Sunday, September 15, 2019

Fixing The World One Cup At A Time

Every Thursday morning I have coffee with 2 or three friends at Cafe De Arts in Waukesha. I look at this time as some of my favorite discussion time every week. It is a group I was invited to years ago by one of the regulars, and thinking it was another myopic Christian men's Bible study, of which I was still in recovery from, I rightfully declined. Within a week, I got another invite after running into another regular of the group at a different coffee shop.

I took this as a sign that maybe I should give it a shot.

Well, suffice it to say it was not at all what I feared. When I first joined, I found out that these guys sometimes did a book study, but with very loose rules to it. If you didn't get to the reading for the week, there was no shame, heck some guys never got around to buying the book. That's about as loose as you can get.
A few Thursday Coffee Guys. -Photo Courtesy of RoostMKE

It is not always a religious book either. We've read books by Buddhists, hippies and recovering evangelicals. Put another way, we are NOT reading the likes of Purpose Driven Life.

Anyway, sometimes it's not a book at all, like the current moment. We are "between books" and just get together to talk, laugh and have coffee. And it is interesting the subjects that come up from week to week.

This week, one of the guys expressed his guilt at having just traveled to Scotland for vacation. He said he was feeling guilty for the "irresponsibility" of the air travel he'd just undertaken in the name of personal entertainment. Now, to be fair, this guy drives a hybrid vehicle that gets 50 miles to the gallon. Despite that he was still feeling guilt because we are all dreadfully aware of all that is going on with the climate and carbon buildup.

It was then that one of us pointed out that a plane burns 17 gallons of fuel a minute. 17 gallons a minute!* I was horrified. How could anyone travel internationally anywhere with a clear conscience I wondered?

Well that led to how we take car travel for granted and that the real problem is too many cars. We noted that in the 70's, a 20 minute ride across town was a lot! A distance that made you think twice, not due in part to gas prices. Now, people think nothing of a 40 minute commute. Daily!

The discussion digressed from there, as they sometimes do and turned to how we all should resort back to ship travel if we're going to go international. It is at least more economical.

I mentioned how the president of ESRI, the software company we use at work, donated enough a few years ago to plant a tree for every person at the conference, thereby offsetting the carbon used to get people there. I thought that was a novel concept.

I told them that I have environmental guilt too, but that now that I've been to London, I have a travelling bug and want to go back to Europe. So, basically, while I feel bad about what it takes to get there, I still want mine. That is the way entitlement feels. I know it and I'm not sure I'm ready to give it up. I am, therefore, the problem. I shoudl ideally bend to my guilt and stay in my neighborhood for the rest of my life. And wow, that is so fun.

So, instead of flying as a tourist or even taking a ship overseas, my friend said I should go to Africa, and plant some trees when I get there. When I asked if I could do it in Scotland or Italy, as I'd rather go there, he said, "They don't need trees. You have to go to Africa."

So that is how the conversations go from serious "How to save the planet" to lightening it up in the name of keeping our sanity. I am at least happy to be among company that thinks at this level. One week we are talking about micro-plastics in our water, the next about the military war machine, and the next about solar arrays that will one day soon will provide 7% of a California city's power need. Not only that, but you can plant crops in the shade of these solar arrays, that could not formerly be grown there because of the sun. Ideas on top of ideas.

I told these guys if we met for coffee every week, we could achieve energy independence and global peace.

And I believe that, if only everyone else in the world would listen.

Blogging off...

*(I later looked it up and it turns out it a 747 burns one gallon a second. One a second! At the same time, when spread over a 500 person plane, it turns out to be more efficient than a car. Well, who knew? I feel slightly better. See the article here.)

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