Saturday, April 21, 2007


Addressing climate change poses a variety of challenges, the foremost of which is probably changing attitudes. The Globe and Mail carried a laugh-out-loud-funny article today in the Focus section, called “Kings of the road and their million dollar palaces,” about a sub-culture of super wealthy nomadic seniors who own Prevost buses pimped out as recreation vehicles. And they often travel in packs… yes, gangs of happy retired couples roaming our streets… in buses. One such environmentally destructive “club” brazenly calls themselves the “Prevost Prouds.”

Although I do not think of myself as an environmentalist, my blog, Aarons Beard, began a year ago initially because I was upset about Stephen Harper's cuts –more than a billion dollars-- to environmental spending on alternative energy sources and research into climate change and adaptation established previously in the Liberals’ widely acclaimed green budget. I was concerned that these reductions would be forgotten if some people did not speak up for them. As it turns out, I need not have worried. Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” hit the theaters almost immediately after and polling consistently indicates that dealing with global warming has become a priority for a significant number of voters. Far from being prescient, it appears I am a child of the times. Since then, Stephane Dion was elected leader of the Liberal party and, in reaction, the Conservative government largely reinstated the Liberal programs, albeit with less money. I am not happy about the inadequate absolute bare minimum strategy of the Conservatives.

As for Prevost buses, it should come as no surprise that even old people like the “bling” too. The retrofitted Prevost costs 1.5 million dollars plus and may be ordered with such necessities as marble floors, gold inlaid wash basins and a defibrillator. A retired couple can travel in a vehicle that would otherwise seat 56 and gets six or seven miles to the gallon. One couple described tows a Hummer behind their bus in case they want to explore smaller roads. The article, by Alan Freeman, is full of similar details on this exclusive sub-culture that left me shaking my head.

I really have no ill will towards these people. I am sure I would like many of them if we crossed paths. And the essential difference between Prevost owners and many others is a bank account containing a few million dollars. The desire for bling, a demonstration of affluence, has had many other names, but is, I suspect, as old as mankind and is not going to go away. The Prevost fetish is symbolic of sunny America: fat, successful and self-contented. The America of the green light. And why not. Behind the purchase of an RV Prevost bus is a web of life experiences and culture wide attitudes that will challenge effective action on reducing carbon emissions for a long time.

Seniors in luxuriant buses is another example of a problem that the military might not be able to solve. My next post will be about the goals of the Afghanistan mission titled, “No blank cheques,” and will appear soon.

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