Saturday, September 17, 2005

well, no wonder!

Today, a school event with my daughter, I saw evidence of just how stupid our culture is, energy-wise.
It seemed innocuous enough, just a gathering to promote healthy exercise for children (and, more subtly, their parents). Their goal is for each child to run, incrementaly, a Marathon. Nice, yes? Sure. But listen:
For starters, there were hundreds of cars driven to the event, many of which were full-sized SUVs (this is Big D, after all). Many had come dozens of miles to be there. Some schools, like ours, arranged for busses to pick up kids and parents and bring them to the event. That's good, right? Well, except that our school anticipated enough people for four busses, but only got enough for about two (maybe even one, tightly packed). Good energy sense would have said, "send two busses back, and save that fuel". Of course, that's not the American way. We are the land of the All-You-Can-Eat-Buffet, the land of I Payed For It, It's Mine. So the decision was made to use all four busses. So now we're at the event, where we have a parking lot fulled with cars and ringed with busses, some of which remain running during the event to keep the drivers cool and comfortable while they wait to take people back.
So we're all there, now. After a bit of speechifying, and then some grateful plugs to a couple of corporations for donating stuff, the event begins! In groups of several hundred each, kids and parents are herded to one end of a standard oval track, then... They're Off! Some walking, some running, everyone went around the track a time and a half, then trooped past the tables, and picked up their free bottled water (plus complimentary corporate-labelled water bottle). Then, after a lot of milling around while everybody found everybody they came with, they all got back into their respective vehicles and went home (after leaving hundreds of empty water bottles in and around the two trash barrels provided for the dumpster-sized quantity of bottles handed out).
That was it. Three and a half hours, at least a quarter of it spent in some form of petroleum-fueled transportation. All that driving so that a bunch of kids could go around in a circle one and a half times.
How much energy was collectively wasted in a pseudo-event that should have been taught in their school's P.E. class. If we'd spent the 3½ hours walking on our own, just around the neighborhood, we'd have been half way to the goal by now. And this was just one event in one day in one city. No wonder we use 25% of the worlds energy.

No comments: