Talk While You Walk

Thursday, July 25, 2013
11:32 P.M.

I’ve been thinking lately. About a lot of things… family, fishing, friendships, and, if you can believe it, weather patterns. But there’s something more that I’ve been thinking about, and that is anthropogenic global warming. I’ve touched on this subject quite a few times in this blog, and I’ve primarily done it from a science or morality perspective.

But I haven’t had a serious discussion with myself about how I’m contributing to the problem, and honestly, I think it is because I have subconsciously discarded the effects of my daily activities and how they commit to global warming/ocean acidification. Sure, I don’t drive and I’m a pescetarian. I take “sailor showers.” I use florescent light-bulbs. For clothes, I shop exclusively at thrift stores (some stores sell new socks/underwear, and I buy those). I even make a conscious effort to breathe less. Now that’s dedication.

But I do so many things to contribute to the problem. I use public transit (this is better than driving, but by creating a demand for a bus you are contributing to the economic validity of a bus route and therefore the decision for Seattle Metro whether or not to put a bus on that route). I’ll get rides from my mom to certain locations. Most recently, my mom flew to Micronesia and back to pick me up for my “medical evacuation” (I was fine… it’s a long story). And let’s not forget about my audiophile speaker system in my room. It sounds fantastic, but with ~80 pounds of amplification to power the speakers and subwoofer, even moderate volumes can cause the lights in my room to dim, and the lights throughout the house will flicker completely on and off if I turn it way up, particularly if there is a lot of bass.

And in a couple days, I will be with my father trailering a 22 foot boat from Whidbey Island to go to Nootka Sound, BC, where we will go fishing for a week. Trailering a boat to the central coast of Vancouver Island takes a ridiculous amount of petroleum, and getting three miles per gallon while at cruising speed on a boat similar to ours is extraordinary. The amount of energy spent on this coming trip will be immense. But at the same time, my father and I will have the trip of a lifetime, and we don’t want to let carbon emissions come in the way of our vacation. Besides, with so much carbon dioxide being emitted by other anthropogenic activities, our energy consumption and contribution to increased CO2 emissions is negligible.

Our train of thought is a perfect example of the tragedy of the commons. I learned about this in my Honors Fisheries 101 class; the tragedy of the commons is when individual people act in their self interests to do a thing that, while they know it is harmful to the environment, don’t care because their particular action has a negligible effect on the environment. However, if everybody was to do that action, the “common” (the resource) would be depleted or harmed. Some examples are collecting rocks from trails that say that you can’t collect rocks. If one person collects a rock, life will go on. However, if a million people expect others to follow this rule but don’t, the rocks will get depleted. I’m guilt of committing to the tragedy of the commons in some way or another. I do it every day. But this boat trip is an especially blatant example.

This is something I need to think about. I really, really like fishing. But I’m also really passionate about global warming mitigation. I can certainly talk the talk, but can I walk the walk? My carbon footprint says that I’d be lying to myself if I tried to tell myself I was. I don’t have any clear solutions at this point, and I’ll need to crawl before I can walk. I can’t even crawl right now though.

And on depressing note, uh, thanks for reading.
Charlie

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