Lynn Dike

Going supergreen

2007-10-31 10:38

Lynn Dike

You can't cut down a tree these days without hearing about environmental issues and how the whole world is going to hell in a hand-basket. So I thought I'd do some investigating around this very topical issue.

And it's true; we're in a spot of bother. Let's look at it this way. The Earth has been around for 4.6 billion years. If you scaled this down to 46 years, it would mean that humans have been around for about four hours and the Industrial Revolution began barely one minute ago.

And boy, in this short period of time, have we been busy. We have scoured our planet for ways to get fuels and raw materials, been the cause of the extinction of an incredible amount of plants and beasties, and have multiplied our population to that of a plague.

So who are the real baddies of this tale of woe? Well let's turn our eyes to the minions of George W to begin with. One United States citizen does 20 to 100 times more damage to the planet than one person in the Third World, and one filthy rich American fat cat causes 1 000 times more destruction.

If you put it another way, apparently every three-child family in North America is about as hazardous to the planet as a 103-child Bangladeshi family. Somehow I think if you had a family with 103 children, global warming would be the least of your worries, but that's just an aside.

An environmental monster

I watched An Inconvenient Truth, smirked the smirk of the superior, and clucked at the environmentally un-friendly Americans. I really didn't think that little old folks like me were that much of a problem.

Then I did an environmental footprint test, feeling awfully smug, and nearly had a stroke when I saw the result. I'm an environmental monster!

According to the test, if everybody lived like me, we'd need 5,7 planets. Which is a problem, as last time I checked, we just had the one.

Since my carbon footprint looked like it belonged to a yeti, I looked for some tips to put myself on better terms with Mother Earth. I already have energy saver light bulbs at home, but I must admit, that's only because Eskom came around and changed them all for me.

I thought I'd try the tip to turn off the geyser to save electricity, and I must admit this worked really well, with just a few glitches. I was very vigilant and good at switching it off, but unfortunately, really bad at remembering to switch it back on. So I've had a lot of cold showers in the last couple of weeks, standing there shivering and swearing at the planet a lot.

Prince of darkness

My father really got a jump on the energy saving idea, as he's been the prince of darkness for decades. I remember when I was a teenager he would walk up the passage turning off lights as he went, leaving half of the family sitting in the dark wondering what happened.

In each room there would be a few seconds of confused silence before an indignant "Hey!" echoed after him.

Other energy saving tips I discovered include closing the fridge door, and not opening the refrigerator or freezer until you are sure what you will be getting. So at 03:00 when you're standing in the kitchen in your jim-jams looking for a snack, don't do what I do and hover in front of the open fridge for ages trying to decide exactly what your taste buds desire.

To lessen carbon emissions, you should use public transport, ride a bike to work or at least carpool with colleagues. Since I have the desire to get to work in one piece, public transport isn't an option, and if I rode a bike to work I'd have to lie down and recover in the reception area for two hours when I got there which wouldn't be very productive. So carpooling is the most viable option.

Now all I have to do is find another workaholic in the northern suburbs who works the ridiculous hours that I do. Hmm, I'm seeing a few problems in the plan for the new green me.

So excuse me if I have to rush off, I need to build a wall around my house to counteract the rising seas due to melting ice caps, and apparently it's all my fault.

Send your comments to Lynn.

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