Friday, January 19, 2007

An Inconvenient Truth

(Photo Credit: I found this photo on Flickr - - under EcoSnake's account, and taken by Garren.)
On January 22, Algore comes to town. The Algore faithful snapped up the $5 tickets in near-record time. In fact, he was originally scheduled to appear at the BSU Student Union (1200 seats); by popular demand the venue was changed to the 10,000-seat Taco Bell Arena. Al Gore Superstar!

[A side-note: many experts are predicting that Algore will be the dark horse Democratic presidential candidate in 2008, due to weak alternative candidates.]

Why is Algore coming to town? To share his passion about the Inconvenient Truth, and his opinion about Global Warming and how our warm-livin' ways are causing it. (And also probably to reward Mayor Bieter for signing the "U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement." Boise is leading the way – the first city in Idaho to sign on (280th nationwide).

Whatzit mean? So far, Boise is "encouraging the development community to construct environmentally-friendly buildings," and forming a "Steering Committee." Golly! Mission Accomplished!

Meanwhile, the Idaho Statesman on January 18 published an editorial titled, "Changing our behavior will improve air quality." According to the editorial:
- The Legislature created a Treasure Valley Air Quality Council, to deal with the problem, and
- There are things the general public can do, like walk or ride a bike, carpool, and/or only make one motor vehicle trip a day.

Yeah, right. Nudge-nudge, wink-wink. Blah, blah, blah. Business as usual.

Am I overly cynical?

- The Treasure Valley has had numerous "yellow air quality" days this winter. Whatzit mean? No open burning; fireplaces and woodstoves discouraged; try to limit your driving by carpooling, using public transportation, walking or bicycling, etc. (Limit driving? Hahahahaha! That's a good one!)
- I predict the 10,000 Algore devotees will arrive to listen to him in at least 5000 cars, probably more, since it's too cold to ride a bike or walk, and Boise doesn't have bus service in the evenings. (And they are the ones who supposedly care about air quality, global warming, and all that stuff.)

So, what's the Inconvenient Truth?

Here it is – pay attention. The vast majority of citizens, INCLUDING the ones who purport to be environmentally aware and concerned, are willing to do precious little about it. Particularly if it means leaving the car in the garage.

Algore's timing STINKS!

Since the Global Warming Kum-ba-ya-Fest was announced, Denver has had three major snowstorms, resulting in thousands of stranded travelers camping for days at the airport. There's been a cold snap in California that ruined $1 billion worth of citrus and other produce. A killer storm descended on the Midwest, coating everything in ice, knocking out power to hundreds of thousands, and killing dozens. The Pacific Northwest has had shock-and-awe blizzards. Here locally, Intermountain Gas has announced they are setting records, due to a colder-than-normal winter.

(IMPORTANT! I'm not discounting Global Warming. Please don't read that between the lines. I believe there is evidence to indicate our planet is warming. I also believe it has always been either warming or cooling. I'm just saying Algore is a smart guy, and oughtta figure out… it would be better to go on his Global Warming tour in July, instead of January. But – he's probably jetting to beautiful vacation destinations in July…)

The enterprise I work for has facilities scattered across the Fruited Plain. This winter, we've had weather-related closures in Denver, Portland/Vancouver, Seattle, and Dallas.

One of my duties is to notify people across our enterprise, when a closure occurs.

On January 16, I sent out a message to notify people that due to bad snow, our Lake Oswego office was closing for the day.

I added this snippy remark:

In related news, Al Gore will be in Boise on January 22, preaching to a packed house at the Taco Bell Arena, on "Beyond Global Warming - An Inconvenient Truth."

(I'm not discounting the Global Warming theory, but the timing couldn't be worse for a guy who's trying to make that point, huh?)

One of my good friends is "Jerry" [name changed]. Jerry is a proud liberal Democrat. His response to my message:

You should move a little left, and go see "An Inconvenient Truth" it is actually a pretty good film instead of lambasting Mr. Gore.

