Fool’s Errand

Want to save the planet? It seems like a cool idea. I’m down for it. First, the bad news.

There is even more consensus among leading international scientists that climate change is real, that it’s driven by humans, and that its effects are already disastrous. Things are going to be bad in the coming years and decades– all that remains is to determine how bad, depending on whether nations act to reduce carbon emissions and curb other practices harmful to the environment.

Should be a clear call to action for everyone, right? The latest report from the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) could not be based on sounder science.

And yet there are those who deny by reflex, like somebody with Tourette’s unable to stop himself from saying “Shitfuck” over and over again. Climate change deniers, usually in the tank themselves (for fossil fuel interests, hard-right institutes, etc.), try to discredit scientists by claiming they’re in the tank for liberals and tree-huggers and other political crusaders.

I used to have a job at MIT working for a climate change professor and prominent IPCC member. My job was literally to read the professor’s mail (not to mention keeping his calendar). I can say with complete confidence that there is no great lefty conspiracy happening here– just science.

But the industries that benefit from climate change denial have deep pockets and far-reaching influence. (Did you still want a conspiracy?) They have used and will continue to use their power to enforce inertia on the issue, at least as far as the U.S. government is concerned.

With stronger, more comprehensive evidence available than ever before, I’d like to believe that the president and Congress will finally act with sweeping legislation to minimize further damage to the planet… but I’d also like to visit Middle-Earth someday, and I wager the latter is more likely to happen.

So what do I do? What do we do? Just throw up our hands, say “Screw it,” and continue to shop at Walmart and burn tires in our backyard?

Well, you can if you want to. I’m just a guy in Maine with no goons to send after you if you choose the sit-on-thy-duff route.  I’ve got no pull with you, or the United States House of Representatives, or really anyone except my dog, whom I can pull quite readily with a leash and a prong collar.

But I’d kind of like to save the planet. I like living here. I think that if we can each make changes in our own lives– the way we shop,  the way we heat our homes, the way we throw stuff away, and so forth– we can make an end run around apathetic governments and cheerfully rapacious corporations.

We can do this thing ourselves.

April 1st is the perfect day to start saving the planet, in fact. Because trying to do something this big, with power this small, is a fool’s errand.

And I am a fool, make no mistake. Much of this will involve handyman stuff, practical knowledge, which I’m not known for in any circle. Some might say, in fact, that I don’t know dick about shit.

But it sure could be amusing. Maybe I’ll learn a few things along the way. Maybe some of it will even be helpful to you.

Join me on this fool’s errand in the days ahead. I’ll be writing about various efforts to try to turn the Great Ship o’ Global Disaster around on a small scale. I’ll document costs and time involved whenever possible.

I’m going to start by figuring out how to make a drafty old house, the house that my fiancee and I bought last year, into something a little friendlier to both wallet and planet. (Sometimes the two benefit at the same time– whodathunk!) Tomorrow an energy rater will pay a visit to Casa Deckconnolly to tell us just how to plug up this leaky energy whore of a home. And you’ll hear all about it.

Author: Jeff Deck

Author and administrator of this site.