Friday, May 27, 2011

What I'm Reading

(Reminder:check in with SlowBoatCruise.com tonite at 5:30 when Dragonfly crosses her wake)

Our solar panels don't make much power under cloudy skies. So yesterday, SlowBoat cruised veeeeerrry slowly from Utica to Rome.

Utica, by the way, has a waterfront restaurant with a nice dock where (for a fee) boats can tie up overnight and plug in to shore power.  But we actually stayed half a mile farther along, on a rusty and apparently abandoned dock--less glamorous, but free. "Almost as nice as that dock in Beardstown," the crew said. "No, nicer," said Cap. "We don't have to row through dead fish to get to shore."

We washed up and hiked the canalside bike trail to the restaurant bar, where we met a couple of nautical-looking guys who turned out to be 1) yacht brokers, 2) sailors (the kind who win the big races) and 3) yacht-delivery captains. Their current assignment: A shakedown cruise, showing new owners the ropes on a large yacht. This boat passed us earlier in the day: Sleek, hi-tech, lots of complicated curves and mirrored glass. If the line of Transformers toys included a yacht, this would be the model.

The two captains joked good-naturedly about the owners' adjustment to to the constrictions of shipboard life: their blow-dryer flipped a circuit breaker. And when they took showers they pretty much drained the 170-gallon water tank.

Now, I titled this post, "What I'm reading." This week, I'm finally reading a book we've been carrying around the entire voyage: Hot, Flat and Crowded, by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. What does this book have to do with our trip? Check the subtitle: Why We Need a Green Revolution--and How It Can Renew America.

Now, Friedman is a foreign policy analyst, not a wild-eyed environmentalist.  He has a master's degree in philosophy and a couple of Pulitzers for his international reporting.  But he's a smart guy, and he sees connections. The number of people who aspire to a middle-class American lifestyle is exploding around the world.  But if everyone wants to live the way Americans currently live we'll run out of resources, fast . . . if the planet doesn't choke first on the heat from greenhouse gases.

I'm only about a third of the way through the book, but if you check Cap's ribs, they must be black and blue from all the times I've elbowed him vigorously in the side, saying, "Listen to this!" Friedman's writings closely mirror the ideas Cap and I have been tossing around for months (while eating our one-pot, energy-efficient, locally grown dinners, while washing dishes in water-conserving sailor fashion, while scouring small towns in search of recycling bins).

To summarize the bit we like best, Friedman says, we innovated our way into this mess, and we can innovate our way out of it.  We have the know-how to make homes MUCH more energy efficient. We have the knowledge and the creativeness to take the products that we enjoy and design them of component parts that are truly recyclable.  We CAN have a future with electronic gadgets and all-American comforts . . . we just can't fuel it in the same old way.

No comments:

Post a Comment