Here I sit in a wooden Adirondack rocker (a pretense of hominess) in the Baltimore airport, tethered by cord to a fresh supply of electricity my phone and computer are nursing. I am doing all this without knowing how much coal it takes or the corresponding contribution I am making to ocean acidification. Meanwhile, I am invisibly strapped to Wi-Fi and only vaguely aware of the terrible environmental impact of Cloud storage facilities.
But that is only the beginning of my carbon-loading meal. Soon I will pig out on 2.4 gallons of gasoline per mile on my way to New Hampshire so that I can then use more gasoline to drive three hours to the Green Mountains of Vermont where I live under the delusion of a relatively small carbon footprint.
I will arrive in the sweet little airport outside Manchester, drive through the White Mountains and Franconia Notch, and north along beautiful rivers driving up and over lush green mountains without any personal indication of what my travels have cost the health of the planet and, consequently, your health and mine. Given that it is Memorial Day weekend multiply my dirty, filthy, carbon-belching journey by several million – and that is just for the United States.
I am as conscious as many about my carbon footprint, perhaps more than most, but even so I leave a Shaquille O’Neal sized one. Though I do not travel by air that much, I put thousands of miles on my car and burn electricity and home heating oil like nobody’s business. I like to think I practice good stewardship but even if everyone in the developing world only produced as much pollution as I do we would still be courting near disaster.
We used to fret about disposable diapers and I used to say that once something like that was on the market there was no putting the genie back in the bottle. We are in serious trouble and better find a way to start stuffing all the genies we have created into the past or there will be no future. Seriously, we need a much greater sense of urgency.
I am not a climate scientist, or any kind of scientific thinker, but it does not require anything more than common sense and a slight scrapping away of denial to recognize we are in deep shit here.
I do not have great suggestions other than practicing good stewardship as much as possible in any of the ways available to us; and to stoke the fires of urgency and concern anywhere, everywhere and between anyone we are able. That is what I am doing today with you.