Sunday, April 08, 2007

The Gentleman on The Left Needs to Update His Invective

Miklas (also known as mikeswanson) has called me out again -- see here -- for a pair of alleged sins, neither of which I feel warrant the sort of House of Commons abuse he is fond of hurling like so many cow pies. To whit: I did not respond to his latest comment about Ralph Nader, about whom, in my experience, it is absolutely pointless to converse. The subject draws an instant and uncrossable line between the conversants. I am willing to stipulate that on the level of speaking extemporaneously about issues rather than doing anything concrete, Ralph Nader is my favorite candidate. But this will require Miklas to stipulate that Ralph Nader fudged his way through the last seven years pretending that getting Bush elected was either a) a good thing because it made people realize how horrible the country had become, a horrendous and tautological position; or b) no big deal because electing Gore would have been no better. I could flood this blog with references to make my point, but the whole idea is that I don't want to and the "debate" isn't worth having.

The other issue he brings up is that I should not be willing to travel by airplane to South America, or anywhere, given the link I posted about the ecological horrors of air travel. Leaving aside that my erstwhile Motorcycle Diaries would likely be written via train anyway, I take his point that airplanes contribute to global warming. (At work, one of the energy reporters told me jet fuel is the waste product that no other industrial sector will take, not even the power companies, and they'll pretty much run on soiled wood chips and broken furniture.) Does that mean I'm going to swear off air travel? No. Should the government mandate better fuel standards? Yes. How many airplane trips do I take in a year? Maybe two. Will everyone sitting at home for the rest of their lives stop global warming? No. Does traveling have benefits other than frivolous passing of time? I'd argue yes, but I can't really prove that objectively. It does make you smarter about other cultures, and teaches you things you can't learn any other way. Anyway, think about it like this: you contribute to a lot of social ills every day without even realizing it. The best you can do is buy organic, pick up other peoples' trash, ride your bike everywhere (buses contribute to air pollution; so does light rail that runs on electricity), never eat food or drink coffee or tea that isn't farmed locally (otherwise it was shipped in, tsk tsk), don't read books printed on paper pulp, never use any lights in your house, etc. etc. etc. It goes on and on and on trying to do the right thing and be consumer conscious. On balance, I'd say I already waste less and contribute more environmentally than most people in my age and income brackets. I own almost nothing -- certainly not a car -- and do in fact pick up other peoples' trash. Ask around. So if taking a trip once every five years to see the world still makes me the bad guy, I'm going to bite a bullet and do it. We can't stop global warming singlehandedly. We can feel better about our choices for one reason or another. Other than that, it comes down to politics and commerce. Now what is Miklas doing on those fronts?


Anonymous Miklas said...

Rapid-fire justification

I read an article in The Independent that suggested a warning on plane tickets that says "Flying Causes Climate Change." It's going to be a whole lot easier on everybody in the world if we young Americans stop binging ourselves on carbon-heavy excursions. I'm shocked how many people I know who are 20-25 who have travelled all over the world. I just met a German my age (25 or so) who said he was in Korea a month ago, and it seems to be a common rite of passage for a lot of young Americans to kick around Europe on little more than a whim. I can kick around in America without expelling Co2 into the high atmosphere, its just less exotic. I think that as young people we should be living more sustainably rather than travelling all over the freaking globe for "study" or whatever the hell we feel like at the expense of our atmosphere. I mean, how many other early 20 year olds in the world can globetrot? I'm willing to bet it's 1% or less. Cheap airplane travel is a perq given to us by the empire, I think we should resist indulging in it. Remember when Bush told us to not stop travelling and using airplanes after 9/11? Well, that makes me want to do the opposite. Gandhi said "We have to be the change we want to see" and I for one would like to see less air travel because of the environmental impact. :P

6:40 AM  

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