2010 was the first year that I volunteered at the Expo. I served on the Carbon Footprint team. I was one of four who walked the floor, surveying attendants about:
- How far they drove to get to the expo?
- What was the make/model of the vehicle that they drove/rode in?
- How many people came with them?
We had a booth outside that served as our team headquarters. There we had some laptops, a large metroplex map, and push-pins. Folks came by and gave the same info to the questions above and we assigned them a rating and corresponding colored push-pin. Green-colored pins were, you know, well...EXCELLENT! It meant than you received a low carbon rating and had minimal impact on your trip out that Saturday. It devolved from there, of course--blue, red, black. I think black was the worst. I remember interviewing one guy laughed when he told me that he drove some kind of three-axle truck from Weatherford...alone. Irony, indeed.
Now, about that college student. I posed my questions to this young man whose face fell as I started in. He quickly interrupted me in that indignant and frenetic way that twenty-somethings do when they've recently spent a lot of time arguing about such subjects with their compadres over late-night Taco C chow.
"That's a terrible indicator of carbon footprint and it's much more complicated than that!" he complained. He, then, proceeded to grill me on the finer points of GHGs (that's "Green House Gas Emissions") and how transportation carbons are a small fraction of the total footprint picture.
I gave him one of those shoulder-shrugging I-just-work-here looks. Clearly, I had been under-trained for this job. We awkwardly parted and I shook it off.
I went on to survey the most of anyone else on our team--500+ people. My method was to catch people while they were waiting in line for things. They didn't have anything better to do and I wasn't asking for money so I didn't any resistance to answering my questions.
I've been thinking about that kid, though. He was right in that the problem of GHGs is much bigger than individual actions. A quick search on Wikipedia shows that "Residential" and "Transportation" emissions account for only 25% of all annual GHG impact. The biggest offenders are the Industrial and Power-generating (see: coal) sectors. Alas, our problems are always bigger that we think. It still doesn’t mean we are powerless of ineffectual. I am convinced that by continuing to (cliché alert!) reuse, reduce, and recycle—along with lobbying for change through legislation—we can affect the world for the better. Not convinced?
I came across this two-year old video by high school science teacher Greg Craven about our decisions to take action regarding Global Warming. I have to say that it's fairly convincing, even in its original iteration. Apparently, his theory has been sharpened after tens of thousands of comments. He even self-published a book about it. Craven’s engaging, to boot. Take a look: