Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Stupid Ways to Save the Earth

I'm an earth-loving guy. Really, I am. I like to walk through trees, leaves crunching under my feet. I like to keep my carbon footprint low--actually, I always have, but until the last year or so, I had no idea that was what the term was called. I walk to the grocery store and sometimes go months at a time without filling the gas tank in my car.

But enough is enough. Some of these ways I'm seeing to save the planet are nothing short of absurd. This afternoon, I walked to the bank--it was about a 1 hour and 20 minute walk, one way--to deposit a few checks. (I did make a quick stop at Costco where I purchased the Heroes season one DVD set and The Economy magazine along the way--I'm very efficient and like to get multiple things done when I'm off walking around that way.)

And while depositing these checks, I noticed a little sign that claimed if all Americans paid their bills online, it would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1.9 TONS!

I got to thinking about that. Just 1.9 tons? In the grand scheme of things, that's not really a whole lot. It's the word "tons" that throws people off, though. People use it a lot to make things sound heavy. "It weighs a ton!" But have you ever tried to move a "ton" of rocks? I have. While doing some work up in Sequoia National Park many years ago, we had to dig up an old asphalt trail that was no longer in use, and a few of us dug out--if I remember correctly--19 tons of asphalt, carrying it out one wheelbarrow at a time. It was a nice little pile we made, and we felt a great sense of accomplishment at our pile, but I do remember looking at it and thinking, "That's what 19 tons looks like?" It's not as much as you would think.

At last count, there were over 300 million people in our country. That's 300,000,000 for people who like to see a lot of zeros, or 299,999,999 if I don't include myself and you like to see lots of nines. =)

And if every one of them paid their bills online, it would reduce those greenhouse gases by 1.9 tons, or 3,800 pounds, or 60,800 ounces. If you divide 300 million into that, that means each person who pays their bills online is cutting greenhouse gases by.... *drum roll please* 0.002 ounces.

Yes, you read that right. For each person who pays their bills online, they're reducing greenhouse gas emissions by two-one thousandths of an ounce. I seen farts in a tub that create more greenhouse gas emissions than that. Is that really the best suggestion they can come up with for how to save the world?

Of course, that sign really had nothing to do with saving the world. They want to save on postage costs. They want to save the cost of buying envelopes and mailing statements. Which is all fine and good--I love paying my bills online if for no other reason than that's 41 cents less I have to give the post office. Good enough for me!

But it's insulting to my intelligence to suggest that I'm saving the world too. Walking to the bank did far more than paying my bills online would.

Then I walked the 1 hour and 20 minutes back, with a quick stop at Taco Bell along the way. Alas, that stop may have contributed more to global warming than anything else I've done today. ;o)


Stacy Christian said...

Have you ever looked into how much "air" a tree really produces? That's another pet topic that is pretty insignificant in the big picture.
Wish I could walk more. But seeing that the nearest anything is 7 miles away and I have 2 littles in tow...I'll have to stick to making my own cleaning solutions and hanging clothes on the line.

W&MGrad said...

Hmm, you know you are canceling out all the good you do for the planet by walking when you eat at Taco Bell. The emissions from their food is deadly!