Tuesday, July 6, 2010
ROBERTA: I'm guessing most of the country is watching what's unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico with absolute horror: pools of oil washing up on the white beaches, the oil-slicked animals, the enormous plumes of oil under the surface floating lord knows where and wreaking who knows what destruction. Even if we're not directly affected by the disaster right now, who knows where the damage will end?
It's such a helpless feeling. I've read a number of essays and op-eds that remind us that this should be a wake-up call. Sure we've been talking about how we need to conserve energy and change from fossil fuels to green energy for years. But is now the time to really do something about it?
Sooner or later, my family will need to buy a new car. So we've been looking into the choices--we need room for long car trips, and want comfort and good driving in bad weather. But now I've added another line to the list--must, absolutely must, get better than decent mileage.
HALLIE: I thought a lot about energy conservation when we were in Greece--there, hotel room keys not only opened the door, but when you got in the room you put the into a slot and it turned on the electricity to the room. So when the room was empty, ALL the electricity was off.
The truth is, we Americans take not even the tiniest step toward energy conservation. If we could just turn off all our appliances (except maybe the fridge) when we're not using them, we'd save so much. What would make us do it--nothing short of a huge spike in the cost of electricity. Gouge baby gouge...my new mantra. My product for the new millenium: : The Really Really Off Switch.
HANK: Oh, really really off. So interesting! I've been in a million hotels this week--and I've noticed that the rooms are now very dark. Even if you turn on all the lights (sorry). So clearly someone has realized at this level there are ways to save energy even with things on.
Isn't the answer is to find another energy source. And yet, when people start talking about wind turbines, it's all--not in my back yard!
(Digression: CONGRATULATIONS TO HALLIE for winning THE DAVID at Deadly Ink Convention! We're so proud! And well deserved...)
JAN: Congrats Hallie!! Energy conservation is tricky because you have movie stars promoting "green" as they fly between gigs in their private jets. People in 10,000 foot square foot homes point to SUVs as the culprit. Everyone blames someone else and gets all huffy about it.
I'm frugal by nature so I'd like to see everyone live more economically and modestly. But in a capitalist society, its not really going to happen unless economics dictate. In my formative years, I was impressed by research I did for a magazine article on alternative energy for The Real Paper. So I was appalled when people on the cape and Martha's Vineyard opposed the Wind Farm. And I still don't think it will destroy the view, but when I learned how much more expensive energy from the wind farm was going to be, I started to feel like I'd been had by a "feel good" solution.
I just don't believe that anything that's not driven by economics will succeed.
HALLIE: See? Gouge!!!! It's the only way. Oil and gas and coal have to get prohibitively expensive or everyone clutches their wallet and moans.
Thanks on the David... Is it 'energy-efficient' bulbs that make those rooms so dark?
ROBERTA: Just came across a very interesting article about whether people doing the little things can make a difference. This lady says yes, absolutely and references Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point. Once you're finished reading us, please hop over and take a look.
RO: I guess I think we do our own small part to conserve energy. We have one car, don't have a.c. in CT, I use a manual lawn mower, we put in a new energy efficient heating system, installed the smaller toilets which use less water, I no longer run the water while I brush my teeth, we use the goofy light bulbs and reuse or recycle. I have to think doing the little things matters - otherwise I wouldn't do any of it.
I remember going out with a colleague once and requesting skim milk for my coffee. She jokingly asked how many calories I was saving by not using the cream and I said I had no idea. But if I didn't do it, I might be asking for the dessert menu instead. Same principle.
RHYS: My congrats to Hallie too! Jungle Red Babes rock!
I've always been energy conservative. I think living in California we are so aware of water conservation. I also haven't run water while i brush my teeth for decades. We have all energy efficient light bulbs--they are somewhat dim compared to the old kind and they don't look pretty but the savings are enormous. We have our garden on a timed drip system. We've always made good gas mileage a priority. My last 3 cars have been Camrys and I will probably get the hybrid next time, unless they come out with a good electric car first.
What bugs me a lot is the absolutely wasted energy--skyscrapers with every office blazing light all night. Ditto department stores. I know they need some light for security, but surely there could be a night system.
I'd like a clothes line in my backyard as we get plenty of sun, but this is frowned upon. It's especially stupid not to dry clothes outside in Arizona where we have three hundred plus sunny days a year.
I'd like to be able to walk to stores and post office, but I can't, so a tiny plug in car for errands might be a great idea if they come up with an inexpensive one.
ROBERTA: Love the story about the skim milk Ro! Rhys, isn't that no-clothesline rule the ultimate in silliness? Maybe you can start a revolution in your condo complex! How about you guys? Are you noticing changes in your choices? And by the way, I have two brand new copies of UNSPOILED: Florida Writers Speak for Florida's Coast to give away to those who comment. It's a gorgeous book full of thoughtful essays.
And lest you think this will be a dreary week on Jungle Red, we welcome firecracker newcomer Sophie Littlefield to the blog on Wednesday. Then we'll be turning to food, glorious, food, and a surprise foodie guest on Friday. So come back often!