This year, I spent my first Thanksgiving with my boyfriend and his family. The day was thick with cooking, laughter and debates about apple pie or pumpkin, homemade biscuits or Pillsbury. But when the dishes were cleared and the leftovers packed safely into Tupperware, our busy decisions were reduced to one: Scrabble or a movie?
This year Shayne and his brother had rented An Inconvenient Truth, insisting that we trump the traditional after-dinner game with Al Gore's commentary on global warming. Inconvenient indeed, to ingest such a troubling depiction of the environment and how its recent changes will affect our lives within the next 50 years. I joked about the stress of watching a film that calls for action on such an all-American holiday of gluttony. I feared that I would feel compelled to do something after watching that kind of movie, and after such a feast, the last thing any of us wanted to do was move.
Shayne suggested I that write a political piece about the film in order to temporarily subdue the feeling of helplessness that it could provoke. I considered the idea, but we decided that a piece about global warming would most definitely need a new slant. Like turkeys. All of those turkeys that America consumes (45 million on Thanksgiving Day—we had looked it up earlier that morning) contain an enormous number of calories. What if you could convert those calories into mechanical energy?
We Googled some pertinent facts and made a few rough estimates. By our calculations (and mind you, these are quick approximations, not rigorous science), if there were a generator that could convert 45 million turkeys into energy with approximately the same efficiency as the human body, it could power the entire state of North Carolina for about half an hour. Or, for the more patriotic-minded, the energy extracted from all those turkeys could run the lights on the Statue of Liberty for more than 3,000 years.
In his film, Al Gore points his finger at a number of reasons why our world is currently poised on the edge of destruction. One of the culprits is America's culture of consumption. I'm not suggesting that we chase the turkey from our holiday traditions, but I do plan to examine my daily habits and try to be more cognizant of how my actions affect the health of our planet. I hope that your family can spend some time during this holiday season doing the same. At the very least, go rent An Inconvenient Truth and educate yourselves about the challenges we face. Because 45 million turkeys is a lot of power.
Just imagine if we had included tofurkys in our calculations.