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Confessions of a Disgraced Driver


In the post-Inconvenient Truth world, there is a certain amount of guilt that comes with driving a car and taking a bath and turning on lights.
Guilt is the new ignorance. Playing dumb or indifferent is no longer the thing to do. We know too much.

The now famous map—the one that shows the impacts of climate change on global temperatures, the one that shows  cold turning less and less cold before our very eyes, the one that shows our damnation—surely begat an ulcer or two. The images of polar bears on melting icebergs have been etched into our minds, causing our consumer confidence to melt into slushy pools of guilt every time we forget to turn off our computers. Now researchers say a group of sheep on a Scottish island are shrinking because of climate change. Yes, shrinking. How do we sleep at night knowing that our love for plastic bottles, industrial farming  and fossil fuels is causing our sheep to wither?

I feel those pangs of culpability every time I hit 75 mph on 287 on my way to work surrounded by an army of passenger-less drivers pushing their loafers and sensible work heels to the metal, Earth-killing exhaust streaming from tailpipe after tailpipe.

I know you feel it too.

There is nothing wrong with this foreign-oil-fueled guilt. Maybe, just maybe, it will eventually motivate our shame-ridden bodies to make some sacrifices.

When I say sacrifices, I mean trading in our H2s in favor of transportation that doesn’t consume as much crude oil as the entire nation of Turkmenistan. It means consuming less of everything. It means acknowledging alternatives as mainstream; embracing funny-looking vehicles, rooftop gardens and working from home; and redefining how we design, build and utilize everything from homes  and urban districts to bottles of beer and drinking water.

I recently heard someone—someone  very “green”—say that policy and regulation are the only tools that will make a difference in saving this planet. It makes sense, but it’s an uncomfortable thought: Your canvas bags are all well and good, but it’s up to lawmakers, corporate titans and world leaders to do the real work, to save the shrinking sheep.

Audible gulp.

But as legislators and governments—with hope—take the lead in making big, measurable strides in cutting carbon emissions and incentivizing sustainable practices, we gotta do something. Even if it’s just for our own peace of mind, just to prevent a few ulcers.

I’m letting my guilt lead me, which likely explains my recent fascination with dynamic ridesharing—or as I like to call it, high-tech hitchhiking. It’s like the love child of Match.com and bumming a ride from a friend. Anyone with a computer or an iPhone can stick out their digital thumb and hitch a ride wherever whenever.

How very Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

At this point, however, too few people know about sites like Carticipate, iCarpool and GoLoco for dynamic ridesharing to be considered thriving, or even plausible. I recently tried to get a ride between Erie and Fort Collins. So far, I have yet to secure anything anywhere. Though, I blame Erie for not being a midweek, early morning hot spot for the dynamic ridesharing community.

Still, I like the idea: updating a near-defunct practice into a modern, innovative mechanism for avoiding emissions. It may not be much in the big picture of cap-and-trade programs, ocean acidification and iceberg-less polar bears, true. And I still feel pretty guilty. But it’s a start.


Lacy is an award-winning food writer and blogger. She lives in Westminster with her family. Google


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