Did you know that the average American will consume more energy between New Year’s Eve and midnight on January 2nd than the average person from Tanzania consumes in a full year?
(Turning off the upstairs lights now…)
I’m borrowing this stat from environmentalist and writer Bill McKibben, who spoke in my community today. McKibben, author of The End of Nature, is an amazing leader promoting action on global climate change. I didn’t even know he was in town until I saw a tiny little blurb in the newspaper while I was having my coffee. I threw on my jeans and flew out of the house at 8:50 to catch his 9:00 presentation.
His talk came just hours after the United Nations Conference reached its agreement on a global warming plan. McKibben discussed the earlier disagreements between the United States and the European Union over the worldwide response to climate change. Why the tension? The average European (we’re not talking about Tanzania here) uses HALF as much energy as the average American each year. Seriously…something to think about.
McKibben also wrote the introduction and annotations for a 2004 release of Henry David Thoreau’s Walden. (I’m re-reading Thoreau right now because he’s involved in a new historical novel that’s taking shape in the dark corners of my brain.) McKibben makes some great points, suggesting that Thoreau was a conservationist, if an accidental one, because he consumed so little, much like people in third world nations like Tanzania today. McKibben suggests there may be answers to our modern crisis in Thoreau’s 19th century reflections on getting by with less.
We have more than a foot of snow expected in the Champlain Valley, thanks to a big nor’easter arriving early tomorrow morning. I think it’s time to power down the computer and stereo. The idea of lighting a candle, sipping hot tea, and reading Walden sounds just about perfect.