June 25, 2006

sincerity is the new irony


I don't ask anything of you, I really don't. I've been writing in this space for 4 1/2 years now, through my nervous breakdown, my marriage proposal, nuptials, birth of my first born, various book and magazine ideas - and hopefully, given a place for all of you to leave comments, reconnect, disagree and socialize.

In the beginning when I had no money, my brother Steve and I talked about putting ads on the site, a method used by Dooce, Atrios, the Instapundit and a lot of others. Some people, like Salon, have a subscription-based service. You may think this blog isn't worth ads, nor a subscriber fee, and I agree: I almost never show my tits.

But now I'm asking something of you - all of you, whether you're my good friends, blog acquaintances, or merely lurkers who visit my humble site. All I request is that you DO ONE THING. Make fun of me all you want, but you must pick one thing mentioned in this blog to help negate your share of global warming.

Yes, I know what I sound like. Yes, I realize it's not 1966 and there's no spiritual movement afoot. But the crisis we're in is not funny anymore, it's not cute, it's not clever. Global warming due to human interference is REAL, it's HERE, and all of us bear partial responsibility. I am not going to link to articles proving it's true, I will not provide PDFs of what is happening to Greenland this summer. You don't have to do any of the research. I'm just saying that if you want to keep reading this site, please, please just DO ONE THING.

Pick any one thing from the following list:

1. Replace at least four bulbs in your house with the new compact fluorescent bulbs. You can get them almost anywhere, but here is an excellent place. The new ones are warm and yellow, not the old bright white ones of the past. Replacing just four bulbs can cost as low as twelve bucks and stops 1,200 pounds of carbon from going into the atmosphere.

2. Zero-carbon your car. For $29.92, you can go to CarbonFund.org and negate your car's impact on the Earth. You can choose to do much more, but negating an average American car stops 12,000 pounds of CO2.

3. Offset your travel. Just go to the Native Energy site and calculate your total travel/vacation time, and it'll tell you how much to offset. For around $25 (average) you can keep your 1.7 tons of recreational CO2 out of the atmosphere and have tons of fun playing craps in Vegas.

4. Switch your local power provider to a green solution. This is so easy it's amazing. Just call your local power company and ask for what "green" solutions they offer. Most will tell you right off the bat, and it's barely more expensive. If you're having trouble finding what's available in your area, just go here.

5. Plant one tree. Absorbs one ton of CO2. Self-explanatory.

That's it, lurkers and readers. You have two weeks to do any of the above; that's the only thing I ask of you in these almost five years of uninterrupted joy. If there is something else you're about to do that is on par with the above, please share in the comments section.

I will not tolerate discussion about whether or not global warming is happening, or if humans are causing it. I've already given plenty of space on other entries for those opinions, and I'm done. And in advance, I apologize for sounding like an asshole, or someone who knows better than you, or that I have some kind of purchase on the future that others do not.

In my heart, this is the greatest threat we have ever faced, it's happening in our lifetime, right now, and if I had this public forum and did nothing, then I will truly have been a worthless sack of shit. If you choose to keep reading this site, there will be an unspoken pact between you, personally, and me, that you did something listed above. From all I have gleaned over the years, you are all an amazing group of people, and I thank you for the indulgence.

Posted by Ian Williams at June 25, 2006 10:21 PM
Posted by: ken at June 26, 2006 2:15 AM

Done. my wife and I planted a number of trees on our property within the last month. I'm also looking into buying a Honda Civic hybrid in the next month or so. We also use the compact flourescent bulbs where possible.

Hopefully there's plenty in there for caveman to make fun of.

Posted by: Bangkok Expat Mama at June 26, 2006 4:19 AM

caveman makes fun of common sense? i thought he just adds a note of levity ("i love beer") when things get a bit hot 'n' bothered around here.

i've already done #1. i will do #s 2 and 3 tonight, especially in light of impending homeleave (i.e. flying from asia to the states; flying roundtrip between dc and florida; driving all over creation to catch up with loved ones). thatsa lottta co2, eh?

a few more posts like this from influential bloggers, and we just might save this gorgeous, spinning blue marble we call "home".

Posted by: Laurie from Manly Dorm at June 26, 2006 4:48 AM

My blogcrush on you and your family continues! Considering all of the hours of entertainment, drama, laughs and chatter that your blog has provided to me, I will be happy to do any of the above. Keep the requests coming. . .

P.S.: your blog is definitely ad or subscription worthy!

Posted by: alan at June 26, 2006 5:35 AM

I have planted about a dozen trees in the past couple of months, including 4 fruit trees at my in-laws earlier this month. Not sure if I believe the global warming theory but I think this meets your requirements.

Posted by: joe q. at June 26, 2006 5:39 AM

I disagree with you on almost every issue, except this one. Human consumption is making the earth warmer. Whether, or when, the present warming will be reversed by natural forces beyond our control, I don't know. I am aware of and take advantage of most of the items on your list. As a consumer, I also try to avoid buying tons of disposable crap made in the far east.

