Outdoor Philosophy

Harnessing the power of adventure to inspire environmental action

23 June 2006 #1

sumptious eggs benedict breakfast and then walked across the plaza to the mayor’s office. 11 floors up, huge views of albuquerque, a suite of open plan offices interspersed with sofas and enormous chinese vases. over 200 ‘cool city’ mayors across the USA have basically said, the hell with bush, if he isn’t going to do anything about global warming then we are – and committed their cities to reaching kyoto targets, and often significantly beyond. i’d just figured out how to use the new digital recorder and rather nervously prepared a ton of questions. but mayor martin chavez – short grey hair, very calm, focussed, casual dress (“i’m going fishing later”) – started by asking me about my trip. then barry “my energy man” joined us. then one of the mayor’s aides put her head around the door to say that someone from the alburquerque tribune was here. before i knew it i was being interviewed by cary from the tribune, various people on the conference call system and someone from the local radio station. the aide was mouthing, “tell them how important the issue is”, a dog barked in the background and a photographer was snappping all of us. so my first digital recording was mostly of myself. finally i got to ask the mayor some questions. his vision was very much top down and technology focussed. cleaner energy, greener fleets, energy efficiency. lifestyle changes? “yes of course. but we don’t need to go back to the caves.” (i think this meant, lifestyle changes? not really). are the mayors making a difference at federal level? “oh yes. environmental issues in general are going to be a major issue in the next election. al gore is having an impact. the usa is really going to come on board in relation to global warming – and then it will lead the world. then it will be a force to be reckoned with . . .”

the mayor was asked what he thought about my trip. “well, i think the dr is a ripple on a lake. a ripple that will turn into a tidal wave…” the barking dog in the background turned out to be the mayor’s dog, dukes, a gorgeous, sane, happy, black, grey and spotty retriever cross. dukes was a rescue dog that featured in a spaying and neutering campaign. i warmed to the mayor even more after meeting his dog. dukes bought a ball and dropped it at my feet. throwing it seemed less than wise. barry said, oh just chuck it. if we break a vase we’ll just get the chinese to send another. not sure how serious he was but i don’t think he was entirely joking either. barry described himself as &bquo;a republican, but the greenest person in the building&bquo;. we went to his office and chatted about all sorts of things. his reservations about biofuel – “it releases huge amounts of carbon in the harvesting, not like we do it with a man and an ox, and it takes up habitat and agricultural land”. in relation to cars, he favoured hydrogen. and the energy for the reaction? “solar”. it was barry who told me about the interstates and fighter planes, about how ornery kids get if they watch tv and eat sugar . . .