Sunday, February 11, 2007

Think Snow (and Declining Birthrates)

Grandma Ann of Sitting Knitting and I were skiing at Brighton, Utah on Saturday when we wandered onto a black diamond run by accident. We have the pictures to prove it. That's her, above, with the aspen trees behind her. I am standing in front of the moguls on the narrow trail below.

Of course, I felt badly about the climate-altering effects of our trip. Coincidentally, the NY Times ran a story on February 11 about Making High-Flying Guests Fuel-Efficient.
Burning a gallon of gasoline or of jet fuel produces approximately equal amounts of carbon dioxide. The airlines say that that each gallon moves a passenger about 20 miles, so a 1,000-mile trip would use about 50 gallons.
Several years ago, I read that it was 30 miles passenger miles per gallon. I don't know the methodology used to derive either number, but at least they are in the same ballpark.

I feel grateful that I can even ski this year. I would like to thank my physical therapist, rheumatologist, orthopedicist, immunologist, internist... You get the idea. I get so much knitting done because I spend an awful lot of time in waiting rooms.

On this trip, I discovered the link between climate change and declining birthrates. Remember! You read this here first.

Motherhood is dangerous, arduous and expensive. I can't think of a rational reason why anyone would sign up for it. But is there anything cuter than children in snow gear? (Well, perhaps puppies AND children playing together in the snow.)

In my twenties, I didn't allow myself to think about children. I was supposed to focus on research and finishing my dissertation. However, there were times when the longing for children was palpable. One such instance occurred while I watched a mother ski with her toddler between her legs. When would I do that with my baby?

Hmm. Didn't snow cover in the Italian alps decline at the same time as the birthrate in Italy? Maybe if the skiing was better and people were out there with cute kids in snowsuits, more biological clocks would have sounded.*

Back to the trip. Today, I learned Mark can ski backwards. Iris was having difficulty with the near white-out conditions at Alta this morning. Mark coaxed her down the run by skiing backwards in front of her. After that one run, I checked her into daycare at her insistence.

Yesterday, at Brighton, she tore up the slopes. I skied the last run with Iris and her class (one other girl and an instructor). He shouted out, "Look, trees! Should we go through them?"

The girls cried out, "Yes!" and dove in after him. The bumps in the trees scared me but my little girl was hopping from one mogul to the next. After a bit, he asked if they should go back into the trees or go out to the run.

The girls shouted, "Trees!", and went back in. I wisely stayed on the groomed run next to the trees. Iris jumped off one mogul and kicked out both feet like in the ski movies. She said that she was so good at that because she practices her jumps in tae kwon do.

* Correlation does not imply causality. However, people who study birthrates for a living report that living in a society where childrearing is common makes young people more inclined to have children. That is, we pattern our behavior after social norms that we observe around us.

I wrote a bit more seriously about climate change and jet travel in Procrastination and Climate Change.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous06:04

    I laughed at your disclaimer about correlation not implying causality. I think there may be some truth to your theory that seeing people rearing children makes one want to join in - one of my friends who is originally from
    Germany and now lives here is a big proponent of that argument as well. However, 1.) the children actually have to be "reared" - there are many, unfortunately, who are not and 2.) I think the innate desire, biological clock, whatever you want to call it, has to be there to begin with. I'm convinced mine doesn't exist, although I love seeing pictures of other people's kids and interacting with intelligent, well-behaved children being reared by people that I respect and like. There - I'm "out of the closet"!


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