Friday, June 27, 2008

An environmentalist's manifesto

July is special, so I'm going to devote it entirely to a fun subject. No environmental stuff, no political junk, just my thoughts on music and why all these young whippersnappers with their "hip hop" and "rock 'n' roll" should get off my lawn.

To compensate, I'll leave you, my faithful reader(s), with my militant and proselytizing manifesto.
There's a lot of focus within the environmental movement on conservation: we take for granted that it's our right as humans to consume and consume, and if we've committed any sin, it's that we've consumed inefficiently. We should rethink that mindset.

I would submit that we never had a carte blanche in the first place; we've been taking luxuries as fundamental necessities without thinking, like some character out of The Great Gatsby who's slowly starting to realize that his money isn't coming from a deep trust fund but from a line of credit.

Let's take driving, because it's always fun to beat a dead horse. According to one site I found that lists carbon emissions by mode of transportation, a 180 lb man creates about 200 lbs of CO2 every mile he drives alone in a car. It won't go away for thousands of years.

Okay, cars pollute — nothing new. But the crux is that driving isn't a basic right, it's a huge convenience. Humans survived tens of thousands of years without more than feet, horses and wheels, but we've forgotten all that in the last century. Suddenly, it's not driving that's fast and easy; it's walking or biking that are slow and hard.

It would behoove us all to remember that when we drive, use a computer, turn on the A/C or do any number of other activities that consume power, we're going above and beyond what nature was designed to let us do. We're spending what we were never given to spend.

I'm guilty too; I drive several times a week, use a computer for hours a day and enjoy the A/C at work. But I feel guilty about it, which makes me think every time I do something that pollutes, which makes me do it a lot less. It may be melodramatic and smack of self-flagellation, but I think it's one case where a bit of guilt is deserved and well placed. To put it bluntly: every animal has to pollute a bit, but we might ask ourselves what gives us the right to so grossly exceed our allowance.

And when you stop and think about it, taking an extra half-hour to use public transportation instead of driving isn't really that inconvenient. You're still saving a lot of time compared to having to walk those 6 miles. And if you bring a book or a magazine or manage to grab a seat and doze off for a few, it can honestly be a nice experience.

Hmm, that last graf
wasn't too manifesto-esq, was it? Don't tell Marx.

On an unrelated note for anyone who's holding their breath for the answer to the math question I posed a while back: I haven't crunched the numbers yet, but I will at some point. The suspense will keep you coming back!


Spelunker said...

Was this post designed to make me feel bad for making you drive me places? Because if so, good job. Thanks a lot! ;o)

Yuval Shavit said...

Not so much to make you feel bad... more to make you understand why I feel bad. ;-)