Matt’s Response

March/04/2008 3:14AM
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Please refer to the 2-27-08 entry re: my nephew Matt. Matt sent the following response. These are his words, so no quotes, just verbatim.

Great to read your stuff and be inspired to think. I hope you get lots of readers-from both schools of thought. It should be required reading for your grandkids-if nothing else than to push them to keep and eye toward the future. I sure hope your grandkid’s generation realizes what a  bunch of crap gets fed to them by pop media. There certainly needs to be more people thinking in the ways you espouse.

As any hippie earth child would be, I’m flattered to be favorably compared to that dude who invented the internet. (Gore)I have heretofore kept quiet my confidence that I can probably do more one-armed pull-ups than he can, or make better cowboy coffee on a glacier. Honestly, though, the only true environmentalists are people you or I probably never heard of, people who are both living fully off the grid AND actually contributing to society. Somewhere in their number are some remarkable role models . They aren’t hippies, they don’t live in Hollywood, Washington, Boulder, or Berkeley, and they aren’t on TV crying over crushed flowers. I bet some might even be Republicans. That’s who your grandkids should meet.

As expected, I would be slow to agree with some of your points, particularly the suggestions to increase energy production via nuclear and , to a lesser degree, non-renewable in all those places the hippies are going to cry to you about. However, I do agree with your general suggestion that the hippies are too damned busy hugging trees while China is on the way with their chain saws and a middle class that grows to a billion strong in part because they handled their hippies with tanks instead of hugs. American’s time is nearly up and you’re spot- on right that PRC’s p/e potential looks good-but wouldn’t Scandinavia be a nicer place to live in 2050? (PRC is People’s Republic of China)

My own tree-hugging instinct remains, and I try to be aware of my own impact-but I’ve grown to be quite pessimistic on the big picture, particularly in the past year or two. Why bother waiting for the bus to save a few grams of CO2 emission when there a billion people now very very close to being able to buy their first car and eager to burn all the gas their hard-earned renmenbi can buy? Even here in Taiwan, which in some ways I consider to be a kinder, gentler, mini indicator of where the PRC is heading, I see an entire generation of people buying the first car in their family’s history, and it’s often a Benz, and they have  honestly never even heard the the concept that you’re not supposed to leave the engine idling while you spend 4 hours in the restaurant, and gas at $4 or $40 isn’t’ gonna slow them because they made a zillion selling micro chips to drive the world’s electronics.  For every person here, there are 50 on the mainland , far more aggressive, and environmental awareness is best described as….well, I’m not even sure there’s a Chinese word for it, and I know some Chinese words. ( note:He is fluent in Chinese)

The PRC’s middle class is going to smother the US, the ozone layer, the Amazon, the polar ice caps, and the ANWR in the process. It kills me emotionally to think of the earth’s condition in 50 years but I”m selfishly grateful there’s still a Yosemite, some Alps, and an as-yet unpaved little beach in Thailand surrounded by limestone wall and visited each winter by a couple hundred people who think like me. I’m glad these things are probably going to survive my time on this planet, but I feel so sorry for future generations who either won’t have the ability to enjoy them(because they’re struggling citizens of the United States Special Autonomous Region of the PRC or their more well-to-do countrymen(/comrades), who won’t know that such places shouldn’t be paved, mined, drilled, and concreted over, because they’re Chinese and that’s what Chinese do.

Anyway, I’ve still got more reading to do, so keep writing. I haven’t yet got to the part where you start talking about the future of solar, but I’m looking forward to  it. Some brilliant young kid in a research lab somewhere is designing battery technology to enable solar to save the world, right? What currency is his salary issued in, I wonder? 

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