« Mystery solved... | Main | Veiled Threat »

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Yeah right, I'm the problem

I had always suspected that my flashy lifestyle and conspicuous consumption would land me in trouble some day...and that day seems to have arrived.

I had resigned myself to being an obstacle to peace...what with living in Israel, raising my family here, and working here. You know...basically pissing off the entire Arab world and most of Europe just by continuing to respirate. Well today I took a quiz which told me that my offense goes far beyond mere issues of borders and religion. It seems, I am [gasp] using far more than my fair share of the earth's resources!

Now, before you start submitting my e-mail address to the Sierra Club's black list, let me explain. We all know that planet earth has a finite amount of non-renewable resources. We also know (after being reminded about a gazillion times) that the day is fast approaching when many of said resources are going to start drying up. We worry about it as we drive around in our honking SUVs. We worry about it as we pick out our teak furniture for our manicured lawns. We agonize over it as we pour lakes and reservoirs over said cars and lawns...and lo-and-behold - the problem doesn't go away! Go figure.

Well, this quiz is based upon the sound premise that each person uses a specific amount of land to provide for his / her continued existence...something called your 'footprint'.

After answering a few simple questions about where in the world I live, the number of people in my household, my commuting habits, and various questions about what I consume, I get the answer: I'm a big, fat, over-consuming, selfish, land-hog! Apparently, if everyone on earth consumed the way I do, we would need 3 earths to sustain our combined avarice!

Now, I'm not trying to make light of the obvious problems facing the world due to over-consumption. But couldn't I come to some kind of arrangement with, say, a nice family living in the Amazon basin to use some of their resource allotment. I mean, c'mon...most of the industrialized nations of the world make these kinds of deals all the time. There are actually, honest-to-goodness, signed international agreements stating that each country has a set amount of poison (call it whatever scientific name you like) it is allowed to pump into the air. Now, most of the countries who signed on to this lunacy knew full well that they couldn't possibly live up to the terms when they put pen to paper...soooo, they set about 'borrowing' some of the un-used 'poison allowance' from 'developing' countries that have little or no industry. In return they provide loan guarantees, economic aid, glass beads, trinkets, and other much-needed help to our friends still living in the jungles of the world. Good deal, right? Yeah, except it allows everyone to go on doing pretty much what they've been doing all along.

Hopefully, by now you have the results of your quiz in hand...so let's examine for a moment, my own little quiz. I call it, 'the lifeboat', and here is the set-up:

You are adrift in a lifeboat with a bunch of needy people who are just as determined to survive as you are. The boat has a fixed amount of food and water. Your choices are:

a) keep taking your share of the rations until the food and water run out, and then you die;
b) take more than your share (by force, if necessary) in hopes that this will allow you to live more comfortably...while you wait for the supplies to run out, and then you die;
c) take less than everyone else in hopes that others will follow your example...thus forestalling the inevitable point at which you all die a horrible death from thirst and starvation;
d) poke your head over the side of the boat and take notice of all those yummy little fishes swimming around the boat, and devise some way to catch a whole bunch of ‘em.

Answers 'a', 'b', and 'c', make no sense, yet nearly every single one of us has made one of these three our life's choice. Answer 'd' is the only one that makes sense, but it also requires the most work (and foresight).

Despite the fact that nearly every roof here in Israel has a solar water heater, Israel is still using coal and oil to provide most of its electricity. Sure, there are a few wind farms up on the Golan Heights, and some experimental solar steam generators down in the Negev Desert. We have a wonderful public transportation system, comprised of inter- and intra-city busses that are really dandy (when they aren't being blown up!). And, we also have a shiny new commuter railroad system that is adding new track and cars all the time. But for all that...we have really only changed our collective answer from 'a' or 'b', to 'c'. We're all still sittin' in the lifeboat, workin' on our tan.

So… why this particular rant on this particular day? I guess that quiz set me off. Go ahead and give it a whirl...maybe it really is me causing all the problems. But if your score comes out anything like mine (trust me...if you're sitting in a nice warm house / apartment reading this on a computer... it will), maybe it's time we stopped playing the blame game. It's fine for some Berkenstock-wearing, granola-eating, compost-turning, tree-hugging, spotted owl-loving, bleeding ponytail* to whip up some nifty web quiz on his iMac in order to make us all feel guilty. But at the end of the day, he’s also sitting in the lifeboat, taking his rations according to plan 'c' instead of 'd'.

* Bleeding Ponytail


An elderly, post-sellout baby boomer pining for his pre-sellout hippie days.

[thanks Jesse]

Posted by David Bogner on January 14, 2004 | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Yeah right, I'm the problem:


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Well I suggest you count yourself as lucky only using 3 Earths. My score was higher, so much so that I'm ashamed to say. But, hey, I live in Los Angeles, so I should get probably a 2 Earth handicap for that.

I will be jetting off to the closest rainforest in my hemisphere and brokering a deal with some of the natives.

Posted by: beth | Jan 16, 2004 9:47:29 PM

thanks for the photo credits

Posted by: Chaim Snow | Jan 21, 2004 9:59:54 AM

Post a comment

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In