« The Mystery Girl | Main | 27 - Growing Hatred »

American Pie: Thinking Green - Or Just Not Thinking?

Global warming is a hot topic in the United States, but the majority of consumers are taking their own sweet time to do the right thing, says John Merchant.

“What do the deniers think – that coal keeps growing in the ground; that oil is somehow replenishing its self; that trees are going to grow in a fraction of the time they do now so that they can be harvested more frequently to meet increasing demand? Do they imagine that the air pollutants will magically dissipate, and that the chemicals that leach into the rivers and lakes, or that are deposited there by industry and agriculture, will just go away?’’

To read more of John’s powerful prose please click on American Pie in the menu on this page.

Global warming is a hot topic in the US, as I imagine it is elsewhere in the world. The media here, and the US Government, are exhorting citizens to “Think Green,” and daily are belaboring anyone who will listen with examples that “prove” global warming is a reality, and that we’re the cause. The incessant reminders are tedious at best and at worst depressing.

Sometime I think that if I see another picture of a melting ice cap or a Chinese power plant belching greenhouse gases I’ll cancel my newspaper subscription and confine my TV- watching to D.I.Y shows. Even then I may not be entirely isolated from the propaganda, since the most popular D.I.Y shows are constantly promoting solar energy, new insulating materials and energy efficient appliances.

But in the end, constant repetition and exposure is what it takes to get through to the majority of American citizens. An educated minority catches on early, and is often sneered at for their adoption of life styles and practices that reflect a concern about the environment and the depletion of global resources. Excoriated as “Tree Huggers,” and “Bleeding Heart Liberals,” these folks generally are in the vanguard of what all of us should be doing.

The majority of consumers take their own sweet time to do the right thing. It took decades and massive litigation against the tobacco companies to persuade people that smoking was bad for their health, and to ban it from public places. Only now, after almost 20 years, do citizens recycle their waste materials properly, and some still don’t understand what can be recycled and what cannot. And now we’re at the beginning of a global warming crusade to conserve the world’s resources and environment.

As I look around me, I see plenty of evidence that Americans are either in denial about the depletion of global resources and damage to the environment, or that they simply don’t care. Go to any supermarket parking lot in Florida and you’ll see a pick-up truck or a giant sports utility vehicle with the engine running to maintain the air conditioning so the driver can sleep while his wife gets the groceries. That same driver is likely among those who complain the loudest about the price of gas.

Go to a restaurant, a department store, a shopping mall or any large building in a region of America where the weather is warm, and you’ll find the air conditioning temperature set so low that workers and customers have to put on sweaters and jackets. The development I live in has a large community swimming pool and a hot tub. The pool water is maintained at 85 degrees, even when the nighttime temperature drops into the fifties!

Residents use the hot tub and leave the jet pump running when they’re done, even though the switch is just four yards from the tub. I go into the men’s locker room and see taps left running, soda cans in the waste paper bin and men chatting while holding the steam room door open. Many of the hundreds of palm trees fringing the community lake are floodlit all through the night. Enter someone’s home and there’s a pretty good chance there’ll be a TV switched on with nobody watching.

I’m beginning to notice a few hybrid cars now, but no real diminishment of the larger sports utility vehicles, and, anecdotally, perhaps even an increase in those civilian “HumVee’s so beloved of drivers with identity problems. At the same time, since some counties in Florida do not require vehicle inspections or emission tests, young, and some not so young motoring enthusiasts are modifying their cars by eliminating the catalytic converter and installing “straight-through” exhaust systems!

What do the deniers think – that coal keeps growing in the ground; that oil is somehow replenishing its self; that trees are going to grow in a fraction of the time they do now so that they can be harvested more frequently to meet increasing demand? Do they imagine that the air pollutants will magically dissipate, and that the chemicals that leach into the rivers and lakes, or that are deposited there by industry and agriculture, will just go away?

The Hudson River is the thirty-third most polluted river in the United States. Two GE facilities alone contaminated over 200 miles of the river from Hudson Falls to the New York Harbor. GE was found guilty of dumping more than one million pounds of PCB's over a 30-year period. The US Government’s Environmental Protection Agency and GE have reached a settlement that allows the company to back out after removing only 10 percent of the contaminated sediment targeted for removal, leaving the remainder of the cleanup in doubt.

In 2007, the world's population reportedly reached over 6.6 billion, and is expected to reach over 9 billion by the year 2050. The USA population soon will reach 300 million. According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, the resident population of the United States was 299,811,596 in 2006. There's a net gain in U.S. population of more than 260,000 every month. So even if we simply maintain the status quo in terms of how much pollution occurs per individual, the aggregate cannot help but get worse. Wake up America – and think.

# # #

Categories

Creative Commons License
This website is licensed under a Creative Commons License.