If We Really Cared

Do we really care about global climate change? Do we really think immediate action is necessary to preserve the planet’s long-term ability to sustain life as we know it? Do we think that planetary ecosystem is being jeopardized by human activity?

Do we really?

If there were as many people having those viewpoints, as those who claim to have them…this is what life would be like.

1. From San Diego, CA to Bangor, ME, and every inch in between, all federal, state, county and municipal buildings have solar panels on the rooftops. They are all required to have them. Why not? It’s a one-time disbursement, with a negligible load of maintenance, a drop in the bucket compared to the year-to-year money all those agencies spend on other things.

2. There is a truly massive effort underway to relocate all residential, commercial and government facilities, several miles away from the water’s edge. That includes most of Manhattan, including Wall Street. Government agents are walking door-to-door to contact tens of thousands of coastline residents who have no telephone or Internet service.

3. Nobody is bellyaching about the cost of gas. Those of us who rely on it, after all, are only using it for the handful of years that remain before we trade Ol’ Bessie in an electric model. In that enterprise, cost is irrelevant. Bellyaching is instead confined to the subject of what the electric models cost, and the scarcity of charging stations and other facilities.

4. Of course, the Senate has sat down to vote on the Kyoto Protocols, and this time passed them overwhelmingly. The Protocols themselves have been re-written so that no countries are exempt. The official United Nations response to any “developing” country seeking exemption, is “Are you out of your freakin’ gourd?”

5. A construction crew cooking up a batch of tar to fix a leaky roof, is about as common a sight as a Victorian-era chimney sweeper.

6. Residents of states do not ask residents of other states, “what are the smog check and automotive emissions requirements where you live?” This question is now pointless, as the Federal Government has declared a national emergency and seized control of the emissions standards in all states. Nobody passes, or very few do. Repair cost caps, grace periods, temporary permits, these are all things of the past. It’s smog, after all. Smog causes global warming.

7. We have new programs to encourage telecommuting, the likes of which have not been seen before. Incentives for employers, regulatory oversight, seminars, the works! In fact, you have to explain to your boss why you don’t want to telecommute now, and he has to explain to the government why you can’t. None of these conversations are any fun.

8. Shopping mall parking lots…are empty. Except for the overcrowded bicycle racks. The mall management keeps promising everybody more bicycle racks are on the way, but it never seems to be enough. Gas stations are being torn out. Retail shops dealing in bicycle gear and equipment, go in their place. The IRS would like to know what you spent at those shops, so they can give you credit.

9. Soccer, for kids, is history. Soccer matches tend to involve lots of families trudging around in enormous cars, and we can’t have that you know. Kids play in the yard, like kids did back in my day. If this presents a danger of kidnapping or child abuse or injury or some other shenanigans, then the parents just spend more time watching the kids, and make the time to do so.

10. Television sets use power, so we stop watching them. On Monday morning at the water cooler, people brag to each other about the television shows they missed instead of the ones they managed to watch. The few people who buy new television sets, brag about how small the new unit is. Reading books and newspapers is very popular among men, and crochet is popular among ladies. Teachers make more money than professional football players. Nobody remembers the last time they saw a commercial. Every household has a remote with a dead battery, if the remote can be found at all, and nobody cares.

11. There is a massive network of electric rail systems to transport goods across the country, as the classic eighteen-wheeler did before. Highway funding is still used to coerce states into abdicating their sovereign rights to make laws as they see fit, and do things Uncle Sam’s way instead. But it isn’t called “highway funding,” it’s called “transport funding.” The states can spend it on expanding the federal network of electric rail, and thereby qualify for an extra 10% incentive subsidy. Which, of course, they all eagerly do.

12. That you drive something that gets less than 30 miles a gallon, earns you more social stigma than a swastika or “KKK” or “McCarthy Was Right” bumper sticker ever would. What we call a “car” doesn’t look anything like a Toyota Prius. It looks more like cars as they were made in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Like light-switches moving down the highway. If you can bench press a decent amount, you can probably left the front end of one chest-high. Banks that have drive-through windows — and there aren’t many of those — hire construction crews to move the windows closer to the ground to accommodate the shrinking cars.

13. What we now call “roads,” are eventually called “legacy asphalt” or something like that. They’re falling into disrepair. Nobody is complaining. It would be nice to have more manpower pulling the big slabs of asphalt off the ground so the hitherto-endangered species would have a little surplus space to live and breed. But whatever labor we lack the public funds to hire, we just pull out of the prisons anyway. The prisoners are happy to help out, now that they aren’t allowed to watch television anymore.

14. Speaking of jail, illegal immigration is punished by jail time — period. If they have to live here illegally, might as well do it in jail where they’ll consume less power. Did I mention there’s no television in there?

