Response to my Right-winged Friend’s Email on Gore’s Energy Use. Also, Presenting "Ecophasing", the "lazy environmentalist" Hobby.

One of my extraordinarily intelligent, yet inexplicably right winged friends, Beetel wrote:
“You guys need to get a new spokesman. This one’s so full of shite you can smell it on his breath. Just gonna hurt the cause in the long run.” then goes on to quote the information on Gore’s personal energy use following An Inconvenient Truth’s oscar. (also via hugg)

My reply:
Shame on you.
A. Stop trying to downplay the importance of the global warming message by attempting to discredit the spokesperson (a childish yet common political tactic sadly used by both republicans and democrats).
2. It’s true that Gore should significantly decrease his energy use. However, although he is not “walking the walk”, as skeptics say, with his everyday consumption, he is utilizing a great deal of this energy to “fight the fight” as we idealists say.
III. Make sure you look at the opposing side’s retort prior to sending around fire-fueling propaganda – check this article and newcast out. There’s another interesting article here.

I’ll say “I told you so” in 30 or so post-apocalyptic years when you’ll be piecing together blackmarket robot parts in an underground nanotechnology lab to arm a cyborg revolution and I’ll be heading up the U.N. council on Biological Threats or some other such disaster management problem that will have surfaced by then.

I apologise, by the way, if I’m overtired and rambling, but I’m 1/2 asleep after an overnight shift.

Here’s my extended but not complete take on the matter:
We really do have to stop the global energy crisis and it has to be a bipartisan and cooperative event. This is not just global warming, but also an issue that encompasses our resource use and our fossil fuel use and it’s political ramifications; not to mention the global instability caused by American Imperialism in our search for more oil.
How do we start a solution?
As individual Americans.
One simple way to start a change is to realize that the choices that we make in our daily consumption lie at the heart of the problem. If a corporation’s mass produced, resource-hungry, preserved, chemical-laden “food products”don’t sell because no educated consumer in their right mind would eat them, then they won’t make them anymore. If people refuse to wear sweat-shop produced, fertilizer-laced cotton shirts, then eventually they won’t be produced either. If people choose to buy fair-trade, organic coffee, the poor village in Africa or South America can get paid for what their work is worth and their village will eventually get better sanitation, better healthcare, and better living standards.
I think that although personal consumption is “personal”, and people should be free to live their lives as they choose, the true costs of goods, services, and resources need to be paid by the consumer. This means that cost will go up, availability will be limited, and resources will be expensive (as they should be). This means that yes, some people will lose their jobs, but at the same time many jobs will be made and new industry will form to improve renewable energy technology and manage our resources. Energy will eventually be just as, if not more plentiful than it is in the current oil-based energy economy, it will be more available to developing countries, and it will cause less harm and pollution to the earth.
All of this prosperity comes at a price, however. This means that many multinational corporations would have to lose power and lose wealth, losing a few jobs and making a miniscule percentage of our population slightly less wealthy. Wow, what a terrible sacrifice. For this to happen, local communities need to flourish again and cooperate to manage their allocated resources wisely. For this to happen, the individual person needs to start with simple choices in conservation and try to improve from there as they are able.

I can get downright evangelical can’t I? Maybe that will be one of my future campaign speeches.

On a personal “green” note, my Vanagon is in Sacramento getting a Biodiesel/Vegetable oil conversion! So aside from the brush with death from an enraged Hummer driver (discussed in my blog), we’ll be off liquid petrol within the next 2 months.
So far, by putting solar on our house last year, we have cut our home power use by 70% and are saving ourselves $1680/year in electricity costs. The biodiesel I’m making is costing me $1.40/gallon to make and after I make 4 more batches (3 months or so), the money I spent on my system will have paid for itself then it’s all savings from there! Then we need to work on our natural gas furnace and hot water heater. That will take a few years I think, but the current thought is a waste oil furnace/hot water heater combo – I’m hoping to combine our waste oil collection, biodiesel production and home heating all into one source and one process in the corner of the garage. I also have a rainwater and greywater cachement system in mind, but that’s further off.
Once we’re done, it will take me 10 hours of labor and less than $200 a month to provide CO2 neutral fuel for our family including transportation, heat, hot water, and electricity (as opposed to more than $350/month with traditional energy sources). This “greening” of my lifestyle, or “ecophasing” as I’ll call it, has actually been fun and become sort of a hobby. Rather than playing video games or stare at a television all day, everyone can try to stay up to date on politics, technology, and environmental news, trying to figure out how to spend the least amount of money and make our living as green as possible while maintaining a modern and convenient lifestyle. I think I’ll start an “ecophazing” movement, or is that too “Sally” of a name? Whatever it can be called, It’s a good and legitimate way to get people to decrease their footprint and conserve resources.
My latest project, besides the biodiesel vanagon, is a kick-ass commuter bike with cargo capacity and style. I’ll be able to bike to the grocery store and if I’m feeling particularly frisky, could take my surfboard the 20 miles to the beach and 20 miles back (that would be fairly bad-ass (or is it “bad-assed”) and I think that I’ll have to build up to that. Using this frame (not in red), and mostly recycled parts, it will have an xtracycle attachment for carrying capacity (groceries, surfboard, etc), LED lighting, and a chalkboard paint surface for environmentally-friendly hippie propaganda, peace signs and other sweet drawings. It’s going to be funky-fly-fresh. For extra eco-dork street cred, I’m considering a POV (persistence of vision) wheel kit, sporting an uber-geek bling-bling recycle symbol. You have to check the POV wheel out, even though I do recognize that it is using unnecessary resources and power, it absolutely is the coolest thing you can do to your bike for less than $50. I also might eventually wuss out and get one of these electric conversions, but for now I’ll opt for the extra sweat.
Hope it’s not too cold in the midwest. It’s been raining here but fairly comfortable in the 60’s and sunny today.
Not to rub it in or anything.
Later –

update: A reponse by my friend has proposed “enviro-ninja”, or “econinja” as a more stylish and tougher name for the environmental hobbyist. This, of course, referring to the the ninja’s legendary ability to “leave no trace” and blend in to the environment without being seen.
Plus, the costumes are fun.

One Response to “Response to my Right-winged Friend’s Email on Gore’s Energy Use. Also, Presenting "Ecophasing", the "lazy environmentalist" Hobby.”

  1. Can’t say I’ve ever seen Gore as a spokesperson to the ‘green’ movement, if indeed one exists as such! The important thing about the welling up of green political action and knowledge is that it comes from the voters. Funnily enough that’s why politicians have finally begun to take note and even action! 🙂

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