Posted by: emma at June 26, 2006 5:49 AM

"DO ONE THING. Make fun of me all you want,"

At first reading, I thought we commenters were going to get to make fun of you all day. Oh well, I will endeavor to accomplish at least one item on the list even though we really weren't asked to make fun of you.

Posted by: mcf at June 26, 2006 6:04 AM

agree with joe q. i think i might be on the opposite side of the political spectrum from the majority of readers [and ian!], but i wholeheartedly agree with ian that issues affecting the future of our environment are oh, so real...

and, i truly believe that the "next" generation of politicians is AWARE of this and will aim to make their mark doing something about it... [al gore as just the most obvious example... i mean certain, moderate republicans, too!!]

so there IS hope, i hope -- but we have to be sure that each of us is part of the solution! so, thanks to ian for the challenge!!

ps-did anyone see tom friedman's special on discovery [i think] this weekend--addicted to foreign oil? nothing out-of-this-world-new, if you follow these things, but some interesting thots about solar/wind/organically grown power --and how viable each of these are -- that make it worth watching if you can catch it in re-run...

and who can resist tom friedman, really. [haha]

Posted by: Angela at June 26, 2006 6:25 AM

Another suggestion for readers: Go see Gore's documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth." It spells it all out. (I'm sure you've seen it....)

Posted by: Theo at June 26, 2006 6:54 AM

When they insist on knowing my bliss
I tell them this
When they want to know what the reason is
I only smile when I lie, then I tell them why
(Because your kiss) your kiss is on my list
(Because your kiss) your kiss is on my list
Because your kiss is on my list of the best things in life

[comment edited by Moderator]

Posted by: kevin from NC at June 26, 2006 6:58 AM

I planted a tree yesterday.
I ordered a Honda Fit last week that more than doubles the mileage of my current vehicle.

Posted by: CL at June 26, 2006 7:27 AM

OK, I'll do one (probably the light bulbs).

And you can put ads on this site all ya want.

And baby...remember...
It's your blog, and you'll do what you want
It's your blog, and you'll do what you want
Tell me I'm wrong
Hurt me sometimes
But some days you treat us real fine.

Posted by: Lara at June 26, 2006 7:33 AM

I decided to do #1 after seeing An Incovenient Truth and will now be inspired by this posting to do #2. I contacted Chicago's power company (ComEd, now owned by Exelon) to see why they don't offer any green power options. Of course, I have not yet received a response.

I also just made a monthly pledge to Environment Illinois, a group dedicated to fighting global warming locally. Not sure if there are similar groups in other states, but I'm guessing there are.

Posted by: Tamara at June 26, 2006 9:14 AM

After watching "An Inconvenient Truth" I immediately switched to green power with the electric company. Thanks for the other resources, I'll be looking into the zero carbon thing for my car.

Posted by: Bud at June 26, 2006 11:07 AM

Ian, did you also see An Inconvenient Truth this weekend? I saw it last night and have been thinking similar thoughts.

I really like this entry. This is exactly what was missing from the movie (unless you count the closing credits) -- tangible, practical suggestions on how to make things better.

Carbon negating and travel offsetting (#s 2 & 3) are great idea. Those will be my additional actions (I already bicycle/train commute, recycle semi-religiously and have used nothing but compact fluorescent bulbs for the past several years).

Now if we can just convince a few more folks (i.e. 98% of the population)....

Posted by: DFB's&T's at June 26, 2006 12:07 PM

This whole global warming debate should not be so mind-numbing. I don't know the truth.


Posted by: Matt at June 26, 2006 12:55 PM

Since Ian wrote that he wouldn't tolerate discussion today, which is his right, I'll ignore the Algore references for the sake of comity and dutifully note that I'm in compliance with the pact (except the part about it being an unspoken one, which few others are observing either).

Hey, it took me two hours to get work today because of flooding and mudslides. I think I know where to lay the blame!

Posted by: Beth at June 26, 2006 12:56 PM

My husband, an architectural lighting designer, has been on the compact-fluorescent bandwagon for years--since well before the bulbs made appealing light (which they do now, I'm happy to report). He's switched over most of our bulbs as well as those in our building's common spaces. We drive about once a week, on average, but I'm heading over right this minute to negate our upcoming car trip. Thanks, Ian! And for the record, I'd subscribe or click on ads without hesitation, if you ever decided to go that route.

Posted by: Beth at June 26, 2006 1:10 PM

p.s. I'd bookmarked Con Ed's green-power website (http://www.poweryourway.com/pages/green.html) when you mentioned it a while back. Glad you brought it up again so I was reminded to go through with it.

Posted by: CP at June 26, 2006 1:51 PM

please only show your tits to your wife. that's all I ask. other than that, at least one henceforth unspoken thing on this end has just been accounted for. good for you.

Posted by: Beth one more time at June 26, 2006 1:57 PM

(sorry to be so chatty today)

An article from Real Simple on cutting energy costs, with other small ways to help:


Posted by: JC at June 26, 2006 2:19 PM

Per your request...A and I just had a spending spree at the OSH and came home with a cute little clemenine tree we're putting in the backyard. Or is it a tangelo? Either way, that's the only kind of hybrid I can afford right now! I'm jumping on the lightbulb bandwagon, too, because I live at the OSH anyway.

