ImageMy college-age son, Dennis, was greatly impressed with Al Gore's award winning film, "An Inconvenient Truth." For days, all I heard about was global warming. Dennis urged me to watch the documentary. I said I would consider it, but truthfully, gave the film little thought. Shortly thereafter, I settled into my armchair to unwind, and enjoy a movie. There, in the pay-per-view listings, was "An Inconvenient Truth." My finger hovered over the remote. Did I want to learn about the earth's climate crisis from Al Gore, or join Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock in the "Lakehouse?" I was torn – for about a second. Al Gore may have won the Oscar, but Keanu Reeves won the night. Dare I say it? At that particular moment, watching Al Gore's video dissertation on our "planetary emergency" was far too…inconvenient.

Nevertheless, the "let's go green" bandwagon circled my home. Thanks to the exemplary example of his high school biology teacher, Matt, my youngest, appointed himself watchdog of my meager conservation efforts. Suddenly, Matt no longer "allowed" me to purchase fast food at a certain burger chain that has been linked to the destruction of the rainforest. My plastic grocery bags were frowned upon, ditto for the foam plates upon which I served pizza to Matt's friends. Matt suggested I buy only Poland Springs eco-friendly, 100% recyclable water bottles made from 30% less plastic, and advised that driving less, and walking more, would be both healthy and environmentally responsible.  

My sons' generation is far more environmentally insightful than I was at their age. During my youth, we bagged groceries in brown paper sacks, which were recycled as school book covers to save money, not trees. We co-mingled newspapers and plastics in one aluminum trash can, and never thought twice about drinking water from the tap. To my recollection, the word "rainforest" only appeared on the pages of National Geographic Magazine. However, while I applaud my kids' awareness, I sometimes wonder. Is their environmental conscience real, lasting, or merely "trendy" politics?

When I open the washing machine, and find a solitary pair of shorts spinning around at full water level, or find every light, in every room in the house, burning brightly; when I see a barely eaten macaroni and cheese dinner in the trash, or find out my oldest drove "the long way" home because he "felt like it," can you blame me for wondering? Talk about waste! Wasted water, wasted food, wasted gas, wasted energy; increased pollution, increased trash. Young and old all have wasteful habits; we are all guilty of abusing our environment.


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That's an inconvenient truth.

And so is the fact that to rise above my shortcomings, and emerge environmentally responsible, I have to learn from my kids' example, and they, in turn, must learn from me. That certainly doesn't always sit well with any of us, but truth is a funny thing. It's inconvenient. Always.

Thank you, Mr. Gore, for pointing that out – and thank for the rather catchy title of this week's column.

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Allan Dean

Allan Dean is editor, publisher, and founder of the Atlantic Highlands Herald. Published since 1999 and selected in 2000 by the Borough of Atlantic Highlands as one of their official newspapers, making...