Friday, 6 April 2007

Some Thoughts on Going Green

This morning, my wife, dog (Coco), and I walked to Starbucks for breakfast. It’s about a half hour walk and was especially pleasant today as the weather was sunny and warm. We felt good because we got some exercise and we weren’t contributing any crappy stuff to global warming or climate change. I felt almost as good as when I take my Vespa to the hardware store (like I did today) or to the grocery store because I’m being part of the solution instead of part of the problem. When I’m in my new Mazda, that’s a different story but we’ll leave that for now...

So my wife and I are enjoying a bagel and a latté and the dog is enjoying a bowl of water. The Starbucks is, what I guess, a typical suburban Starbucks - there is no cool street or plaza to look onto so our outside table looks onto the mall parking lot. Not as interesting as the Champs Elysees, but there are still people that go by and some are quite watchable.

Suddenly, we came to the realization that there are several pick up trucks, most of them black, all of them large. Now, remember, this is a mall parking lot, and most of the people are going to Starbucks to grab a Good Friday coffee. My wife and I sigh and comment quietly to each other about the number of gas guzzling trucks that have been pressed into coffee retrieval service. There is a certain resignation - maybe it’s because that’s the only vehicle someone has - as the steady stream of dark coloured pick up trucks roll by. At least I drive my Vespa, or ride my bike, I think, a good deal of the time.

And then, it happens. Some guy in a massively big pick up rolls up with his wife. He hops out fo the cab ( he is rather short) and leaves his truck running! He spends five or ten minutes in Starbucks getting his coffee and then spends another five minutes chatting to the people who are next to us. As the huge engine thrums and chugs and clouds of smoke issue forth, I actually consider saying something. I realize, though, that there are people who have always felt that they could idle their cars all day long - and I’m sure, at one time, that was what was accepted. Getting mad at them or making them mad at me is not the answer.

So what is the answer? Well, I teach a group of 30 kids. They see me ride my bike or my Vespa most days to school. I talk to them about how if everyone makes small differences in saving the environment, then it adds up to big changes. I speak to the people I work with and also my extended family about what I am doing to reduce my impact on the environment. I’m certainly not a super environmental greenie, but I’m trying and I’m working to affect change with people around me.

Eventually, the guy in the idling truck roars off. It seems that most of the trucks have left the parking lot as well. I sit back in my chair with my latté and look up at the clearing sky as the sun pokes it’s head through the clouds. I contemplate a nice walk home and then a trip to do several errands on the Vespa. My final thought as I grab Coco’s leash is, don’t be mad, and think - the more people that make a difference, the better off we’ll all be, so do the best I can. And don't worry about the idling yahoos...


Michael said...

Hey dude,

Just dropped in to say nice blog! I'm a school teacher in Sydney, Australia and have recently bought a scooter and plan to commute as much as possible. I really liked your post on the 10 minute idle truck. Imagine if we took all trucks (or all vehicles for that matter) and added up their idle time each day. I wonder what the end result would be. A lot of senseless destruction, I guess... but then again, has the human race ever been any different?

Thanks for the blog and the validation that I'm making a difference. Would you mind having a quick poke around my new blog ( and give me a few pointers as to how I can make it as interesting as possible for other scooter enthusiasts?



Anonymous said...


Not that I'm against saving the planet or anything, I ride a Vespa too, but global warming due to carbon emmisions is basically all incorrect.

Carbon levels rise with the temperature, not the other way around. The rising heat is due to the approach of a heat spot or blemish on the surface of the sun.

Apart from anything, animals (cows, specifically), the sea and even rotting forest and foliage emit more carbon EACH (not collectivley) than every single human on earth.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading your blog Dave. I think all the little bits add up and if more of us do a little, it's not only a start, it's quite possibly the beginning of a greater change that others will pick up on. I think we take the lead of others and slowly incorporate change. Keep the faith.

a fellow Lobster

Dave Dixon said...

Hmm,,, maybe this entry is a bit more contentious than a trip into the mountains. I guess that's a good thing!

Thanks for the comment - and thanks for the support. I, too, often wonder if I am making a difference and it's great to see people who think in a similar way.

I think it's great that you are doing your own blog - and I think you're off to a great start! I know that before I started mine, I looked at lots of other blogs to give me ideas.

I certainly like how you include lots of pictures on your blog and it looks to me that you're doing a super job. As long as your blog shares something about you, I think that's all that matters. Sorta like "if you blog it, they will read..."

Good luck and I'll be reading yours regularly - I've also linked to your blog from mine.

I can't see that idling a car is any good for the environment. The BBC News site lists chemicals such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide, benzene, formaldehyde, polycyclic hydrocarbons, and lead that are part of what comes out of an exhaust. Even if you don't believe in climate change, you have to agree that idling your vehicle and spewing that stuff out of your exhaust is a very bad idea. As for your contention that global warming, or climate change, is not affected by carbon emissions, well, we'll just have to agree to disagree. :-)

fellow Lobster
My thoughts exactly - if we all do a little, it will add up to a lot!

Bill Sommers said...

Right on Dave! I'll do my part as well.

It will never pay to confront the non-caring, or uninformed. I just try to lead by example as you are doing, and hope to gain followers in the process.

Have fun,

Combatscoot said...

Teaching our future generation to have more respect for our environment is probably the most effective way to make changes.

Dave Dixon said...

Thanks for the support. If we all do a little, together we can make a difference.

That's what I try to do more and more in my classroom at school!