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Bullcrap Detector: Sustainable Vacation

Dear Thinker:


There are a lot of feel-good words that are synonymous with "bullcrap."  Examples include "fairness," "social justice," "community," "coexist," and "diversity."  They are used to connote how sensitive, caring and open-minded the speaker is, but are essentially meaningless expressions and are certainly not quantifiable.


The most bullcrap of all is "sustainable."  It is used by the sanctimonious to show that they want to save the planet, don't want to emit carbon, and don't waste non-renewable energy.  Often, though, the users are full of bullcrap and do the exact opposite of what the word connotes.


A case in point is a story that appeared today in my hometown newspaper, written by AP reporter Lynn Dombek.  She bragged about her family's vacation to Costa Rica, which she described as "environmentally sustainable tourism."


Dombek didn't say what US city the seven family members departed from, so let's assume they departed from New York City, since that's their hometown (of course).  Based on that assumption, they spewed about two tons of carbon dioxide per person into the atmosphere over the 4,500-mile roundtrip, or 14 tons for all seven of them.  In comparison, the average car produces about 3.5 tons of CO2 over a year of traveling 12,000 miles. 


Upon arrival in Costa Rica, the seven members of the hypocrite family didn't walk, bike or paddle to their destination.  They traveled in a van for three hours.  Once at their resort destination, they could rent golf carts or ATVs to get around instead of walking.  And they didn't have to eat berries or insects, since an expensive nearby restaurant catered meals.


This is Dombek's, definition of "sustainable?"


I'd like to hear her definition of "big phony."


Compared to Dumbchick, er, Dombek, my wife and I are misers when it comes to CO2.  We typically spend our vacation days in Tucson, which is 110 miles from our home in Scottsdale.  Our compact car uses about four gallons of gas to get there.  It does not have an environmental bumper sticker on its rear, although I used to head up a large environmental group. 


Not surprisingly, given human nature, many professed environmentalists are two-faced, having one face they show in public and another they show at home.  For instance, I know scores of drivers of Priuses who not only live in large homes but also do not save energy in one of the simplest and most effective ways possible--that is, they don't hang clothes up to dry on a clothesline in the sun, which is a time-tested use of solar energy.  Instead, they expend CO2 by using a gas or electric dryer, which on average, produces 4.4 pounds of CO2 per load.  That's because it's a lot easier and more noticeable to drive a Prius than to hang clothes on a clothesline.


Hmm, I wonder if Al Gore hangs his boxer or briefs to dry in the sun in the front yard of one of his mansions.  On second thought, maybe hanging clothes on a clothesline isn't such a good idea. 


Craig Cantoni

The Bullcrap Detector

Because 90% of what you hear and read is bullcrap.