Tuesday, March 11, 2008


I am supposed to be in class right now, but the fire alarm went off and they sent us away. So here's what happened. The teacher was presenting a phenomenal lecture on housing when the strobe light on the alarm starts flashing and the alarm sounds. The instructor turns to the class and asks, "Does that mean we have to leave?" I'm not questioning my professor's intelligence, but if there is one thing that school has taught me it is that when the fire alarm sounds you leave the building. Maybe they only taught that to the remedial classes that I was attending.

I think we have all experienced this. The alarm sounds and everybody 'knows' it's just a drill or a false alarm. Of course sometimes it is the real thing and evacuation is a matter of life and death, but how many of us have actually been in a real fire where the alarm meant we had to leave? I'm guessing it is a small percentage.

How about red air quality days. They happen all the time around here. I've been told that it's due to the geography of the land. We live in a valley surrounded by mountains and the pollution just doesn't move out of the valley. Interesting. I thought that we caused the pollution. So we have red days where the radio guy tells us that we aren't supposed to burn in the fireplace unless we need it for heat, we're not supposed to drive and we're supposed to avoid exercising outside. This is quite similar to the fire alarm I heard this morning. People hear that and complain about the pollution as they hop into their SUV and drive by themselves to work.

I ride my bike on the red air quality days and I notice it because my eyes get red and burn and my throat gets dry and itchy. There is a lot of pollution in the air and I probably shouldn't be riding. But what are my other options? I could take the bus. While I am at the beginning of the bus line and would have no problem finding a seat, I know that the bus fills up before it reaches the destination of most of the people. If I take the bus that means that the bus will have to pass people by and they will end up driving. It seems like we need more buses on this route. I could drive my wife's minivan. But I was counseled not to because it contributes to the poor air quality. So I ride my bike and hope that it doesn't kill me.

I thought about writing about the global warming warnings, but I think that is different. I am not certain about the facts of that controversy. Yes, the planet is warming. Are humans the cause? I don't know. We certainly aren't doing anything good for the planet by pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and cutting down the forests that absorb CO2, but I don't know that we are the cause. Are there major problems with pollution around the world? I think so. If we make our air and water unusable will we be in trouble? I think that is an understatement. Have we been warned? Yes, I think we have. Do people care? That's more difficult because I really think that people do care, but they are complacent. Why should I make a change in my life (do something that may be difficult) when my neighbor is going to continue his polluting ways? He'll kill the planet enough for the both of us, so I may as well enjoy while I can. (Did that seem backwards to you, like it did to me?)

I think people are counting on a technological solution that will take care of all our problems. And I think there are some solar and wind technologies that have potential to help greatly in reducing pollution, but I don't think we're going to invent a big filter that is going to clean the air and oceans.

I think our world is doomed unless common people stop listening for warning sirens from public officials and start taking an active stand toward what they believe. Look at the warnings around you. How many pieces of trash did you pass this morning on your way to work? Was there a visible sign of air pollution? Look around, the warnings are around us and will continue until we do something.

1 comment:

Heather said...

I totally agree with you. Maybe a reason for the complacency issue is that people think that little actions don't make a difference, because they can't see immediate results. Which may be a by-product of living in an "instant" culture...?