Wednesday, May 14, 2008

PAT Brown Kids.

Is it possible to have green kids? No. AT (Affluence x Technology), the emissions in PAT, P for population, causes a problem.

Two examples-

We live by transit, two blocks from El Camino and four blocks from Ralston. We own two cars. My wife drives one to work- she can take transit to Cupertino, her work has a shuttle from the MountainView train station, but needs the hours to finish her work past when the shuttle runs. The other is a backup for emergency- a dubious proposition since Merit Taxi runs an efficient service here in Belmont. We don’t sell it because we can afford to keep it. But the kids know we have the car. They will refuse to go places on their bus passes and want to get driven or picked up.

And we are not talking miles here. Carlmont is 1.2 miles away. Ralston is 2.2 miles. I can bike there and pick them up on our tandem if they gave me adequate notice or hung out with their friends. But they will say they have homework or something and must be picked up in five minutes and my wife will agree.

By affording to compromise and let the technology into our lives we have turned them into brown instead of green kids. And the city accommodates us with wide streets, free curb parking, unrestricted connections across El Camino and Caltrans and over Hallmark at 50 mph, and a mandated requirement for a two car garage- the infrastructure we build without regard for emissions.

We have three showers because we can afford to have three showers. The result is that the kids expect privacy and will get into a screaming fight over who is in “their” bathroom. They don’t clean or pick up in “their” bathroom- privacy doesn’t extend that far. They also will not conserve water or paper- not their green problem either. But a space, heated and cooled and cleaned with chemicals, just themselves behind a closed door is an essential expectation. OK its solar hot water heated and on a northern wall with a window for cooling and we use vinegar to clean, but still, can't you see the infrastructure for emissions and the expectations that are bred into browning the kids?

One of the principle characters in the Poisonwood Bible, a teacher, is talking to an American child, in a village in the Congo, and is disbelieving when he hears, that their family owns two cars in America. Why he asks, one is sufficient for a whole village and can go pick up supplies for everyone once a week?

AT leads to emissions. Indirectly it threatens the kids since they could be called on to fight another pocketbook war for another Cheney that transfers another $2T to another set of Exxons. But try and make them see that. Once A brings T into our lives there are no rules on usage that can apply even if grandma gets run over by a thirteen year old.

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