Friday, April 21, 2006

Earth Day Lecture

The day before yesterday, I put on my Earth Shoes and attended a lecture by Carl Pope, the executive director of the Sierra Club. This being Brown, despite the heartbreakingly stunning and evanscent beautiful spring weather (in the 30s last week) the lecture hall was filled.

Of course he was more or less preaching to the converted. When he asked "How many people drove to this lecture in an SUV?" Nary a hand went up. Part of the reason also might be that everything in campus is within walking distance. In fact, in the classroom where I teach, a building that is a ten-minute walk away instead of a five-minute walk, people are always complaining (sigh, sigh!) about the DISTANCE.

The useful part of the talk was Mr. Pope's likening global warming to a bottomless pit in which a village has been throwing all its trash. Unfortunately, as the village has gotten wealthier and has been producing more trash, faster, a strange smell and the evidence of flies has appeared, which would seem to suggest that the pit, in fact, is NOT bottomless. However, the main polluters of the village have hired some kind of expert witnesses who work hard to convince people that they yet had no proof that the pit was not NOT bottomless, either. Until all the villagers were totally confused and paralyzed into inaction. Sound familiar?

Interestingly, although Mr. Pope radiated preppiness (Ralph Lauren oxford shirt, etc.), he was attended by two comely and very young women in seemingly identical short little black dresses with not much room to pin on their Sierra Club badges.

We retired to the Environmental Studies dept. for the reception, which was, er, SHRIMP, something that's ruining the environment all over southern Asia. I subtly tried to make a bit of a stink about it, but all I was assured was, "Try it, they're very good." I did not, but I did enjoy the sight of undergrads stuffing the tender pink commas into their mouths as fast as they would go. Then I went home to chuck some more stuff (egg shells, avocado skins) on the compost heap, which is still kind of half-frozen so, thank goodness, it has not yet started to smell.

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