a boots-on-the-ground view of the change that's a-foot

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

It starting raining – hard – in the middle of the night. I’m now trained to hear it through a sound sleep – like I am a cat’s meow or a dog’s whine. I was up and out with the dogs before daylight – anxious to put on a heavy-duty raincoat for the first time in months and feel the cold drops hitting my face. Me and the mutts, taking advantage of the holiday school break, went a few blocks to the school yard to run around and play ball. It was 38 degrees, dark gray and the rain was steadily coming. It was glorious – the best holiday gift I could imagine, after 9 months of drought in NC.

Not much could dampen my joy, even the sound, smell and sight of a huge – I mean, really really big, McMansion-style RV sitting in the what should have been an empty parking lot. I smelled it first – the idling engine rumbling, as it had probably done throughout the night. As the darkness lifted, I noticed that there was a satellite dish sitting on top. Sigh. Never leave home without – um, everything – ?

The dogs noticed nothing, of course – and continued to run in circles, huge dog smiles on their faces. I threw up my arms in surrender. Together, we ran across the road towards a small farm to visit the friendly, grass-fed cows, and bring apples to the new goat in the next pasture. Like the fuzzy cows, we were all pleasantly steamy, my good-mood rescued by standing in the Winter rain, the carbon-emitting, monstrosity all but forgotten. All but forgotten…

I couldn’t help myself, when I returned home, I looked up some emissions statistics on Simple Green Options.

Total Emissions Per Vehicle
SUV (15mpg) – 2.29 lbs/mi
Average Car (25 mpg) – 1.39 lbs/mi
Prius (55 mpg) – .61 lbs/mi
Motorcycle – .57 lbs/mi
RV – 4.58 lbs/mi

Total Emissions Per Person
Average Car/Single Driver – 1.39 lbs/mi
Average Car/Family of 4 – .34 lbs/mi
Train – .32 lbs/mi
Bus – .48 lbs/mi
Plane (250 mi trip) – .85 lbs/mi**
Plane (600 mi) – .69 lbs/mi**
Plane (3500 mi) – .56 lbs/mi**

I’m not against practical RVs or campers. When used responsibly for long-distance travel, they are, by the look of these figures, more environmentally friendly than flying, especially if you are toting along an entire family. And if you’re making your R.V. living a full-time gig, you’re most likely making a smaller environmental footprint than the average household.

Unfortunately, many RVs are bigger – much bigger – than they need to be, equipped with every convenience imaginable, travel with only 2 passengers and are part of a luxury lifestyle that includes another large home and additional vacation or business travel by air. Pretty big “feet”.

It’s Noon and it’s still raining. I’m happy and filled with hope for the new year – a hope that we will all take a more holistic look at how we live and how we affect the planet and the lives of others with our choices. And that we will all feel as grateful as I do right now, for the blessings of nature instead of the blessings of material wealth.

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One Response to “”

  1. phyllis diehl Says:

    dear trace, only you can write beautiful and poetic about rain. i appreciated your words so much, and i felt the love you have for the meaning of rain. and of course the love you have the the outdoors, and for your wonderful dogs. thanks for your words.

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