Sunday, April 23, 2006

Crunchy Cons

Happy Earth Day! I almost let it slip me by. Son John was visiting this weekend and yesterday we stopped at Starbucks and found that the coffee was free. Happy Earth Day, here’s your joe! Not having been around at the beginning, John asked me: “Were the environmentalists back then whackos like many are now? Did they do anything good?” Ah, out of the mouths….

Having recently read The Progress Paradox (by Gregg Easterbrook) I had some of the statistics ready to hand. The enviro movement was an immense success if you just look at the data. Since the 1970s, smog has declined by one third despite double the number of cars, acid rain decreased by two thirds, airborne lead is down 97 percent, CFC emissions have stopped and the bald eagle, grey whale, brown pelican and peregrine falcon have been removed from the endangered list. Every environmental indicator in America is positive, ... except for greenhouse gas emissions.

So, what is the new crisis? It’s global warming, of course, caused by those same greenhouse gasses, produced by us. It’s true, I looked it up. Right there in Wikipedia I found that just by breathing average humans produce 700 pounds of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) per year, that the plants love but the environmentalists don’t. I know that this is very, very small compared to the 6,000,000,000,000,000 pounds in the atmosphere, but there are a lot of us humans. Perhaps if we all agree to breathe 10 percent less that would help.

But it is the dreaded automobile that is the real culprit. I went on the Earth Day website
where I learned that my Porsche produces 4500 pounds of CO2 per year at my typical 5000 miles per (I hardly ever leave the Hill). Lee’s Jag produces 4550 pounds from her 5000 miles. But each of us can be forgiven our sins simply by purchasing a TerraPass, a decal that you place on your car showing that you have sponsored a clean energy project that balances out the environmental impact of your driving.

TerraPass funds clean energy from sources like wind farms, methane capture facilities, and more. By replacing energy from fossil fuels with clean energy, TerraPass reduces carbon dioxide emissions, thereby balancing the emissions from your car. It’s like paying for an indulgence, where the environmental organization has replaced the Catholic Church. For only $29.95, I can purchase a Hybrid TerraPass that abolishes 6000 pounds of CO2 emission. Whew, I feel better already.

Wait just a minute! I think I’ve already paid at the office, so to speak. When I was working and driving my 4Runner 12,000 miles per year I was producing 12,000 pounds of CO2. By retiring and switching to a Porsche I’m generating 8,000 pounds less of CO2. Perhaps TerraPass owes me $29.95.

Anyway, I’m happy to do my part for the Earth. Back at the Earth Day site I took the Earth Day Quiz: How Green Can You Get?

I turn off the water while I brush my teeth.
I carpool more than once a week.
I drive a hybrid, electric, or other alternative fuel vehicle.
I compost food waste from my kitchen and garden.
I use solar power or buy "green" electricity.
I recycle toxic items that require special handling such as paint, household cleansers, and batteries. CHECK
When I leave a room, I remember to turn off the lights. CHECK
I've weatherproofed my home, eliminating drafts from windows and doors. CHECK
The dishwasher in my house is used only when fully loaded. CHECK
For local errands, I walk or bike.
I keep my car's tires inflated to improve fuel efficiency. CHECK
I eat as much local produce as I can. CHECK
At work, I turn off my computer screen when I'm away from my desk. CHECK
My home has mostly compact fluorescent lightbulbs.
I donate money or time to environmental organizations. (I used to.)

Unfortunately, I’m not as good as I might be. Thus my mission is to borrow and read the new book Crunchy Cons: How Birkenstocked Burkeans, gun-loving organic gardeners, evangelical free-range farmers, hip homeschooling mamas, right-wing nature lovers, and their diverse tribe of countercultural conservatives plan to save America (or at least the Republican Party) by former National Review writer Rod Dreher.

From an review: Crunchy Cons is an attempt to discover a more authentic conservativism. Dreher argues that conservatives must embrace rural values and traditions opposing the dominant consumerist culture. He recognizes the need for a universal system of ethics, based in his Roman Catholic religious beliefs.

It might be for me.


Blogger fetching jen said...

my dirty little secret? I am a Crunchy Con. I buy and eat organic, recycle, water ration, grow herbs and veggies... but live in an old and large, drafty house, have a stable of muscle and specialty cars and willingly pay for the gas to run them.

I need the TerraPass to appease the guilt.

11:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A stable of muscle and specialty cars? Why do you need a "stable" of cars? For you, paying "willingly" for gas is fine, since you have enough money for the stable. It's more difficult for those less fortunate who maybe only have 1 car and are barely making ends meet. Interesting word, stable. Reminds me of baby born 2000 years ago in a stable....

1:09 PM  
Blogger fetching jen said...

I knew that would get a rise out of an anonymous commentor. Ever heard of tonge in cheek?

2:34 PM  
Blogger Bill Lama said...

I'd love a muscle car. Do you really have one? or more? My little secret: I don't need the TerraPass - I am guilt free.

What difference does it make to you whether Jen has one car or ten? Do you think if she has ten you can only have one? Or do you think we all need to feel sad that some have only one?

3:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So Jen, if you really don't have a stable of cars, I'll accept the tongue in cheek. I still think it's bad tongue-in-cheek, especially since Bill apparently isn't sure if you're serious or not. . And no, Bill I think it's perfectly fine for people to have all the cars they want. We should feel sad for those who can't afford gas! Bill, I thought you touted yourself as a Christian, no? St.John Fisher and all? So much for compassionate conservatism.

4:32 PM  
Blogger fetching jen said...

Bill, email me at for details. It's a small but interesting "stable." And anon, what do you care about my cars if I am responsible and pay for them? Being green is also about personal responsibility... there aren't any old Volkswagon buses in my stable.

5:21 PM  
Blogger fetching jen said...

and Anon, I am not fortunate - My husband and I work very hard. There's no luck or good fortune in the equation, trust me.

5:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So you do have a stable of cars? Taking back the tongue in cheek? Sorry Jen, you may work hard, but luck and good fortune play a role in someone's ability to acquire a stable of cars. A lot of rich people like to think they control everything about their success. Stop kidding yourself that you worked for everything.

10:11 PM  
Blogger Capt. Jack Sparrow said...

Anyway, Bill, thanks for posting about your TerraPass. I bought one, too, and will post about it once I get the stickers.

9:09 AM  
Blogger fetching jen said...

Anonymous must not be enjoying any success... or even life by the sound of things.

3:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quite the contrary, Felching Jen. I'm a quite successful physician who had the honor of treating soldiers in Iraq. And what do you do that's so important?

9:29 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home