I was driving fast and lamenting life’s unfairness. “There are 12-step groups for drunks and druggies, smokers, porn addicts, compulsive hand washers, you name it. But what about me? Hello, my name is Odd Man Out and I’m a climate curmudgeon. It’s been eight hours since I last insulted a climate change denier. Help me, somebody.”
“I’m sorry I called you a curmudgeon,” said Swamp Rabbit, who was riding shotgun in my 2002 Vendetta. “You wanna slow down now?”
I ignored his request. “I’d be a polite, green-minded neolib if I had money in the bank. I’d use recycle bins and carbon credits. Paper bags and metal straws. Pat myself on the back and pretend I wasn’t polluting the planet like everybody else.”
A newspaper story previewing a climate summit this summer had set me off. It seems many of the countries involved in the summit have not cut their greenhouse gas emissions enough to significantly reduce climate change:
Even if countries follow through, their combined impacts would put the world on a path to achieve only a 1 percent reduction in global emissions by 2030, compared to 2010 levels. By contrast, scientists have said that emissions must fall by nearly 50 percent this decade for the world to realistically have a shot at avoiding devastating temperature rise.
We parked at Smashy’s Auto Glass on Junkyard Row in Southwest Philly, where a workman replaced my cracked windshield with an intact windshield from the lot full of junkers across the street.
“I shouldn’t even be on the road,” I said after using my debit card to pay for the glass. “How can I be pro-environment if I drive an old boneshaker?”
Swamp Rabbit shrugged. “At least she ain’t gonna fail inspection. The question is, can you afford to gas her up?”
“Haha,” I said, glaring at him. I’d paid $150 for the windshield, $1,500 for a new exhaust system the day before. Tomorrow I’ll spend another $100 or more on a state inspection sticker. I’ll continue polluting the planet with my rattletrap while at the same time advocating for clean energy and other conservation measures. What a mess.
“Save your pennies and buy one of them electric cars,” Swamp Rabbit said. “Volvo will be all electric by 2030.”
We got back into my rust bucket. “If I could afford a Volvo or Tesla or whatever, then I probably wouldn’t have a job that requires a car. I’d just Zoom into the office now and then. But computers cause pollution, too, did you know that?”
Swamp Rabbit shrugged. “There ain’t no easy answers in the post-postmodern world. No irony, either. Why don’t you start a Curmudgeons Anonymous group?”
I steered my moldy chariot back onto Junkyard Row. “You mean keep polluting and vent about it at meetings? That would just make me a hypocrite, rabbit.”
“That’s okay,” he said. “At least you’d be an honest hypocrite.”