Oct 15, 2009

Step aside, John Candy

Planes trains and automobiles? Bah! Yesterday I did bicycle-car-bus-ferry-bus-walk-car-train-run-plane-walk-plane-shuttle (with the train going below, on and above ground). It got me:
  • to school with the boys
  • home to host Zekiah's kindergarten class as they helped harvest the pumpkins they planted last year (and ate roasted potatoes from a bonfire, and a lovely potluck lunch with most of the parents afterwards, which I had to leave early to go...
  • over to Vancouver for an Oxfam Canada regional steering committee (where the locally involved volunteers give input for me to carry to the national board meeting), then
  • overnight to Ottawa for that board meeting
I should be ranting about carbon footprint. I was complicit in our unspoken jetsetting agenda to destroy our children's world, and ironically doing so en route to an Oxfam meeting to discuss how consumption- and pollution-induced climate change is multiplying the food insecurity and hardships experienced by women and children around the world. But I just did what we all do - probably the crux of the whole problem - shrugged and said that it was necessary, then hit the touch screen for some Californication before shutting my eyes to the light and the world.

I am truly thankful that such an efficient web of transport modes is in place for us to get around these days. It let us be with Sarah's family for Uncle Ben's wedding, let me do truly impactful work in Africa, let us explore the wild west coast of Tofino with Texas friends, and expands our world in beautiful connective ways. But we can't just keep closing our eyes to the reality that every single trip we make - to Mexico or to the grocery - negatively impacts our health, our environment, and our children's future.

I feel it every time I jump in the car. I feel it when we plan vacations or even a summer swimming outing - will we really enjoy the water 10 miles away that much more than the river we walk to down the hill? Would our wedding anniversary get-away be that much more romantic in Belize than on nearby Mayne Island?

Hopefully we can move about with this awareness in a way that is constructive, not guilt-ridden and paralyzing: carefully weighing our choices then accepting the consequence. This board meeting, I believe, is important enough for the dozen of us to all fly here for it - the good sustainable work that Oxfam does will far outweigh our carbon blast. The swimming sometimes is a better learning or family bonding or relaxing experience at a newly-discovered hike-in swimming hole.

OK, so this posting did end up being about carbon footprint and travel, but I hope it's not a rant, but a call to consciousness (and true conscientiousness). We live in a mobile world, and should be able to enjoy that without visions of drought-parched Fulani women every minute. But Sarah, my darling wife of 10 years who deserves to be celebrated and schmoozed and smooched, that mud-walled B&B with a wood-burning stove will just have to keep our fires burning - the Belize Beach is just too far away, too high a price for our children to pay for our pleasure.

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