by Douglas Black, April 22, 2014
Not too many years ago, back in 2003 to be precise, I spearheaded an effort to raise awareness of the importance of energy efficiency in vehicles as a sure way to help reduce the effects of Global Climate Change. There were a few hurdles. Not that hurdles no longer exist, the climate change deniers to mention one, but an awful lot of good has happened in a decade.
The project I invented, and I say that literally because my life was in turmoil, going through an unwanted divorce, and struggling with the demons of drink, I invented a project that was grant funded and did some good. Purposefully making up a moniker that was catchy, I called it the Great Lakes Energy Efficiency MotorRally – 2003. That’s GLEEM2003 as acronym.
The idea was pretty straightforward. Create a learning tool for schoolkids, deliver that tool to as many as possible, use props, and team up.
So, the learning tool was a curriculum called “Energy Efficiency and Transportation” was targeted to middle school students in Michigan. I chose Michigan because I was a Detroiter. There was really no material available for educators that followed the strict guidelines of Standards and Guidelines in the State of Michigan. So I created a study guide that crossed over all four disciplines – Math, Science, Social Studies, and Language Arts.
We, and I say we referring to my son Vince, a seventh grader at the time, went on a road trip over the seven days of Earth Week to deliver the message to middle school students. We visited over 30 classrooms and the trip culminated at an EarthDay Celebration at the Michigan State University Campus in East Lansing, Michigan.
The props we used were the vehicles, and there were not too many to choose from. We managed to secure some very gracious support from both Toyota – the original Prius Hybrid was one of only two available commercially at the time, the other being the Honda Insight – and from General Motors Corporation, who lent us an E85 Tahoe Truck for a couple of days. The questions from seventh graders like “Where do you put the corn?” were priceless.
Much has changed. Today there are more than 12 commercially available vehicles that are considered Hybrid, and many more to come. Energy Efficiency in the mobile environment has become mainstream.
And not just mainstream, but money mainstream. We are no longer just talking about tiny deathtrap cars, stripped down for fuel efficiency. (ANOTHER CAR) Even Bentley has a Hybrid Concept Vehicle that utilizes Hybrid technology, unveiled at the Geneva Auto Show this year. I would call that the Touring Sedan With A Conscience.
I have a theory as to why that has happened so fast (a decade).
An awareness of the environment, and the human effect on our precious planet, seems to come stronger with each generation. (EVIDENCE FROM STATISTOICS). My own experience with this involves deforestation, VHS technoplogy and my oldest daughter GiGi. When GiGi was a preschooler, I was elbows deep in a career selling lumber.
Specifically, 2×4’s to developers who would build as fast as humanly possible. Around the same time the movie “Fergully; The last Rain Forest”, was extremely popular among the kids and VHS players were “the thing” among the tech savvy crowd like me who knew BETA was doomed (google it). So GiGi watched Furngully.
When I came home one night the question hit me. “Daddy, are you cutting down the RAINFOREST?”
I thought “How dare they, those treehuggers brainwashing my daughter.”
Truth be told, the backers (Greenpeace, etc etc) were in fact educating a younger generation to become the activists, stakeholders, and most importantly the decision makers of today. The Millennia’s are now the folks with the political clout, and the purse strings, whether they know it or not.
So today, EarthDay2014, I say it is time to ramp up the volume. Let’s start educating another generation about the facts of climate change so that in 2050, things will be looking much better.
Douglas Black is a photographer and writer who really hopes we don’t screw up our planet.
Author of The Trilogy STRUCTURE, SPORT, and SIDESTREETS, and blogger.