Alan Weisman, journalist and author, discusses how we can make a change in the environment and lead greener lives.
Read the full transcript »
[Music Playing] Sure, there are lots of things that we can do. One thing I was asked that question once right when my book first came out, I was given a book signing in Denver, and I was asked to speak to a group of young democrats -- actually, does not matter because I will speak to anybody and the same thing happens that both their meetings. You go and this is young professionals who have now had a party allegiance and not only that they show up for this meetings but also -- I did not realize this but we get this sort of fringe of candidates standing at the back of the room. Well, I want to meet this people and glad hand them and get to know them and get their votes. So at one point, one of the young democrats says you know what can we do now to make things better? And it is just pop into my head because I talked in the book about how all these plastic is escaping and most of plastic is used for food packaging. And also an expert explained to me that even paper when we burned our land fields, it does not biodegrade right away because if there is no oxygen there, they can read newspapers a hundred years old at the bottom of land fills. So I replied this guy, well her is something you can do. Turn around and ask all these people. I am pointing at these candidates behind them that if they are elected to the Colorado legislature, will they promise to introduce a bill making it a crime to give away a free bag in a Colorado supermarket? And that struck everybody as it really a great idea. In a sense, that would be something that would not be so hard to do because plastic did not end to the mainstream until before World War II, to right after World War II. So back then, our grandmothers when they went to the market, they carried this bag and they filled it up with everything that they bought, and they did not have to put the cucumbers in one plastic and onions at the separate plastic bag, etcetera like we do now. I mean but the flavors would not mix. You know they take it home, they dump it out and then they bring the same bag back over and over and again. That is not a really hard change and I have noticed it, you know this is one of these kinds of spontaneous occurrences that seem to simultaneously appear in a lot of cultures all over the world. Suddenly is happening in everywhere. Lots of grocery chains, the entire country of Ireland is instituted in this policy that if you want a bag, you have to buy it and that is terrific. That is one thing that we could be doing now to really, really help. There are ways that we could be savings so much energy even in Northern Climbs. If every single flat rooftop had solar collectors on it just to heat the water which is cheap technology, we would be saving 20 to 25% of the energy demands on every single building. In the Southwest where I have lived a lot and where I am currently teaching at the University of Arizona, I teach there once a year. They still-- the architects still think that buildings should be built with that depends solar and air conditioning or solar in heating and so they build these buildings with windows that cannot be open. And it is amazing, they do this a lot, and that is crazy. Most of the year, you can open the windows and you do not have to have some pump and some compressor that is circulating air in using energy. So, I do not go on and buy all these stuff in my book, lots of other peoples books are about this and my intention for this book was not to make people feel guilty about what we are doing right now. I wanted them to -- I want to just clear the decks of us so that they can see how nice things would go if we would stop doing it. But yes, I think there are a lot of things we could and we have to try doing them all. [Music Playing]