15. You know those signs some hotels have about laundry? How they want to conserve hot water so if you want a towel washed, leave it on the floor because the maid isn’t going to touch the other ones? Well, now they do the same thing with air conditioning. In fact, they don’t have it. Even the nice ones. To travel, means to sweat your ass off, and it doesn’t matter who you are or what you’re used to. Everybody swims when they go to hotels. The hotels have all put in larger pools and hired more staff to keep things clean and tidy. You can buy some trunks in the lobby if you are one of the exceptionally rare travelers who didn’t pack any. This hardly ever happens. Packing trunks is like packing toothpaste, it’s one of the first things to go in the suitcase.

16. It doesn’t change when your trip is over. Nobody runs the air conditioner. EVER. What would be the point? It just makes the whole earth hotter to make this one room cooler. Lives are at stake here. Off it goes. Off, and out. If you have a health condition and can’t be in a stuffy room for too long, your doctor will recommend a water-cooled collar you can wear around your neck.

17. Methane is a greenhouse gas generally accepted to be twenty-five times as potent, pound-for-pound, as carbon dioxide. The earth’s 1.4 billion cows each give off hundreds of pounds of methane over their lifetimes. Special permits required for breeding cows. They give off massive amounts of methane, and nobody’s categorized them as endangered just yet. Beef goes for twenty or thirty dollars a pound for low-grade chuck. Maybe forty or fifty, Nobody really cares. Microwave-cooked beef just gives you a case of the trots, anyway. Lobster-and-shrimp tacos are all the rage now. Soy milk. Veggie burgers. Goat cheese.

18. No private jets. I don’t care who you are. You can’t get hold of one anyway, they’ve all been scrapped.

19. There is a foundation that delivers groceries, for free, to people who are healthy enough to live independently but who would normally have to drive to a grocery store. It may be a consortium of non-profits and public agencies. It relies on young people, maybe Boy Scouts — by the way, it is so yesterday and out-of-fashion to pick on the Boy Scouts — and their bicycles. This foundation has to have managers, because someone has to have the headache of making sure there are enough delivery people for the clients from day to day. And this task is used to nurture skills in tomorrow’s leaders, who will have to have the creativity and resourcefulness to take point in continuing the battle against global warming. This is a coveted resume-bullet to have.

20. Rickshaws. Why the hell not?

21. Airshows: BANNED. Forever. Along with monster truck shows. Of course.

22. A very large business office, like corporate headquarters for example, might have “hotels” of some kind built right in for people with exceptionally long commutes. You live ninety miles away, instead of driving home every night just stay downstairs on Mondays and Thursdays. It’s a corporate benefit, since you’re doing it for the office. Free lodging. Efficiency on the job. No rat race. Wife genuinely appreciates seeing you again. Everybody wins.

23. Bike trails with four lanes. Oh, and we’ve done away with that confusion about what side of the trail you should be on when you’re jogging or passing someone. Yeah, I’ll bet most of you blue-state “Inconvenient Truth” fans have no idea what I’m talking about there. One other thing about bike trails: They are named for the two cities they are built to connect. Folsom-Sac. Sacramento-Davis. Davis-Winters. Winters-Colfax. Name any two cities you care to name, and there’s a trail. A four-lane, straight-as-physically-possible, bike trail. There are weatherproof, solar-powered vending machines that dispense cold water and Gatorade every few miles, along with moist towelettes, personal hygiene items, tube repair kits, and emergency communication services.

24. Speaking of bicycles, there is a special network for navigational computers. Turn right at this bike trail, left at that bike trail. That’s a completely separate database…and someone’s built it and is using it. Oh, and if you want to buy a bicycle without one of those computers, it is really, really hard to find one. They all have it, except maybe for the ones that come with training wheels.

See, if we really thought this was a problem and if we really cared, that’s what we’d do. And for the record, there’s a whole lot of those things of which I’d personally approve…at least, the ones that don’t involve spending public money, or actually making it harder to drive a car.

Life isn’t like this. We don’t really believe in the situation as it’s been popularly illustrated, and we just don’t care. On the caring, I kind of wish we did. But as near as I can tell, it’s our tree-hugging environmentalists driving the biggest cars. Environmentalism is “hip” right now, and our most fashionable cars are the biggest ones. So our fashion-conscious folks make lots of noise about doomsday-scenario entertainment movies, call them “documentaries,” and drive to soccer matches in Ford Explorers.

Go figure.

To comment on this page, you must e-mail me (use the envelope icon in the sidebar). This is a WordPress page, built to be permanent and easily-linked, and it doesn’t allow comments.

This is a reproduction, with some minor additions and changes, from a post that appeared last summer.