Thanks to my friend and permie buddy M. back in Austin, I had the word on when Al Gore’s global warming movie, An Inconvenient Truth, was opening here in Santa Fe. (Warning: The website is good but it has persistent music that I can’t figure out how to turn off.) Opening night, this past Friday, I dragged five fellow Freako-versity denizens along and we had a worthwhile and fun evening. Though I found the film a bit short on detailed practical advice, I personally liked a lot about the film. For one, Gore showed a lot of pictures and graphs that made the situation clear. The graphs that really stood out in my mind were the ones that showed temperature variations for the last thousand years and for the last 650,000 years — though, as global warming naysayers point out, fluctuations are normal, recent decades are totally off the charts.
The movie takes the form of a “town meeting” where Gore is speaking to an audience of regular folks in a gymnasium or someplace, and the people in the theater are made to feel like part of that audience. At the end, he gives some hope in the form of a graph showing various general things we can do that, if all of us did them all, would go a long way toward reversing the global warming trend. And he gives a website, www.climatecrisis.org, where among other things you can calculate your own carbon emissions in relation to the average.
I have to admit I got an eye-opener there. Average carbon dioxide emissions per capita in the US (which accounts for 30% of total global emissions despite constituting only 5% of the total world population) are 15,000 pounds per year. Excluding my driving, my carbon dioxide emissions are about 3,000 pounds per year, or about one-fifth the average. But when I factor in my driving, I’m more like two-thirds the average. The fact that I drive a Ford F-150 truck an average of 7,000 miles per year (5,000 miles less than the average, which is 12,000 miles per year) causes me to emit 7,500 pounds of C02 per year! Yikes. Really makes me think. I could get rid of my truck, or I could drive less. Since most of my driving consists of cross-country roadtrips, driving less would have to translate into hitching more, or taking Grayhound more (both of which would offer plenty of good points in addition to the environmental merits). For now I have no plans to get rid of my truck. But since I’m staying in one place for the next few months, I’ll only be driving an average of about 50 miles per month if that.
One thing I plan to do soon is write my elected officials and urge them to advocate tax incentives to companies that let their employees telecommute. I think that would go a long way toward reducing C02 emissions.
On a related note, of the six of us who attended the movie together, four drove to the theater, one in a high-mileage vehicle. One rode her bike, and one (me) walked. When I went up to the counter to get an extra squirt of butter for my popcorn, one of my (female, diet-obsessed) companions looked askance and said something like, “Whoa, if you’re gonna keep up that butter habit, you’d better step up your jogging!”
I just laughed and said, “Uh … have you taken a look at me lately?”
Walking is such a good way to see the city and to burn off recreationally consumed lipids. And Santa Fe, at least the part where I stay, seems to deploy outdoor illumination in moderation, making a nighttime walk a deliciously dark experience.