Sorry about that heat wave: It’s all my fault

Kermit was right: It's not easy being green.

I like to think that I’m scrupulously eco-conscious — after all, I maintain a compost heap for an organic garden; I’ve switched to LED light bulbs; shop with reusable grocery bags made from recycled plastic; and most important, wait until the end of the horseshoe crab mating season to drive my ATV through tidal wetlands.

Seriously, though, forgive me, Rachel Carson, for I have sinned.

Looking back, I can now see that a multitude of transgressions have expanded my carbon footprint from that of a barely perceptible piping plover track in the sand to gigantic, fossilized impressions left in mud eons ago by brachiosaurus herds.

To work toward redemption, I began putting together a list of all the environmental crimes I’ve committed that have polluted the air, contaminated the soil and water, or changed the climate to the extent that we here in New England are now subjected to summer temperatures once common only in Borneo and French Equatorial Africa.

Following are some examples of my bad behavior that contributed to this week’s heat wave and no doubt will lead to accelerated scorched-earth conditions:

— Once, in the third grade, despite my mother’s repeated, stern admonition to close the refrigerator door, I kept it open while surreptitiously slurping from a bottle of Yoo-hoo chocolate drink.

— A few months later, after running outside to join friends for a sledding expedition, I realized I had forgotten my mittens and dashed back indoors, thoughtlessly leaving the front door ajar for several minutes, thus allowing countless BTUs of fossil-fuel-generated heat to escape while I rummaged though a bureau.

— The bananas I eat with yogurt every day for breakfast must be shipped thousands of miles from the tropics, whereas I could easily substitute native strawberries, blueberries or peaches.

— While training for a marathon one winter, I ran most of my hard workouts, including a few 20-milers, on a treadmill, consuming as much electricity as it would take to operate an arc welder.

— The kayaks I routinely paddle are fabricated either with petrochemical materials or with fabrics held together by highly toxic resins; the bike I pedal rolls on tires made from rain forest rubber.

— A few weeks ago, while visiting a friend who offered me a bottle of water, instead of flinging the plastic container disdainfully on the floor while launching a detailed, self-righteous denunciation of why drinking anything other than tap water is — as I once put it — akin to clubbing baby seals, I graciously accepted the bottle and meekly drank the entire contents.

— I’ve flown and driven thousands of miles to climb mountains in the Himalayas, Alps and Andes, as well as to paddle rivers in Utah, Alaska and other Western states, when I could have saved enormous quantities of fuel by sticking closer to home.

Come to think of it, all this chasing around I do — hiking, running, kayaking, biking — selfishly burns way more energy than if I simply sat on a couch and read a book or took up a sedentary hobby such as needlepoint or calligraphy. Maybe I could change the name and mission of this column to The Great Indoors and really help save the planet.



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