Do you remember the news article that highlighted the uproar by environmental activists when President George W. Bush refused to agree to the terms of the Kyoto Treaty on climate change?
I think he also refused to travel to the conference. What was perhaps even more disturbing was his logic, that unless the People’s Republic of China – the world’s number-one consumer of fossil fuel and producer of carbon emissions and pollution – agreed to the same rules, any changes made by the United States to be more environmentally-responsible would have little positive global impact.
An argument could be made that by not using the fossil fuel necessary to fly Air Force One to Kyoto, or wherever the conference was being held, was an environmentally responsible decision. When one considers the cost of jet fuel to fly a 747 abroad, or the “emissions” from a presidential contingent of organic carbon-based life forms who, according to recent research, contribute as much as 10% to world climate change (yes, there is now “flatulence” research blaming cattle and human “emissions” for global warming), then President Bush actually helped climate change by deciding not to travel. Still, his logic for excusing the U.S. from even trying because China wouldn’t, still rubs me the wrong way. This is the kind of logic I used on my mom as a seven-year-old: “I shouldn’t have to eat my peas because my sister didn’t eat hers!”
Recently, however, I have become more aware that there might be some truth to this 10-gallon logic. In fact, I am more than a little embarrassed to note that as smart I thought I was, I may have learned something that this oft-maligned and presumed buffoon of a President must have understood over 5 years ago. In truth, it took more than a Bushism for me to learn this lesson about our role as environmentally-conscious individuals. For me, my understanding actually changed this morning while trying to recycle an aluminum can after drinking my daily serving of V-8 juice.
We don’t need no stinkin’ Green… Stress
To know me is to know how much I hate vegetables.
O.K., that was mean.
I don’t hate vegetables.
What did vegetables ever do to me?
Nothing, but I do dislike eating vegetables.
This may have come from being force-fed beets during the year I was in the hospital and in a body cast after being run over by a car.
Still, I realize the need for the nutrients vegetables provide and so, for my fast-paced lifestyle, I just grab a can of V-8 juice… and a clothespin…for my nose, since icky things don’t taste as bad when you can’t smell them.
Just after finishing this morning’s can of V-8, and before throwing the empty can into the recyclables wastebasket, I went to the sink to rinse out the can when I had to exclaim, “Am I wasting water to prepare a can for recycling?!!!”
I can be pretty dramatic when I am alone.
This stressful dilemma might be easier to resolve for our over-watered readers in the Pacific Northwest or the Philippines, where rainfall is between 40 and 80-inches-a-year. For those of us in the desert of Las Vegas, however, who are just coming out of a 10-year drought and can actually be fined for wasting water, this was very real, and very stressful.
Sorry, aluminum can, must conserve water first. So much for recycling.
There are probably others like me who find it difficult to commit to green because of the stress caused from having to take sides with one resource or another.
Which am I supposed to save, the planet, water, aluminum, money, or electricity?
Where is electricity being saved, anyway?
What if by saving a resource, it actually costs us more money?
This just happened here in Las Vegas after our Water District made us conserve water for a decade, only to enact a price increase to compensate for their lost revenue from our having conserved water. Let me get this straight, because I followed your advice and am using less water, you are charging me more money?
Electric cars save fossil fuels, but they use more electricity. What if an all-new car charging station sucks down the electricity from the amount I saved at home? And while we’re on the subject, how environmentally-friendly can a Lo-Flo toilet be if it has to be flushed two-to-three times just to handle your coworker’s night of All-You-Can-Eat sushi?
Don’t make me take sides!
Before any of us can be expected to commit to an environmentally-conscious lifestyle, there must be a Circle of Life in place first, a complete eco-system instead of a few isolated “good ideas” that create all-new prices to pay somewhere else.
If not, then just the fear of wasting one resource to save another will leave us environmentally stressed out. And why am I paying the recycling center to pick up my recyclables? Shouldn’t they be paying me, like they pay crackheads for used copper tubing?
About the author:
Tiger Todd is the founder and CEO of Hero School and Heroes Inc. He is a motivational speaker, a business consultant, and a powerful changemaker. For the past 10+ years, he has been devoted to solving the issue of homelessness.
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