Bumbastories returns to our friend and alter ego, George Packard, as we consider the concept of our “carbon footprint”.
George Packard, retired schoolteacher, tried to keep his carbon footprint light.
He walked a lot. He barely used the car. He rode his bicycle, took the bus. He composted everything. He saved water and electricity fastidiously.
He felt he needed to contribute somehow to the well-being of the planet, or at least to try to not make things worse. But simultaneously he was also making a contribution to his own individual physical health and well-being.
George Packard was healthy, and he loved to walk.
Often in his life he had walked out of loneliness, out of nothing else to do. Those “walking it off” walks through the wet streets had sustained him. The act of walking was soothing.
He was walking now.
In the rain again.
His students back at LA High had always enjoyed his “carbon footprint lesson”. The kids could never quite believe it at first. It was a hard concept for them to wrap their brains around at first. But it was demonstrably true. People just used too much energy, too much of everything. Paper, water, gasoline, electricity. George would show them photos of large heaps of charcoal: the amount of carbon that each individual uses each year. The average American household caused to be released 48 tons of carbon – in the form of CO2 into the atmosphere – each year, five times the world average! This CO2 was increasing the temperature of the earth. The numbers were truly amazing. They were ugly, horrifying.
It needed to stop. This burning of all the vegetation. This scouring of the oil deposits and minerals in the earth’s upper crust. What? Was the human species to eat its way down into the inferno at the center of the planet? Were they to flood all the coastal areas and tear up all the land? Was it already too late to turn back the tide?
“Perhaps it’s not too late,” thought George Packard, retired schoolteacher, as he walked on through the drizzling mist.