09 March 2014

I blame you for the snowstorms

This winter has been harsh and merciless, with record-breaking snowstorms, floods, droughts, and other weather disasters all across the U.S. And I believe the climate scientists who say that these extreme weather conditions are an expected consequence of global climate change.

Accordingly, I blame you - yes, you, dear reader - for all the snow I've had to shovel, because of all the carbon you've pumped into the atmosphere through your own actions.

Indeed, the United States consistently ranks in last place year after year in National Geographic's Greendex survey, which measures the environmental impact of consumer habits and lifestyles in more than a dozen countries.

People in India, China, Brazil, Hungary, South Korea, Mexico, Argentina, Russia, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Great Britain, Australia, France, Japan, and Canada were judged to be more environmentally responsible than Americans. Yes, you read that right. India. China. South Korea. Mexico. Et cetera. All more proactively concerned than we Americans are about saving this planet for our children and our grandchildren.

But this should come as no surprise. Whether we can blame it on ignorance, apathy, arrogance, or just laziness depends on the person, but I see it every day. You, my fellow Americans, talk about global warming, and sometimes you sound genuinely concerned. But that's as far as it goes. Talk is cheap. And so you continue to be part of the problem.

For example:

You, my fellow Americans, grumble about high gasoline prices even as you continue to drive your big, gas-guzzling SUVs.

You, my fellow Americans, see yourselves as heroes for recycling case after case of empty Aquafina bottles each week, despite the fact that the production and transportation of your bottled water more than cancels the environmental benefit of your recycling. And despite the fact that many brands of bottled water actually come from the same sources as public tap water - and are less regulated. So you're wasting your money as you waste the environment.

You, my fellow Americans, congratulate yourselves for turning down the thermostat when the weather gets chilly, but then you use a wood-burning fireplace to compensate, despite the fact that fireplaces contribute to pollution - and human respiratory problems.

And you, my fellow Americans, eat lots of meat. You love your steaks, chops, and burgers, despite the fact that eating less meat is even better for the environment than driving a hybrid car. Scientists at the University of Chicago have discovered that a typical American meat eater is responsible for nearly 1.5 tons more greenhouse gases per year than a vegan, due to the environmental impacts of animal agriculture.

So here we are. In last place. Below India. Below China. Below Mexico.

Because of you, my fellow Americans, and your spoiled American way of life.

And yes, I blame myself as well. After all, I drive a gasoline-powered car. And, while I've been a vegetarian for more than a decade, I am not a vegan. I recognize the effects that my consumption of dairy and eggs have on the planet.

And I'm sorry.

Please be sorry too.

And let's all work harder to save this planet before it's too late.

Let's get serious and do everything we can to personally reduce our carbon footprints.

And let's do everything we can to put the polluters out of business and shift our society towards clean, renewable energy sources.

Let's move America out from the bottom of that list.

Or else shoveling lots of snow will soon be the least of our problems.

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