The wonderful southern environmental writer Janisse Ray (Ecology of a Cracker Childhood, and others) has a new piece in Orion magazine of interest to Gristmillers, called “Altar Call for True Believers,” where she wonders why even the so-called choir seems to be failing at making great strides toward sustainability. It starts out with this startling vignette about greens and air travel:

If I ever preached to the choir, this luncheon was it. The sixty people in the room were professed environmentalists, all of them on the advisory council of an earth center at a college that advertises itself, rightfully, as strongly committed to environmental responsibility. Seated to my right was a friendly but road-weary woman who had arrived minutes before from Chicago. She had rented a car at the airport and driven straight here.

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“When will you return home?” I asked.

“I’ll go back this afternoon,” she said.

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My white cloth napkin lay folded in my lap. Two silver forks waited to the left of my plate. In minutes I would rise to speak at a meal for which and only for which one woman had flown from Illinois to North Carolina. In fact, I was speaking about the climate crisis. Could anything I said be worth those 750 pounds of carbon dioxide blasted into the atmosphere? Fifty-nine other people had journeyed here by various conveyances. Surely I was in part responsible.