Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Carbon Footprint -- Saving the World?

This past week I had an interesting conversation with a group of young tourists from the mainland. I'm sort of a "Jay Leno on the Street", having fun asking tourists questions. You never know what answers you'll get, and sometimes it leads to really interesting conversations......and those squirrelly answers too.  

This week's victims...I mean, lovely tourists....we're young people (in their 20's), in Hawaii due to a wedding. They were in a jubilant mood and enjoying Hawaii. With the conversation niceties aside, talk turned to their passionate interest : fixing and saving the world. Aaaaaaaaah, I remember those good old days when I was young like them and thought we could save the world too. And 99% of the old people around me just smiled, not saying a word. 

These young people, while all urban dwellers themselves, were enthusiastic about living "carbon neutral" and lowering ones "petroleum footprint". Ooooooo myyyyyyy, did they not notice that they flew on a fuel guzzling jet to get to Hawaii? They are touring around the island in a rental van, which by the way was shipped then barged to Hawaii? That they all were carrying and using multiple techy tools? That they are eating 90% imported foods while in Hawaii? I'd venture to say, selective observation on their part. 

While I commend these young people on their idealism, perhaps they don't really understand what carbon neutral means. I didn't get the impression that they were just making an exception for this vacation of theirs. None grew any food at home. None sought out locally grown foods other than sweet corn. None made any of their own home decorations, furniture, clothing, gifts, etc. None had visited thrift stores. None used public transportation, a bicycle, nor walked to work or stores. All owned the latest techy toys, obviously updating previous older models. But they did support the use of LED lightbulbs! They believed in recycling their cans and bottles. I'm not all that certain how those last two lower their carbon footprint due to the manufacturing, transportation, and processing involved. 

I wish these young people well on their journey to save the world. I smiled. I said nothing. I discovered that out of politeness, I'm one of the 99% of old people. 

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, even well-meaning folks have a huge disconnect between the scale of action required to head off climate chaos and environmental collapse, vs what's actually being done. Individuals, society at large, and even environmental groups are still suggesting that small adjustments like LEDs and recycling will somehow turn back the destruction. It's a huge problem.

    The only realistic assessment I've seen of the crises we face is in the book Deep Green Resistance. It examines historical movements for change, what worked, and what didn't. It weighs the social and political resources we have now to address environmental issue in a meaningful way, and formulates a strategy which may actually work in the time we have left. I highly recommend it for anyone concerned about the future of our world.

    The Hawai'i library system doesn't have it, unfortunately, but you can read it online at http://deepgreenresistance.net/