Wednesday, October 17, 2007

An Inconvenient Truth, Indeed

Last night, Jon and I went to the Egyptian Theater in downtown Boise to watch Al Gore's movie An Inconvenient Truth. Not seeing the irony at first, I wanted to drive to the theater. I had ridden my bike into downtown and back twice already for a total of eight miles. I was coming down with a cold. I had been to the gym and was tired, sore. It was supposed to rain that evening. This time of year, the temperature drops into the 40s and 50s after dark--our ride home would be cold and possibly wet. Can you hear the whine?

Jon convinced me to pull up my bootstraps and get on the bike. I conceded that driving to see this movie about global climate change due to carbon emissions would be like sticking a thumb in Al Gore's eye. And that would hurt.

Within the first few minutes of the film, I realized something very important. I didn't know what global warming was, or rather, I didn't know how it worked. Nor did I understand precisely how or why the glaciers and polar ice caps were melting. I knew that global warming was bad and that CO2 emissions are a major contributing factor. I could make a general correlation but didn't understand the science behind it. I won't go into it here, just see the movie. It does an excellent job of making this erudite science accessible to the lay person.

One of the boons of moving to Boise has been our ability to commute by bicycle to 90% of any place we might need to go. The only time I need to get in the car is to go to Target, Costco, or to do a major grocery shop. Even Office Depot is downtown; yesterday Jon made me stop and buy a ream of paper and cart it home on my bike. Oh the humanity!

Back in Raleigh, I often spent up to two hours in the car on my daily commute to and from work. Now I spend 25 minutes on my bike, roundtrip. People in Boise take their bicycling and bicycle commuting seriously and it is not uncommon to see entire families riding around town. Bicycles with kid trailers are exceedingly common, as are tandem and triple parent/kid bikes. I would consider bicycle commuting to be the single most effective change I have made in addressing global climate change, but it is just not possible for everyone, just like it wasn't an option for me until recently.

Our favorite activity tracking website has added a carbon dioxide offset calculator. Since moving to Boise on August 1st, I have saved .07 tons or 140 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions by commuting just 105 miles on the bike! That is only a savings of about $25 in gasoline, but the reality is that our overall gasoline consumption has gone down considerably (several hundred dollars per month) because everything is so much closer in Boise. Even when we do drive, nothing is very far.

For those of you that can't commute by bicycle, there are so many other options available to help offset carbon emissions and save energy. See the movie, check out the website, switch to fluorescent light bulbs, adjust your thermostat, reduce your waste, reuse things, recycle everything you can, compost, replace your bottled water consumption with filtered tap water, grow some food, eat food grown locally.

And because I know how much people like pictures, here is one for you. It has nothing to do with global warming but is just a darn cute picture of my brother and my nephew.


jer said...

i'll make sure to try and not hit you in the head with my hardees heart attack thick burger wrapper, as i'm driving by in my hummer, but i will make it a point to yell, "stupid hippies" as i drive by.

you know i'm joking right, theres no way i could afford a hummer.

jon when are you getting a skateboard?

Kate said...

Oh Jer, still making me laugh out loud! Yes, I know you can't afford a hummer. xoxo