Daze of My Life: Green Without Envy

Daze of My Life: Green Without Envy

Where was I, and I don't mean literally, although I do mean rhetorically, when the memo came down about one's carbon footprint? Granted, I don't read the New York Times or The Wall Street Journal, either at home or on-line, but I am a regular subscriber to The Washington Post and I do work for a newspaper so I'm not totally clueless, or so I would have thought. Nevertheless, when was my regular programming interrupted for the special bulletin announcing the significance of, and concern with, one's carbon footprint? The dictionary doesn't even mention it so how important can it be? Carbon is listed, of course, then carbonate, carbon copy, carbon dioxide, carbon disulfide, carbonium, carbonize, carbon monoxide, carbon paper, carbon tetrachloride, but no carbon footprint.
And I'm usually good about paying attention; I've made an avocation out of it. Typically, I'm awake during meetings, and I rarely take catnips at work or on the drive home. I do listen to the radio to and from work (at least an hour's worth in each direction) and I watch television every night. Had there been some kind of public proclamation made over the airwaves or even written in print, I probably would have stumbled on to it. But I recall no such clarion-type call to the good citizens of America that we should unite one and all in the pursuit of global cooling, and environmental non-impact.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm all for respecting the environment and leaving the planet at least the same, if not better, than we found it. But shouldn't I/we have been told about it? I mean, how can I participate if I don't know anything? Am I simply supposed to know about whatever it is instinctively? Moreover, is the information somehow supposed to end up in my head as if through a Vulcan mind meld-type osmosis? Of course we all want to live long and prosper, but wouldn't it help if some of the answers were provided to those of us who allegedly may have caused the problem in the first place?
I'm not stubborn but this not knowing or the presumption that I already knew, makes me feel stupid. As Forest Gump's mama said, "Stupid is as stupid does." And right now, as I continue to hear and read about one's carbon footprint, I feel pretty stupid. Not that I'm the last one to hear about it, hardly. I feel that I'm one of many. But given the scope of the problem that scientists and environmentalists say humans are causing - and have already caused - in our pursuit of life, liberty and happiness, it seems the marketing of this issue/concept, this apparent new paradigm for our future (make that present) existence, should have been handled better.
Perhaps the proponents of the carbon footprint should contact the marketing team behind the astronomical growth and prevalence of the ever-popular gift card. Whoever those folks were, they sure did a heck of a job getting Americans to plunk down billions of dollars in gift car purchases this past Christmas so that those buyers would have to shop at specific stores, thereby forcing the consumers to spend their Christmas booty where the retailers wanted them to. Whereas gifts of cash or credit card gift-type certificates would have allowed - and enabled - consumers to buy whatever they wanted, wherever they wanted to buy it. Not so with gift cards. Gift cards take away that freedom; you have to go to the store where the gift cards are from.
Somehow, in spite of this reduction in our freedoms and constraint in our willingness to trade, we are buying these cards in record dollars. In effect, we are being told what to do and apparently, we don't seem to mind it. And if one believes the news reports, we couldn't be happier about it. Not me!
Getting back to the bigger picture, and the point of this column, if we could only get the gift card people to assist in the marketing of this carbon footprint concept, I'm sure we would all benefit in ways we can't even imagine. In fact, America would be so green; I bet we wouldn't need gift cards any more. I can hope, can't I? .

Kenneth B. Lourie is a regionally syndicated columnist who resides in Burtonsville, MD.