Posted by: Ian at June 26, 2006 2:19 PM

No, the "unspoken" thing was for all future visits to this site. As for what folks are doing now, I'd LOVE to hear about it.

Posted by: Annie at June 26, 2006 3:10 PM

Ion, I am going to review for further opportunities to lessen my environamental impact, but I will announce here that I recently purchased a diesel Volks which I am running on 100% biodiesel at this writing. I know that there are questions about biodiesel's overall atmospheric effect (nitrogen?? help me out here) but it can't be bad to be getting off fossil fuels. Moreover, us folks in the Triangle who are "going bio" have the plus of supporting a totally local sustainable fuel source. Thanks be to the excellent people at Piedmont Biofuels!!


Posted by: oliver at June 26, 2006 3:40 PM

I've made our rental house 100% compact flourescent, and we use fans more than AC. Haven't been able buy green power where we live, but if the next vote goes well we'll be buying it from the independent supplier in our neighboring county for less than (fucking) PG&E bills us for their mostly dirty brown energy. I don't know about the tree planting though. I thought President Reagan taught us that trees cause pollution....

Posted by: oliver at June 26, 2006 4:04 PM

O.K., and as of now we're reforesting to the tune of $8.25 per month through Carbonfund.org with an extra 5 tons of CO2 being sucked away for free by Working Assets under some matching program now going on. Thanks for the spur, Ian.

Posted by: oliver at June 26, 2006 4:06 PM

Oh, and I'm also on a diet. Fewer calories in, less CO2 out.

Posted by: oliver at June 26, 2006 4:13 PM

Not to mention that diet relies a lot on organic foods. "Organic farming approaches...not only use an average of 30 percent less fossil energy but....soil carbon in the organic systems increased by 15 to 28 percent, the equivalent of taking about 3,500 pounds of carbon dioxide per hectare out of the air."


Posted by: Neva at June 26, 2006 6:57 PM

Will definitely do - been meaning to.
To add to Oliver's comment, we have joined a CSA farm this summer which has been awesome! Organic, healthy veggies delivered to our door weekly from a local farm. Can't be it. Highly recommend it for you folks from NC (and I'm sure there are others like it around).. Here's ours..

Posted by: chris_wyatt at June 26, 2006 7:47 PM

I encourage anyone to read this, Senate testimony on climate change by the director of the research insitute in Fairbanks where I worked for 10 years:

Chris (Sparky) Wyatt

Posted by: Betsy at June 27, 2006 8:49 AM

When you posted the ConEd 'Power Your Way' link a while back, I clicked on it--the whole process took just a few minutes. And my electric bill hasn't increased at all! Thanks for the info and encouragement.

Posted by: Alyson Peery at June 27, 2006 9:06 AM

Will be glad to do my part. Thanks for writing this blog.

Posted by: Claudia at June 27, 2006 12:15 PM

My two cents: it's amazing how many people, bumper-sticker hippies included, don't observe basic recycling rules. Recycling is worth doing regardless of one's feelings about global warming. The recycling rules are admittedly slightly complex in NYC, but very much worth learning. Chris M and I have three bins set up--one for trash, one for paper, and one for plastics. Sorting as you go makes it incredibly easy to recycle. Not only does recycling save energy, but it reduces waste and saves landfill space. At the end of the week, it makes me feel good to see the tangible proof of how much stuff we're keeping out of the landfills.

Posted by: xuxE at June 27, 2006 4:34 PM

if y'all think recycling is a hassle you will not survive in Japan. you need a friggin chemistry degree to figure out which type of trash container to put your shit in. the complexity alone is enough to make you not want to buy crap in plastic packaging, because you will be forced to determine later which little bits of the packageare are burnable, recyclable, etc...

but anyway, one thing i do that i'm not sure was mentioned is public transportation. no car commute for me, bus/bike/train to work every day for many many years.

Posted by: Chris M at June 28, 2006 6:32 AM

I'm a little tardy but I want to let you know that over a few summers of volunteer work doing forestry restoration on Saturday mornings in Prospect Park I planted at least a thousand trees. And a lot of bushes and wild flowers, too. I'm sure you've seen them all over the park, especially those along The Ravine. I mostly take the subway and rarely drive my Camry so I am probably way ahead of most Americans and probably many Europeans in my consumption/production. I will explore the option of purchasing carbon credits and purchasing green power to see if it truly makes a difference. If it does, I would probably make changes there, too.

Posted by: Claverack Weekender at June 28, 2006 6:20 PM

+ Moved to a city where we collectively drive 10% of what I did living in NYC. Also a warmer climate requiring less heating in winter.
+ Got green electricity.
+ Bought 100 acres of farmland and let trees grow, i.e. reforest. Whole pile of trees growing.
- Bought a huge fucking SUV. But hey, you can't win 'em all.

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