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Sometimes I Spit on Nature's Face

I recycle, I don’t litter, I don’t produce a lot of trash, and I don’t actively participate in global thermonuclear war, but these things are easy. Despite these small efforts, I still think I am over my pollution budget.

Although I haven’t driven much since coming to the U, I know my car is my biggest encroachment. Although it is small and fuel efficient, it is still a heavy polluter. The catalytic converter has been removed, so harmful pollutants like carbon monoxide aren’t properly oxidized before leaving my exhaust. My PCV (positive crankcase ventilation) system also has problems that I’ve ignored for too long, adding to the amount of offensive gases coming from my engine. Furthermore, I have some slightly worn intake valve stems and guides that allow small amounts of oil to be burned and expelled into the atmosphere. And of course, I often let the tachometer climb to unreasonable heights before shifting – just for fun, which amplifies all of the aforementioned conditions.

This car is 15 years old, and I’ll probably make it last at least a few more years until I have the means to buy a new one. Along the way, I doubt I will do very much to make it more eco-friendly. I’ll drive it whenever I feel like it, and sometimes I won’t even have any particular place that I need to go. Even in the future when 70% of our cars are powered by hydrogen fuel cells or something, I know it will be very difficult for me to depart from good ol’ internal combustion gasoline engines. I am guilty of being a friend of nature only as long as it doesn’t inconvenience me (or perturb my passions in this case). I am kind of like a non-voter who can’t imagine making a difference, especially when there are power plants out there that dwarf my wildest, smoggiest dreams by factors of a billion.

I know this is a group effort, and I’m an equally important member, but I honestly can’t see myself making a major lifestyle change. I do plenty of the small easy stuff, but when it comes to a significant sacrifice of comfort, I am just not inspired enough. I want to be. I try to convince myself to be. But I am not so motivated. I admit it. I think most people share this feeling, but they haven’t admitted it. That’s why progress is so slow, even though every hypocrite wants a healthy planet.

Check this out: Our pal Al Gore being a little bit of a hypocrite


First of all, I had to laugh when I read the short article of Al Gore driving a gas-guzzling SUV. That just goes to show that even the most motivated environmentalists still don't want to completely give up the luxuries that can harm the environment. I think you're really right though to say that if it's not convenient, people most likely won't make a drastic lifestyle change. For example, I'm sure that when it comes to simple decisions such as whether or not I should use an air conditioner, I'll probably choose to buy one! We're all so used to these everyday "necessities" that I think it is going to take something drastic to really wake us up to realize that we need to ACTUALLY make a change, NOW! *sigh*

I understand where you are coming from because I too drive my car just for fun and to places that are in walking distance. In Minnesota I do not have my car so it forces me to walk and use the mass transit system. I think it is great that some people do have the motivation to make a life change and start walking, but at times, it really is inconvenient. I do try to recycle, try not to litter and and use reusuable bags when grocery shopping, but when it comes to major activities, such as driving, I'm not as enthusiastic about changing. Even though society today is all about convenience, little changes do make a difference.

I agree with you Dan, the majority of people sometimes do "spit on nature's face." Many people don't even realize that the decisions they make affect the environment. In my opinion, its just really hard for people to take a step back from the convenient, busy lives to actually do somethings to change their harmful actions. I mean who really wants to change their lives to a way that takes more time and effort that they simply don't have in this busy lifestyle. It truly is a pity, I really hope that people begin to realize the impact of their individual actions on nature and decide to change. We as the dominant species on Earth need to face the facts and alter the path in which we are taking the world. Do it for the children! Lets give future generations something to appreciate!!

I think you presented an honest and realistic argument. I think your viewpoint and activities are similar to many people, although I'm not so sure about the earth-hating car. I don't think many people are open changing their driving schedule to help the environment. Driving cars is simply a part of the American lifestyle. I think you also made a good point where you said you wish you were more motivated and every hypocrite wants a healthy planet. Of course everyone wants a healthy planet, but people need the personalized motivation to act. It's also hard when few people around us are taking bigger steps to save the environment; many people are living in their own little world.

I think a lot of people feel the same was as you. They want to make a difference but they feel like their contribution will be nothing when it comes down to the big picture. I think an interesting thing to do would be to look at the other side of things. Instead of trying to constantly reduce the amount of CO2 we put out how about try and increase the amount that nature abosorbes for example planting trees.

I think convenience is the most important aspect to this issue. However, you rise another point that, while being more basic, is maybe even more important. The fact that people either don't know(or realize) that they are polluting, or don't care is the first issue that needs to be corrected. When I stop and think about my day, I realize many instances when I was polluting without even realizing it at the time! I think we all just need to be more mindful and make any little changes that we can. When we are dealing with something like this, any positive change is good.

I can understand where you're coming from, definitely, from the littering to the thermonuclear war. And the driving, i love to drive, it's what i do when i'm bored. Rather, what i did when i was bored and a car was handy. In the last paragraph i think you say it well, everybodie's probably the same. We want what's best for the environment but we're not really willing to sacrifice much when it comes down to it. Sad but true thus far.

It was actually pretty refreshing to hear someone admit that they are a polluter. Many people want to assume that they only do good to the environment, when in actuality, we all hurt the environment at some point somehow. I also appreciated your honesty in that you want to do more environmentally, but you just don't see yourself doing it.

after reading your post and the comments, i am suprised at how many people know they are 'polluters' and still don't really care enough to do anything about it. y'all talk about convenience, but what is conveneient about being stuck in traffic and trying to find a parking spot? i ride my bike everywhere and it is pretty convenient for me because i can get (practially) anywhere w/in the twin cities, w/o worring about traffic or parking. sure, i'm not perfect, but this is one feasible choice that i have conciously made to reduce my impact on the environment. it's not as hard as everyone thinks!

I think it will just take time for our society to realize that we need to take care of the earth as a collaborative effort. Every individual effort does count for something, even if it doesn't have a huge impact. I think much of it has to do with our mentality. The world is so big that nobody really owns it which implies that it's not our responsibility to take care of it. Changes happen small steps at a time, but it seems like time is starting to run out.

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