I’d like to share two experiences from last week that made me realize that many Americans are too stupid and too selfish to care about destroying our planet from global warming.
The first event took place at a supermarket parking lot. It was a hot day, mid-90s. My partner and I pulled into a parking space next to a mammoth, gas-guzzling SUV that had the engine running. While my partner, Herman, went into the store to pickup the week’s groceries, I stayed in the car with the windows down, reading a novel. I was surprised that after a few minutes, the SUV didn’t shut off the engine while its occupants went into the store to shop. Paying closer attention, I realized that the driver and two kids in the back seat had no intention of leaving their vehicle. Like me, they were waiting while someone else was in the supermarket shopping. But unlike me, they had the windows rolled up and the engine running to keep the air-conditioner operating. It took forty-five minutes for Herman to return, and the SUV sat there the entire time burning gas to keep its occupants cool. I was flabbergasted that anyone in this day and age, with all the concerns of global warming, refused to be even slightly unconvinced to save a few gallons of gas from polluting our air. I mean, if staying cool was paramount, all they had to do was go inside the store. And this took place in San Rafael, California, a place known for progressive thinking.
The second event occurred when I ran into an acquaintance at a gay tennis tournament in San Francisco. This person had recently accepted a job in Southern California, about three hundred miles away. I told him I was surprised to see him, as I thought he had already moved to be closer to his workplace. He informed me that even though his job was in So-Cal, he still lived in San Francisco. He spent four days each week working near L.A. and three days a week in S.F., and he commuted by plane. He proudly told me that he had pre-purchased six months worth of plane tickets in advance at only $50.00 per flight.
When I reminded him that it was foolish acts like that which are destroying the planet, he argued that the planes would fly regardless of whether the seats were filled or not, so it made no difference. Of course I begged to differ, stating that if people stopped flying for frivolous reasons, the companies would reduce the number of planes in the air rather than go broke. It was simply another example of people refusing to be unconvinced at any cost.
So the question I’ve been grappling with all week is: what will it take? What will make people put the earth’s welfare before their own greedy interests?
Sad to say, I’m becoming convinced that most people will need to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into conserving the planet’s resources. Perhaps when gas is $10 or $20 or $50 dollars a gallon, or a plane ride to L.A. costs $2,000 dollars, then they will find ways to conserve. But I fear by then it will be decidedly too late.
Several years ago a popular movie touted: Greed is Good! But like anything, too much of a good thing is disastrous.