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What we are up against

My neighbor came by a couple days ago.

(Neither the conservative in a tiny trailer nor the tweaker / junkies, I’ve never written about this one before.)

I have new professionally made signs on the truck now, so its obvious I am running on bio-diesel (I think we had spoken about it once before a year ago or so).

He had read an article in National Geographic.

He came over to tell me that Bio-Diesel cost more than petroleum diesel.

Of course, I was already aware of this.

He asked why I used it.

I explained how being domestically produced and renewable meant we as a country were less reliant on imports, particularly from unstable places like the Middle East.

He was surprised that I thought we got a significant amount of oil from the Middle East.  He thought it comes mostly from Mexico and South America.

I acknowledged that we do get a lot from those places, but it is not as much as we use, and we  import huge amounts from across the ocean as well.

I asked why he thought we were in Iraq.  He may actually have not heard me, because he is hard of hearing.  Who knows?

So I went on to explain the significant difference in emissions, both in terms of greenhouse gases and regular air pollutants.

He was amazed that I actually cared about that, or felt it was a personal issue.

I pointed out that I have to breathe.  He said “well we ALL have to breathe”

“That’s exactly my point”

When I mentioned that we pay much less for gas than most places, he said he didn’t believe it.  He went on to say that the article said in Italy they pay over $6 per gallon.  Yet he was still sure that because of license fees and unspecified taxes, we still paid more per gallon in the end.

When I pointed out that gas prices will explode within the next decade as supply gets lower, he said he doesn’t expect to be around that long (which is odd – he is retired and hard of hearing, but he still has brown hair, and is very active.  He still rides his Harley.  He isn’t all that old.  I think.)

I asked if he had kids.  He said they were older than me.  I asked if he was concerned at all about the air quality and economic climate for them.  His response was not straight forward, but seemed to be a combination of ‘it won’t get too bad in their lifetimes either’ and ‘someone will solve those problems sooner or later’.

He kept going back to asking why I would spend more on fuel if I didn’t have to.  I said it was a matter of being a good citizen, like voting.  I decided against asking if he voted.

He found it very interesting that I felt that things like international politics and the environment were relevant to me personally.

He insisted he had NEVER met anyone who thought that before.  (Or at least no one who admitted it.)

I said I had a lot of customers who felt that way.

He said “maybe in San Francisco”.  “And Berkeley”  “Well, yeah in Berkeley”.  

We live in Oakland.  Oakland in right in between SF and Berkeley.  He has lived here for at least a decade or two (I can’t remember, it may have been longer) and has never met what you might call an environmentalist!?!?

This is a guy who occasionally flies an American flag over his home (more often its the Jolly Roger).  

He babysits for another neighbor.  He never rants about “liberals”.  We talk now again – we both have motorcycles, so sometimes about that.  He tells stories of his life.  Regular guy.  He wasn’t the slightest antagonistic about my views.  He was just surprised.

He could see how if that stuff mattered to me it might be worth it to buy bio-diesel.  For him, he said, all that mattered it the dollar cost.

We tend to focus on the exploitive corporations, corrupt government, fundamentalist religious people, and hummer drivers.

I think our biggest obstacle is all the ordinary people in between.  We shouldn’t be an “extreme”, but unfortunately, in this country, we are.