Which started a brief flurry of email exchange. I believe it illustrates the "Inconvenient Truth" quite nicely.

Steve: I grow weary of people TALKING about the problem, Jerry. (And feeling good about how much they CAAARRRE.) I ride a bicycle for 99% of my local transportation, and have for 22 years. If it were up to me, our thermostats would be 65 in the winter and 80 in the summer. (We don't have an air conditioner; we make do with our swamp cooler.)

I'd rather follow a LEADER than Mr. Gore - somebody who sets the example. (He'll be arriving in Boise via private jet, most likely, and taking a big limo from the airport.)

Oh - by the way, I DO believe that the earth is likely warming. In 8th grade Earth Science, they said it has always been either warming or cooling. But I also believe that most of the causative factors are out of human control. Even if we cut down drastically on CO2 emissions, I'm skeptical that it would make much, if any, difference.

Is global warming a conservative/liberal, right/left issue?

Jerry (showing his liberal colors – blaming the problem on "conservatives"): Wouldn't you say that if everyone rode a bicycle to work instead of these honkin' SUVs, that we could ALL contribute to the lessening of Co2 into the atmosphere? And if BIG business (the right side) wasn't producing these big vehicles the Bourgeoisie (the right side) wouldn't be purchasing them to contribute to the warming effect.

Of course, this is just my opinion, and like my son would say, "Opinions are like ***holes... everyone has got one."

I think that is great that you are doing your share, and I'm sure about what you say about Mr. Gore. My wife and I have said that when we die we'll be able to say that we never owned an SUV. That's why we keep buying Subarus.

I think my point is that people should be more aware of the global issue and help preserve this world for our kids. Because quite honestly, I won't be around to see what really is going to happen.

Steve: My view of the world:
Hummer - 10mpg
Subaru - 25mpg
Prius - 45mpg
bicycle - 113,000mpg (SO FAR)

From MY viewpoint, it looks silly to be finger-pointing at the SUV people from the seat of your Subaru. (And from time to time, I'll see some smug Prius driver, with a bumpersticker declaring he's doing more than everybody else. I call "BS" on that one, too!)

Oh - by the way, I LOVE Subarus! I had a '79 4wd wagon, and it's one of my all-time favorite cars. If I were shopping for a car, a Forester would be near the top of the list. (Is a Forester a SUV, or do you "get a pass" since it's a Subaru?) I've noticed the Birkenstock trekking-pole poser-people seem to really like the Volvos, too.

Jerry: Nope ... Forester is, in my opinion, a SUV!

Steve: So, is it the SHAPE of it that offends you? Because a Forester prolly gets ALMOST as good MPG as the Subaru wagon, and it may be more practical in some ways. (I'm just trying to understand how you'd draw the line between the planet-savers and the planet-destroyers.)

Jerry: When Subaru came out with the Forester, it was their attempt to capture a portion of the SUV market, by offering a miniaturized version of a full size SUV. Therefore I am not in support of that. Even if it gets as good maybe better mileage than a normal Subaru, to me it is still an SUV and I am not supporting it.

Steve: So… is it the shape? I'm making an honest and sincere effort at understanding why a "SUV" is inherently inferior to a "non-SUV," if fuel mileage, economy, parking-space size, etc., are all comparable. To me, an SUV is a boxy-looking station wagon, and most have totally-unnecessary 4wd (that never gets used, or only 2 times a year when it snows). But if you're choosing between a 20mpg SUV or a 20mpg Volvo sedan, why should the SUV be rejected?

Jerry: ... no response ...

So evidently, his level of commitment is to go see "An Inconvenient Truth," and not drive a SUV. Others aren't quite so committed. They'll settle for "raising consciousness" by going to see Algore and putting a tree-hugger bumper sticker on the back all 4 family cars/trucks/SUVs. And that, my friends, is an Inconvenient Truth.

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