Movies or the environment. Peter Woo had to pick which of the two topics we’d discuss on our lunchtime walk. I had my fingers crossed for movies, but Woo doesn’t watch films. The teenager keeps busy with volunteer commitments, such as youth town council, and his schoolwork.
I don’t know much about the environment. I know my quarterly review at work said I create a “hostile work environment” for my colleagues, whatever that means. (To be precise, the report said my use of swears, compulsive lying and sociopathic lack of empathy make me a poor candidate for any job but splitting boulders with my face).
I guess what we talked about was environmentalism. I know a little more about that. I know I’d like a house as big as Al Gore’s, for example, and I want David Suzuki’s frequent flier miles.
Trudging through the snow, Peter and I agreed global warming was a very good thing for us. Bad for the planet, sure, but very good for South Albion Street and people who use its sidewalks. I stopped hiding my coal-fired hand-warmer and let Peter bask in its warmth as well as we strolled up the ice-choked path.
Peter’s environmental cause de jour isn’t global warming, anyway.
“Litter,” said the young man. “Litter and recycling.”
Good practices start at home, he seemed to be saying. I get that. For example, I’m somewhat moderate when it comes to the penal system. But people who dump fast food garbage out their car window should be loaded into a turbine-sized catapult and launched into the middle of the Bay of Fundy.
Speaking of turbines, Peter likes the ones on the marsh. He’s a fan of their appearance, too. Which reminded me of a story: we had someone around our office a while back – no names, sorry – who semi-believed the turbines could be used as giant fans. A great idea, right? Imagine the lovely Fundy breezes blowing across town on a hot summer day. But what if a disgruntled employee or a terrorist got their hands on the throttle?
“Full blast, they could level Amherst in minutes,” we warned the gullible object of our prank.
Woo isn’t sure how nuclear power works, but it sounds dangerous. I’m not sure how it works, either, but I think it sounds fun. When I was a kid, my dad had a friend who was a chemist. This was the 1970s, remember, when rules were a little more lax than today’s standards. This chemist had his own bar of uranium – it was about the size of a deck of cards – and whenever we’d visit his lab, he’d get it out and pass it around to the kids. After we’d had a chance to hold it, he’d wave a Geiger counter over our outstretched palms and the needle would go nuts. That was fun.
Nice guy. Ended up in jail, but a nice guy.
“There’s a giant patch of plastic litter floating in the Pacific,” said Peter.
A reassuring end to our discussion. A stockpile of recyclables will come in handy when we run out of other resources.
Disclaimer: Take a Hike is a mix of fact and fiction. Eric’s guest may or may not have said what appears in this column. It’s probably best you assume s/he didn’t.