nothing to them as long as they can get whatever they desire.

Now I suppose that you’re wondering who Emma, Clarence, and Polluto are, right?  I suppose I should introduce you to them by posting the intro to today’s Saturday Morning blog topic.

That was the introduction to the Cinar produced cartoon series “The Smoggies” (or “Stop the Smoggies” in the United States).  Debuting in 1988, the series was a joint production between France and Canada.  The show aired in Canada, the United States, France, and Ireland throughout the 1990s.

The cartoon’s setting was the fictional Coral Island, a tropical island where the homes and villages were run with solar energy and wind and water powered equipment.  The island happens to be the home of a group of people known as the Suntots.

Now, granted the Suntots sort of resembled troll dolls, but don’t let their short stature and rainbow coloured hair fool you.  The Suntots were intelligent, brilliant, caring, and environmentally friendly.  Coral Island was definitely one beautiful place where everyone who lived there had fun, and where everybody enjoyed a safe, clean place to call home.

Unfortunately, a certain area outside of Coral Island happened to be dirty, disgusting, and just plain toxic.  If one were to look out at the horizon just outside of the island, they might spot a boat out on the water with enough smoke billowing out of it to give asthma to the entire city of Seattle.

The boat was known as the SS Stinky Poo, a coal fired steam ship that turned both the air and the water beneath a disgusting shade of dark brown.

This boat happens to be the home of the Smoggies...Emma, Clarence, and Polluto.

And the reason that they were there was all about greed.  It didn’t matter that they were destroying the planet with their steam ship of toxicity.  They were only after one thing.

The magic coral of Coral Island.

Everybody has heard of the various legends surrounding the “fountain of youth”, where there is a secret spring that has water that supposedly keeps a person looking youthful. 

According to Emma, the magic coral was her “fountain of youth”.  The legend of Coral Island stated that the secret behind the youthful appearance of the Suntots was the magic coral that supposedly surrounded the island.  And, Emma, being absolutely obsessed with looking young and beautiful wanted to get her hands on every single piece of coral she could get.

In regards to Emma, I suppose one could admire her determination and her reluctance to give up on her dream.  That is however where my respect for her ends.  Although she was only a fictional character, Emma was probably one of the meanest cartoon bullies I’ve ever seen.  She kidnapped Suntots for ransom until they gave her magic coral, and she lied and deceived people all to satisfy her own selfish desires.  A real piece of work, she was.

Certainly, her husband Clarence was no help in controlling his cold, calculating wife.  He was actually kind of a doormat to Emma.  The more she abused and took advantage of him, the more he seemed to take it!  Although Clarence tried to help Emma out by creating inventions that could assist her in her quest for coral, they usually ended up doing more harm than good.

Polluto on the other hand was kind of a double agent of sorts.  On the surface he was simple-minded and was widely regarded as an idiot by Emma.  Yet, as the only crew member of the SS Stinky Poo, Polluto proved his worth in more ways than one.  Aside from running the ship’s boiler room, he cooked, cleaned, and did almost everything under the sun and moon for Emma and Clarence, usually with little to no appreciation in return.

So it’s no surprise that Polluto sometimes befriended the Suntots when he was feeling bad about himself.  Despite what the Smoggies were doing, the Suntots were still happy, and often treated Polluto with more respect than Emma.  I think that Polluto’s intentions were kind-hearted, and the only reason he did pollute was due to his desire to do his job, not being aware of how harmful it was.

The Suntots however, were well-prepared against the arsenal of attacks that Emma and Clarence launched at them in their quest for the special age-defying coral. 

Princess Lila, the scarlet-haired ruler of Coral Island loved her people, and was more often than not the person who stood up to the wickedness of the Smoggies the most.  She even tried to convince Emma that there WAS no magic coral, but of course, Emma was too greedy and materialistic to take that into consideration.

And Princess Lila had help from all the Suntots on the island in protecting the island from the pollution caused by the Smoggies.  There was Speed, a blue-haired Suntot who could solve problems faster than he could swim underwater.  Chip, the orange-haired Suntot responsible for building environmentally friendly inventions meant to improve the quality of life on the island.  You had Cookie, a pink-haired Suntot who prepares most of the food on the island (in environmentally friendly ways, of course).  And, there’s Uncle Boom, the oldest Suntot on the island who despite his absent-mindedness proves to be an effective ally.

Throughout the whole series, the Suntots teach the viewers about how we can make our world a better place, and offered us tips on how we can preserve our planet instead of harming it.

Though as far back as I can remember, I don’t believe that Emma ever did find that magical coral that if it existed, would have helped her stay twenty-seven forever.  So, the question is, was Princess Lila correct in saying that the magic coral didn’t exist?

I tend to believe that this is the case.  Have you noticed how happy and vibrant the Suntots were in comparison to the Smoggies, who were miserable and grouchy?  I believe that the surroundings are a major factor behind why this was the case.  Wouldn’t you feel more vibrant, energetic, and young on a beautiful island filled with crystal blue water, blooming flowers, and clean, fresh air?  I know I would. 

Seriously, looking at the SS Stinky Poo, it was a black, disgusting, depressing place.  I reckon that all that smoke that billowed out of the smokestacks prematurely aged Emma thirty years or more alone!  I certainly wouldn’t feel young breathing in all that pollution. 

There was no magic coral.  It was all an illusion.  But if Emma could have woken up and realized that the way she was living was causing her more harm than good, then perhaps she could have lived a nice, rewarding life just like her enemies, the Suntots.

Though, I always liked to admit that the reason Emma and the rest of the Smoggies couldn’t find the magic coral was because of the fact that all the pollution that seeped out of the SS Stinky Poo was contaminated and died off.

Wouldn’t that be tragic irony?

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