Wednesday, November 17, 2010

carbon footprints were all the rage

I wrote this back in 2008 and came across it tonight. It is a diatribe on what I called "pop environmentalism." Not exactly a human rights entry, but I do think it is an interesting commentary on what we are willing to sacrifice to feed our consumerist tendencies. Enjoy:

Many people are suddenly talking and thinking about their “carbon footprints.” If you don’t’ know what that is referring to, I will paraphrase: it is the impact that your actions have on the Earth’s environment. I think it is great that people are finally thinking about their actions rather than polluting, wasting, and consuming without a second thought, but has it become just another trend? A fad? Will this conscious effort to conserve pass out of fashion with last season’s shoes? I hope not, but I already see how even the good intentions of being “green” are not so great for the planet. A few examples of pop environmentalism are telecommuting to reduce pollution and using alternative fuels in vehicles. Are these really solutions to the problems of our planet or just sound bytes that make people feel “greener?”

Living in the Atlanta area, I know what it is like to drive in traffic. And not just slight congestion and small backups at a traffic light—I’m talking stop and go traffic for 20 miles on I-75 North for hours trying to get home from the city. And that is not an anomaly, but rather the expected and everyday occurrence. Because of this and for other “environmental” reasons many people are being encouraged and are telecommuting: working from their homes, rather than driving into the city to an office. This saves fuel, time, and reduces the emissions from vehicles on the road. It also lessens the amount of repairs and maintenance needed on our roads because they are not being used by as many cars. Not driving your car to work does save you gas, but what about the energy being used to power your computer at home and at your office? What about the energy being used to cool your home and your office? What about the energy being used to power and cool the servers in the enormous building where all of your data is being stored out there in cyberspace? Because it is a real place and it is using real fuel, too. Now I do believe that working from home is a HUGE improvement to commuting to an office every day, but I am challenging you all to see that even a “green” solution is not completely without adverse effect.

And if you do need to drive your car to work every day, why not try using an alternative fuel to petroleum? How about a renewable resource—corn, for instance! Sounds great. Let’s power our cars with corn (ethanol) and we can grow more when we run out. [Cheers heard from the entire country]. CORN: solving our fuel problems, one kernel at a time. Only it isn’t. Ethanol has created a huge demand for corn, putting extreme pressure on farmers and reducing the amount available for consumption as food. This is a major problem because many people in the world rely on corn as a staple that they cannot live without. And now that we are processing it to use in our vehicles, famine is springing up all over. We are burning food in our cars. Does this sound right? I am not willing to sacrifice the lives of innocent people so I can drive back and forth to Target three times a week. Are you?

In the holy trinity of environmentalism you have: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Reduce is first! REDUCE, REDUCE, REDUCE!!

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