Last weekend my family and I camped outside of Watkins Glen, NY. After the 2.3 mile trek up to the top of the gorge, I spotted an interesting mug in a souvenir shop. No ordinary mug, this coffee container demonstrates how global warming will affect coastal ecosystems. With a topographic map of the world around the outside of the mug, the coastlines disappear when hot coffee is added to it.
This may sound "cool" if you like to collect odd things and even more awesome if you're into mugs that do things other than serve coffee, but I was just the tiniest bit troubled by this mug. Touting the words, "Watch our coastlines disappear!", the company that made this mug, The Unemployed Philosophers Guild, fails to see the whole picture when it comes to human-caused climate change. I think the whole idea is neat and pretty savvy, but seriously, why not just say, "Hey kids! Look at this awesome thing called global warming -- the polar icecaps will melt, sea level will rise and some of your favorite cities will disappear under water! Cool, huh?"
I don't mean to sound sarcastic or cynical, but shouldn't this mug promote simple steps people can take to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions? Maybe when the hot coffee is poured into the mug, a list of things people can do to stop global warming would appear instead of a foreboding image of our coasts disappearing under the sea? I just don't understand why the prospect of our coastlines disappearing under the sea should be seen as a sort of fanfare. I respect that the mug demonstrates how global warming will affect the world, but I believe that we can do something about global warming, and our actions will shape the course of the future of our coastal ecosystems and cities.
Photo: Katherine Bailey