Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Inconvenient Tr*uth

I have to write an essay about teaching environmental sustainability for a workshop I am attending in July. The essay is due on the 20th and only has to be one page so naturally I am here on Blogger rather than just doing the dang thing and turning it in so I don't have to think about it anymore.

But really, if someone is going to write an essay on sustainability in this houseful of hippies, it should really be Charlie, not me. He is Mr. Sustainability. Just today we were driving home from church camp and when we passed a car dealership with a truck out front unloading a new batch of giant SUVs when Charlie sighed deeply. I asked him what was wrong. He told me "They're getting even more cars to pollute the earth." He begged me to fill the car up with "hot boiling water" instead of gas last week because burning gas "pollutes the earth". I did not point out that water vapor is also a greenhouse gas, because I like his enthusiasm, but his other suggestion of building brick walls behind all the neighbor's driveways to prevent them from driving their cars was slightly more distressing.

Yesterday Ryan led him through a series of calculations in hopes that the knowledge that installing "four football fields of solar panels" adjacent to our house would cost $320,000 would put an end to the nagging, but it has not, unsurprisingly. Now he just follows me around with his piggy bank asking if maybe he has $320,000 that we can use for solar panels. I should tell him that if we had $320,000 in disposable income we could send him to MIT and he could learn to create alternative energy to his heart's content.

I swear to you that this is not my influence. I have on occasion remarked that it would be better to walk to the store than drive because it would save gas (when it is cold enough that I am not concerned about snakes since we have to walk through a big patch of tall grass), but my real reasoning is that I need to kill three hours and walking to the store for six items is cheap and popular way to do that.

Of course, given the opportunity, I would be the first person to move to a more walkable neighborhood and leave the van behind. You think I like coaxing three shapeshifters into their various plastic thrones so I can enclose myself in a fifty cubic foot space with them and The Crazy for the twenty minutes it takes to get to the church (a.k.a. the only place we ever go why don't we live in one of those perfectly nice houses I can see from the front steps??).

I cringe every time I fill up the car and hate that we are always driving to the store instead of walking (snakes, heavy items). I love his passion and awareness and *I* wish things were different too, so I guess that's why it's so grating to be constantly harassed for driving (ten miles to church, why don't we just walk? Maybe we could ride our bikes? Maybe we could get some solar panels and a sail for the top of the van?) by my five year old Al Gore.


sarah said...

OMG, I love love love love Charlie (especially his idea about walling in the neighbors to keep them from backing their car out of the driveway).

Bless his little environmentalist heart, I know how he feels. Someone recently informed me that the Prius' battery is just as harmful for the overall environment as the fossil fuels its canceling out and I was gutted, as I've been looking so forward to owning a Prius for the I'M SAVING THE WHOLE WIDE WOOOOOORLD factor. Damn it.

Brooke said...

I went through my huge environmental phase a little later in life (2nd grade maybe?) but I remember harassing my parents. It was just before the 4th grade DARE program, which did not ever discuss adults drinking in moderation and therefore I became absolutely convinced that the beer my dad would have after work was a gateway drug to violence and a crack pipe. He seriously gave up beer for about a year because I was such a militant temperance advocate.

I love the idea that Charlie is going to grow up and save the world. With just $320,000!

Also is that true about the Prius battery? I have heard that rumor but also heard it waved away dismissively. (I hope it's not true as we have a Prius.O)

Sarah said...

Prius battery rumor is NOT TRUE.

I don't think it is anyway, but I have heard it before but also dismissed like Brooke. Also, I have a Prius, and I smugly love it.

Charlie is adorable.

G'ma Melody said...

Even if the Prius battery issue is real, I believe we still send the critical message that we are willing to pay a bit extra for alternatives.
And huzzah for Charlie! I too, live with an innate green boy. At seventeen (and nearly all the preceding years) he sorts my garbage to see if I have missed any recyclables; eats vegetarian (in a house full of carnivores); wears clothing until it is nearly transparent; carries invading insects outside to safety; rides a bike instead of driving; and hopes to save the rain forest and liberate all captive animals. He plans to be an entomologist and avoid dissection as much as possible in his studies. I'm sure this is not a phase, but who he truly is. I love, respect, and applaud him, but I don't know where he came from!

Phoenix Rising said...

Yeah, Charlie! Two friends of mine have developed a Convergence Energy Solar Farm on 14 acres - boy what a sight to see! In between the solar panels are rows and rows of sunflowers... they press the sunflower seeds into oil that can be used in biodiesel. (They end up with about 600 gallons of fuel from the sunflowers.) It's beautiful out there! Someday, Charile... someday.

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