Friday, 14 November 2014

Are you a resource-destroying nutball? A short quiz

   1. Do you turn on the kitchen faucet for ambience while cooking?

  2Do you light the burners on your stove and then go for a run?

  3. Do you irrigate a yard comprised entirely of concrete?

  4. Do you run the laundry machine while empty?
  5. Do you leave all the lights on and turn the thermostat to 80˚F when you go on vacation?
  6. Do you buy things at the store and then throw them directly in the garbage?

If you answered “no, of course not!” to all of these questions, congratulations! You are probably not intentionally destroying the planet. Let me introduce you, however, to a person who might think differently.

This has nothing to do with the story, but don't get me started on these puppies
A few days ago, I stopped with my 3-yr old at a shopping center nearby and popped in to get an ice cream. It was a nice sunny day, so we sat on the tailgate of our truck while R. enjoyed his rainbow sherbet. In the row of cars behind us, I kept being distracted by a man pacing around behind his car and having an animated phone conversation. The conversation was punctuated now and then by mild swearing and energetic gesticulation, usually followed by a quick pivot before the speaker stomped off in the other direction. From what I could overhear, the conversation consisted of one long rant about something work-related. I felt sorry for his colleagues. 

We had been sitting and enjoying the sun and ice cream for about 10 minutes when I realized that this guy had his car running the entire time we had been sitting there. My eavesdropping suggested that the conversation was not going to be wrapped up anytime soon, so I did what any normal conservation-minded person might: I picked R. up on my hip, stomped over to the guy, and interrupted his phone call.

Me: There is no point polluting the air by running your car when you aren’t using it.

Guy: [To me] Huh?
[To phone] Hold On.
[To me, after looking up] The sky looks pretty damn clean to me. Besides, this is an eco car.

Me: Ok, but it doesn’t run on nothing. It’s called climate change.
[Side note: I am not, apparently, very eloquent when confronting someone]

Guy: Oh. Well, whatever. Would it make you happy if I turned it off?

Me: Yes.

Guy: Ok… [complete with a “you-are-a-psycho” eye roll]

Me:  Thank you very much.

Guy: Are you married?

Me: Yes, and I have a kid. [Obviously, considering the creature eating ice cream on my hip]

Guy: Wow, lucky him!

I assume this last part of the exchange was meant to be sarcastic – perhaps he was hoping I would say “no” so that he could say something like “well, duh. You are a meddling bee-atch, guys don’t like that.” Oh well.

So, perhaps this person wasn’t intentionally burning fossil fuels for no good reason, he just didn’t think about it. But there is no good reason to waste resources – we use enough of them living our lives (yes, I do turn the lights on at night, and take showers and heat my home occasionally).
What a fantastic use of fossil fuels! Heat up the planet more quickly by directly burning fuel when no one is around to be warmed by outdoor heaters; just use them to up the ambience at your pool! Woohoo.

I regularly see similar incredibly wasteful activities all around – restaurants that burn outdoor heaters out on the sidewalk to attract customers, although no one is sitting outside; seemingly thoughtful parents idling their cars for 20 minutes outside the school waiting for their kids; businesses that blast air conditioning or heat yet leave the doors wide open (I’m looking at you, Home Depot). Must people really have a Styrofoam cup on top of their plastic cup full of iced coffee, complete with plastic top and plastic straw, Dunkin’ Donuts? Could they not, if they really need it, use one of those stupid paper sleeves to protect their precious fingertips from getting too cold?

Usually these days, I don’t say anything when I see egregious planet-destroying activities – perhaps I had enough old dudes yelling at me to mind my own business, the Bible says we are allowed to destroy everything, etc. when I was younger and more vocal (I still remember two such interactions very distinctly – one with a diver obsessed with getting as many “bugs” as possible, and one with a cattle rancher who thought the planet was created specifically for us to use up). But I think this must stop. We have to start pointing out ridiculously wasteful activities when we see them, or they will continue and this planet will not sustain us for any longer.

End of rant.

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