GHGs, Skype, and Rogue Groin Shots.

There was a news article from CTV recently that interested me (here) – can gas prices put strain on our long-distance relationships? Now, the article chose to focus solely on intimate relationships and the sheer cost of driving and flying long distances, but why can’t we focus on greenhouse gases instead?

I fly home to Alberta to see my family 2-3 times a year, and my parents usually fly out here at least once a year. That’s upwards of 4 flights a year just to stay in touch with my family. Now, flying to Alberta may not seem far, but what about those folks whose families live in, say, Ontario? Hong Kong? New Zealand?

If we are to re-think the way we live, and espouse a healthy carbon footprint with a fickle environment, will we lose touch with our friends and families after moving away? For that matter, will we stop moving away and settle on living near where we were born? Are we now destined to living as we as a species traditionally have – nearby?

Coincidentally, The Walrus has an interesting article on a thematically similar topic – Skype Love (i.e. how Voice Over Internet protocol technologies are changing how we spend time apart from our loved ones) Here’s a brief snippet, but I encourage to check it out:

Obviously, this makes being apart less lonely. But has it brought people closer? Does it make us better lovers? Does sitting in front of a webcam free us up to talk more intimately? And what the hell do we talk about so often for so long?

I often talk with my parents over a webcam. I think my father is thoroughly fascinated with the idea of being on someone else’s screen. At some point during our conversation, he becomes either Yuri the cosmonaut, rotating the camera to feign weightlessness on the Albertan foothills, or a magician, making objects appear from beyond the computer screen. Let’s be frank – weekly phone calls have nothing on this.

While I was most recently at sea, my girlfriend and I kept in touch using Skype. I have to admit, being able to use Skype and, for that matter, having access to the rest of the world via the internet while isolated on a small ship in the middle of the ocean felt liberating.

During my previous two expeditions, we had access to email – the ship’s designated email, that is – twice a day. We received news once a day of the outside world from the Canadian coast guard:

  • Anna Nicole Smith is dead
  • New Kids on the Block are back in action, and taking the world on
  • Natural disaster hits a country near the equator, many people die

I was now no longer confined to a claustrophobic bunk bed in a claustrophobic cabin on a claustrophobic boat – I could now watch kids throw footballs and basketballs and rogue bats at the groins of grown men anytime I wanted. And I did, and I laughed, and the world felt right again.

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terryman

Dave Semeniuk spends hours locked up in his office, thinking about the role the oceans play in controlling global climate, and unique ways of studying it. He'd also like to shamelessly plug his art practice: davidsemeniuk.com

2 Responses to “GHGs, Skype, and Rogue Groin Shots.”

  1. Timon

    I’m just coming off the better part of three years in a long-distance-relationship-maintained-by-Skype scenario (wrote about it previously – see link at the end). On top of that, my parents can be found at very distant points on the globe on a regular basis and my brother is cloistered on the west coast of Vancouver Island (in Gold River, to be precise). I can say with certainty that I don’t know how I would maintain these relationships without semi-regular visits and internet-based communication. You asked if being conscious of our carbon footprints could impact our closeness to family in friends. Hell yes. Focusing solely on online contact (thanks for the link to the Walrus article by the way), I love that at random moments during my days I could know exactly what my wife was doing in the lab or I could show my mom how I’d mangled my toe. I hate to think what my relationships would be like without burning dinosaur bones to fly or ferry my butt to where my heart was. Ditto for using more than my fair share of electrons to share trivia. (I’ll make up for my offenses now that it’s done, striving to hit 30 without ever having owned a car, making a greater effort to buy local produce, etc.)

    http://www.scq.ubc.ca/for-those-about-to-post-doc-we-salute-you/

  2. Brett Banks

    The way one needs to look at this is that yes in the short term people will have to suffer at bit and do without possibly visiting their far flung loved ones as much as they would like. But the thing people need to remember is that the demand and thus potential profit will still be there. That will then force investment into enviro friendly, carbon light air transport(lighter materials, alternative fuel sources, more aerodynamic shapes, etc..). Just because currently air tranport is carbon heavy and enviro unfriendly doesnt mean it will always be so. It may take a few years but once again where theres demand…

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