I’m just back from a trip to the Czech Republic and still suffering from some serious jetlag, so I’ll keep this short and sweet. On the way across the pond I read a stat in Vanity Fair’s Green issue that seriously bummed me out: the U.S. will likely emit 19% more greenhouse gases by 2020 than it did in 2000. Meanwhile, our friends over in the European Union have committed to cut those emissions by 20% by 2020 from 1990 levels. Ouch! I’m pretty sure I winced visibly at that one.
The staggering difference in priorities reflected by those numbers made me wonder if I would see a major difference in the day-to-day eco-consciousness in Europe in comparison to the U.S. To be fair, I was coming from one of our country’s greenest cities to a country led by a man who recently said that government spending on global warming studies were a waste of money and who has compared environmentalism to communism (which, if you know anything about the anti-communist sentiment that pervades the Czech Republic, is a pretty brawny statement). So perhaps it shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me when recycling bins were nearly impossible to find, or that there was a shocking number of massive SUVs bumping over the cobblestones despite the tiny streets upon which they have to maneuver. I can only hope that a country which loves beer as much as this one does might find the effects that the current multi-year drought are having on their barley crops at least mildly concerning enough to consider that climate change might have something to do with it.