Bryan began a carbon diet yesterday and will be blogging about his experiences all week.
I don’t even play golf, but I think I should call a mulligan. I know that doesn’t follow official PGA rules, but work with me here.
mul·li·gan (ml-gn): NOUN: A golf shot not tallied against the score, granted in informal play after a poor shot especially from the tee.
Day 1 was complicated. A good friend and colleague of mine, Ben Jordan, who runs our Supplier Sustainability Program, also teaches a Green Business course at Emory University, which is based in the East side of Atlanta. I had agreed to serve as a guest lecturer last night. I joined two other panelists and we had a lively discussion on topics ranging from hydraulic fracturing to U.N. climate policy – you had to be there to appreciate it.
The key learning for me is that low-carbon commutes require advance planning. Getting to/from Emory proved more challenging than I anticipated. I should have planned earlier; but on Sunday night, when I started figuring out how I was going to get there, I found myself both unfamiliar with the MARTA bus routes (Atlanta’s public transit system) around Emory and reluctant to add additional bus transfers to get from Emory to the MARTA train station. After all, the class wasn’t scheduled to end until 9 p.m. and I wasn’t sure how long it would take to get home with the multi-segment commute since I live about 20 miles North of the city.
Then I had almost figured out how I could pick up a Zipcar near one of the rail stations to use to/from Emory and still be able to use public transport for most of the journey. That plan collapsed when I realized my Zipcar account had expired.
Net, net, I ended up driving both to my office and to Emory for the class. And, full-disclosure, I even had to drive my wife’s car (an SUV sized to transport our full family) instead of my smaller, fuel-efficient Sonata Hybrid. Please let me explain. My wife had shoulder surgery four weeks ago. She’s out of the brace and undergoing physical therapy. And she’s perfectly capable of driving (with her left arm) – but she hasn’t rebuilt enough strength in her right arm to turn the key to start her car. My hybrid has push button start, so I needed to leave it home for her.
Not only was I unable to adapt to public transport. My emissions were around 50% higher than “usual” because of these unique circumstances. Life seems to be getting in the way of my plans.
Just to salvage a shred of credibility from Day 1, I will report that I had a conscious pause in our cafeteria and chose the Veggie Burger wrap for lunch. I haven’t compared the carbon footprint of that variety to the fried chicken variety I probably would have chosen otherwise, but I am confident it was lower.
That lunch choice is certainly not going to prevent “dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system” – especially if I can’t find better commute options. But the point of this exercise is to make conscious choices. And I guess the “guilt” that I’m feeling from some of yesterday’s choices may be a step in the right direction.
By the way, I should note that today is already starting better. I walked my youngest son (and our dog) to the bus stop this morning. It’s only a quarter mile (400 meters) but it is rather routine for me to drive him up there (school is too far away to walk to it or we would have). And I am working from home today with no commute at all. I’ll report on this and my other activities today in tomorrow’s post, but things are already looking up.
Bryan Jacob is Climate
Protection Director at The