Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Rolling south

We are at the Wal-Mart in Ozark, Alabama (map). We're parked in the back, behind the lube bay, and it was very quiet here last night after the Tire and Lube shop closed, even though this supercenter is a 24-hour store. We didn't see another soul. Walking back from dinner, at Applebees across the street, we saw two other rigs in the front lot "RV ghetto." Safety in numbers.

FedEx did not come yesterday until after noon. By the time we loaded up the garage, drove around to the water spigot, and spent an hour or so flushing out, bleaching, and refilling both water tanks (which were completely empty -- the drinking water ran out last night, and the fresh water ran out while doing the dishes this morning), it was already three in the afternoon. After picking a generally southerly direction, to bring us back towards the gulf coast, we set our sights on the nearest Wal-Mart south of Montgomery, which happened to be in Troy.

On our way there, we checked the directories to find out that, incongruously, the Troy store is one that does not permit overnight parking. So much for our plans to be Trojans for a night. Fortunately, it was only another 45 minutes further on US231 to this store.

We were aiming for the gulf in general, and Apalachicola looked like a good target, mostly due south of here. But Louise is thinking now that she needs to go in to the doctor for a checkup, and I'm thinking that I need to see a dentist, so I am instead aiming for Talahassee, which is pretty much the largest city in the panhandle, and the most likely to have the services we'll need. If a storm doesn't intervene, we might even go all the way to southeast Florida, where I have a dentist I've used before.

We've gotten a lot of feedback on my post yesterday for Blog Action Day, most of it very positive. But at least a couple of comments suggest to me that I was not entirely clear about our stance on the environment and the current debate on global warming. So here it is, for the record:

There is indisputable scientific evidence that the Earth is in a warming period. It is a virtual certainty that this warming trend will have catastrophic effects within my lifetime. And I understand just enough about climate and weather to know that a global warming trend does not mean every place will get warmer -- some will actually get colder.

There is also indisputable scientific evidence (and really, it's just common sense) that human activity has a tremendous impact on the environment, and some kind of impact on the climate, and is very likely a contributing factor to the global warming trend.

How much global warming is attributable to human activity? I don't know -- and neither, IMO, does anyone else. It's just too complex a problem for us to be able to understand with the limited tools available to us. I personally suspect that the human factor accounts for only a small part of the overall trend. But here's the thing: even it it is only a small part, why put off doing whatever we can to mitigate it?

Even if you completely set aside the issue of global warming, it is clear that the planet's resources are not infinite, and the ever-increasing burden we place on those resources will eventually outstrip them, with dire consequences. My personal belief here is that the number one threat facing the planet is unchecked population growth, and, interestingly, the US and most of the highly industrialized nations are no longer a significant contributing factor to this growth. But the fact remains that the most highly industrialized nations, the US first among them, use the greatest amount of planetary resources per-capita. So effecting even, say, a 5% reduction in resource usage in the US will have a greater global impact that a similar reduction in, say, India, whose population is nearly four times as large.

We see ourselves as leading the world. We've seen ourselves as having saved the world. We have an opportunity to lead and save the world again -- let's seize it. If we develop the technology, methodology, and the philosophy of resource conservation, the world will follow.

Mind you, I'm no paragon of conservation. By global standards, we lead a life of privilege and luxury, as does pretty much anyone reading this. And, ironically, even the discourse on environmental issues is confined to persons of such privilege -- those further down in the "hierarchy of needs" generally can't concern themselves with the problems of the rest of the world. But, as I alluded to yesterday, it's not necessary to trade in one's standard of living to have an impact -- even something as simple and easy as exchanging an endless stream of bottled water for a good filter on your tap water can make a difference.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Sean & Louise
    I know you 2 are free thinkers so here's a couple of links to look at, food for thought.





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