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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Today is Large Carbon Footprint Day

While I'm not an eco-terrorist by any means, I certainly try to be mindful of how the Hayley family consumes energy. We don't own gas-guzzlers (well, we do have the classic pickup, but that doesn't really count since we rarely drive it) and we carpool. 

This is borne out of living for several years overseas and adapting to how the rest of the world gets around. We're also very fortunate that our offices are located within a couple of miles of each other, facilitating the carpool process. 

My goal since moving back here from the UK has been to create as much of a circle life as possible. We drive to work, I drop Kelly off and head on to my  office and reverse course in the evening, stopping at the gym on the way home. Stores and errands must be on my circle or relatively close to it. If it's a 15-20 minute drive away, forget it. I'll shop somewhere else. 

Gas efficient? Yes. But also time efficient, which is (if I'm honest) a bigger concern for me. 

Today, however, our day has looked more like this:

Chaos. Kelly's office calls it popcorn - you just don't know what's going to pop up or where. Work is crazy and I had an early dentist appointment. So we left early, I dropped Kelly at work and drove back to the dentist - which is close to home (on my circle route). After my appointment, I drove back to my office. I had a meeting downtown at noon, then came back to the office to work for another few hours. I headed out, late, for Kelly's office, only to arrive and find he had to work late. Back to my office I went to get in some extra tasks. There will be no gym tonight, but we will at least head straight home - no stops - for the evening.

I try my best, but it's a large carbon footprint kind of day and there's not much to be done about it.


  1. that isn't anything CLOSE to an eco-terrorist. You are eco-friendly. HUGGGE difference. I am still working on getting that way. While we have no option but to drive 2 vehicles due to schedules, we only drive one of them most of the time.
    I also had a "chaos" day on the 4th of July ... why because I didn't think of everything that would be closed due to the holiday.

  2. It is close to impossible to live with anything close to a small carbon footprint here in Texas. Our entire transportation system is built around the car, and there is no true alternative. DART comes no where close to saturating the city enough to make bus or train transportation viable. Most European cities got this right - when I was in Germany, I traveled half of the country and through Hamburg and Berlin without even touching a car. Very nice!

  3. What Americans often forget is that we were built as a country around the "Go west young man" framework - and then the automobile industry hit at just the wrong time for us to facilitate a bigger "spread out" mentality. This was not so much an error on our part as it was just a fact of history. The stupid thing I see is people just unwillingness to change with the times. People think they have a "right" to be stupid and that, then, someone else (govt?) should protect them from the consequences of their stupidity. (credit cards, mortgages, gas prices, etc).

    Fine - you have the right to own a gas guzzler and drive 3 hours a days - that is your right. You also have a right to pay for it. Instead, people feel the govt should keep them from having to do so - insane. Life changes, folks. Prices overseas have been WAY higher a long time, and people just happened to have much easier public transport? Maybe - if you LIKE being a sardine in your early morning commute - been there, done that! SO, doable, but not easy. They could take the mentality of, "I am not doing that! I will drive myself and pay an extra $?? a month to have my alone time AND live where I want in relation to my work and drive a large Texas size car!

    But you know what? They still have the brain we seem to have left east while going west. They change their lives to better their situation. As Dave Ramsey says, "Adults devise a plan and stick with it - CHILDREN do what feels good"

    We learned some about the oil industry we were not aware of from my dad - his family comes from the oil industry...

    We could drill and refine more of our own oil...but it would not help us at this point! Surprised me to hear! Here is why...

    The oil cartel learned long ago that they could control us where oil is concerned because we are capitalists and they do not hurt for money. Here is the American mentality - if we could just get environmentalists and Californians and Floridians and Alaskans to back off and let us drill and refine, the price of oil would become managable because, "we would have our own oil."

    Here is the problem - we tried more of that in the 70's under Carter. The Cartel simply said, "We can be Wal-Mart and offer the lowest price - ALWAYS"

    They lowered their prices (like wally world-they are not hurting for money) until USA oil companies in a capitalist country could no longer compete.

    Now, I do NOT understand all of this - but while I hate Wal-Mart, I cannot deny that what they are doing is working. I do not think they are ethical in their business practices, but not being ethical is not illegal.

    I digress...point is, don't expect that we necessarily will see an end to this. Change your life habits or change your expectations with money. Government never has - and never will fix your life.

  4. Good points. My own point was not to complain about my own driving or how much I pay. I've commented to my wife more than once that I'll pay whatever I need to in order to keep the gas flowing and the lines clear. The gas rationing and shortages of the 70's was, from what I hear, a nightmare.

    What is not realistic is for people who want Americans to live with a smaller carbon footprint (a good idea in principle) to change their lifestyles without the supporting public infrastructure in place. I would be more than happy to drive less, but I would either have to move in closer to where I work in Dallas, which is not going to happen because I have two school age girls who I am NOT sending to the DISD, or I have to take public transportation, which is next to nonexistent here.

  5. You both make great points. Americans have become accustomed to a life which has, by and large, not reached the "pain point" which forces change. Thus, money has not been invested in infrastructure (I would argue that money has not been sufficiently invested in maintaining existing infrastructure, by that's tangential) nor city planning which encourages an urban lifestyle.

    That's not to mention the appalling state of education in our first and (increasingly) second tier cities. I've often said that the resurgence of downtown Dallas will be limited to empty nesters and DINKs because most families will be hard pressed to pay $250k and up for 1500 sf, plus set aside the money for private schooling. Until DISD completely rehabs, it's just not an option for most. The magnet schools are great - but not a guaranteed entry for everyone who wants that quality of teaching.

    We live in sprawl - sprawl brought by cheap and abundant land, and cheap gas.

    I would say that at this point, our obligation is to do what we can as much as we can. I can be thoughtful in my errand running, thoughtful in my choice of vehicles and gas efficiency. I can set my thermostat slightly to 76 rather than 72 in the summer, and at 78 rather than 88 during the winter.

    I can choose to not have my world tailor-made for my comfort, yet also recognize that there are realities in the part of the world that I call home.

    I like to walk to the grocery store, but I have to accept that this requires playing the human version of Frogger to get across a busy side street where crosswalks and signal lights are not pedestrian friendly.

    I am a huge Mavericks fan, but I also work full-time, so the long travel time that taking the DART requires isn't an option. I'm going to be driving more during the NBA season.

    I can't be without a car at work, because meetings and work-related travel happens every week, sometimes nearly every day.

    I truly believe that things will have to be much worse than $4 gas to radically alter the US culture. I also am willing to pay more, because I do, statistically, drive less than many others and I have an incredibly fuel-efficient car. That's a small change that many can make - and likely will if price forces it.

  6. Sorry Craig

    Actually had not read your posting...I was just commenting on American culture in general...

  7. Not a problem, K. I was just afraid that I had been unclear in my initial post, so I wanted to clarify. I agree with all of the points you made (especially about not waiting around for the government to fix everything - what the government needs to do now is get out of the way :-).


  8. If you want govt to get out of the way...

    Give them a job.

    That wilt at least get 3-4 watching and out of the way as 1 tries to work...