IS THE CORONA VIRUS A SPANKING FROM MOTHER EARTH?
Not a month ago I finished writing and was ready to publish a workbook called THE GASOLINE DIET: Drive Less, Walk More, Save the Planet (www.gasolinediet.com). In it I drew people’s attention to the fact that for every mile we drive, we leave behind a pound of CO2. Yes. Go to the store and back, church and back, work and back—there is always a return trip—doctor’s appointment—you name it—you leave behind about a pound of CO2. Using less gasoline—like 50% less gasoline was the only way to stop global warming! And we need to do it now!
That adds up. The sum total of our week of driving around is probably a tank of gasoline. We fill our tank with, say, 15 gallons of gasoline. Every gallon we then burn leaves behind 20 pounds of CO2. (Look this up on eia.gov: search for gasoline/20 pounds. A very nice page of chemical equations will lead you to this formula of 20 pounds per gallon. The pound a mile is my math. Look in my workbook for that math. EPA did it in grams, but who thinks in grams? We are oriented to pounds.)
Yes, every gallon we burn leaves behind 20 pounds of CO2 which we then dribble out at about a pound a mile. Bigger car? More than a pound a mile. Smaller car? Less than a pound a mile. By the time we have burned those 15 gallons, we have left behind 300 pounds of CO2 to add to the overhead vault we call our atmosphere. This accumulated effect is what we call the greenhouse effect as the increasing particles trap heat in the atmosphere and making it warmer and causing the climate itself to change.
Those fine particles hang in the atmosphere like books in the library of our hopes and dreams.
How long they stay there we don’t know, but the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has grown by 50% in the last hundred years, we are told by people who count such things. If we burn a tank of gasoline a week, that adds up to 15,600 pounds or 7.8 tons of CO2 from us each year—more from some of us and less from others. Even if we don’t drive at all, city services like bus, fire, police, snow removal account for a pound of CO2 a day for each citizen, which is still a pile of black ash on our behalf figuratively sitting on our driveways—365 pounds a year for each member of our families? Per household? That’s a busload of C02.
All that has become moot, however, since we have been forced to stay home. And walk more. And lose pounds of CO2 every day. I proposed that we each might lose 20 lbs a week by burning one less gallon a tank. I was modestly hopeful we might cut back just a gallon a week without disrupting our lives too much and over the course of 10 years wean ourselves from the gas pump. The change from gasoline-powered vehicles to other fuels is imperative. Now I see I was undemanding in my vision and timid in my goal.
Who knew we could stop the whole merry-go-round and get off it? I am delirious with gratitude that we can now keep 20 pounds a gallon out of the atmosphere by staying home. I am thrilled my work is so spot on I personally pleaded for this event! This is exactly what the earth needed, so much so, I can’t help wondering if the corona virus isn’t a good old-fashioned spanking from Mother Earth. She couldn’t get our attention any other way so she did what she had to do and stopped us in our tracks! (We’ll discuss at another time whether the Earth is alive as an entity, has a consciousness and can administer a spanking if she so chooses. Get ready!)
No shots fired. No tanks in the street. The whole physical infrastructure intact! Who could have even imagined we could make that happen? In less than a month? This will be the pause that saves the planet—if we let it.
Of course, we are paying a dreadful and indiscriminate price in human deaths and trauma for this abrupt stop. But the good news is our electronic world infrastructure serves our needs very well. We have hardly skipped a beat in supplying our non-medical needs, thanks to the electronic delivery system available. And people are out walking everywhere and practicing just what I wrote about: The Gasoline Diet: Drive Less, Walk More, Save the Planet. Thank you. I’ll take that bow!
We will likely keep most of this stay-in-place lifestyle because it works! So much less stress and friction will propel us toward creating new ways of getting our system to deliver what we need, we will complete those circuits in no time. And we may even realize we can stop climate change in its tracks.
Our future has arrived. We unpack it daily: It will be an electronic village.