This is the last blog post in our series #MeetTheMorgans. Throughout the last couple of weeks, they have given us insights into the American way of life and how an upper middle-class family tries to consider sustainable options in their everyday life.
In this final interview, we talk about the biggest climate change problems they personally encounter* in the United States, how we could tackle them, and which role models still give them hope that we can save our planet. In addition, they revealed* their favorite green books and movies as an inspiration for our German readers (and listeners).
Lea: What do you think are the biggest problems that we’ll face in regard to climate change?
Carla (14): I feel like people not knowing. I feel like our generation is doing things, at least here, and our President doesn’t even believe that climate change is a real thing. But I feel like whenever it is our turn, our generation does come up.
Bane (42): This is the greatest void* – I think – that’s ever been in any grouping. So, at one point, it’d be women vote different than men, minorities vote different, okay? Now, generation forty and under vote 38 % differently
than forty and over.1 It’s the greatest gap ever in American politics for voting. And it’s all based on… A lot of people think it’s based on sustainability, what’s happened environmentally… but isn’t that crazy?
“The current voters’ disparity is caused by biased media coverage. Because news agencies in the U.S. no longer have to represent a neutral position.”
“In a throw-away economy it’s a non-thought to get things repaired.”
“The real problem lies in the ignorance of not recognizing climate change is a real thing. But also lack of education and the need for jobs blind people. Even tourism contributes to it. For example, in the Arctic, where they use the ice breakers to make room for oil drillings.”
Lea: What would be the first tiny step towards change?
Carla: I think everyone doing solar panels. I think it is really a good thing because by that we’re gonna have 100 percent clean energy, which is really cool. And I feel like that is something everyone can do.
Bane: I don’t even think that it’s on the radar that people think, “I need to be sustainable.” So, the first thing will be to get people to think, “What can I do to lessen* my footprint?”
Sheryl (48): Law. You would have to be required.
»Right now, people buy gasoline cars because they are cheaper. If you made electric cars ten thousand dollars cheaper than gasoline cars, guess what everybody would buy.«
Bane: The cost and the savings. Right now, people buy gasoline cars because they are cheaper. If you made electric cars ten thousand dollars cheaper than gasoline cars, guess what everybody would buy. You would buy it.
Sheryl: And if you said by 2025 every car has to be that. Oh well, then I would have to buy one.
Bane: That’s what everybody would do.
Sheryl: But there is no law. My car is half. That was the best I could do. But they didn’t have it in electro.
“We need western world leaders stating that climate change is real and making substantial commitments.”
Bane: And I think when people are out in the environment, then they appreciate* it more and they preserve it more.
Lea: Do you have a green role model?
Carla: I think my dad is pretty green. He tries his hardest.
Elon Musk (Duncan.Hull/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0)
Sophie (41): In general, people in the spotlight inspiring our kids. They make saving the world trendy. It’s trendy to save the world, now. So, that’s what we’re going to do.
Lea: Can you recommend a green book or a movie?
Carla: I don’t know if this counts but I am Malala.
Julia (12): Or even – I know these are animated movies – but Ice Age is actually serious.
Bane: The Fourth Turning: What the Cycles of History Tell Us About America’s Next Rendevouz with Destiny (William Strauss and Neil Howe) à It states his theory of recurring* generation cycles in America.
A walk in the woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail (Bill Bryson) à It is about a guy who walked on this trail from Georgia to Maine completely sustainably.
Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future (Ashlee Vance) à Elon Musk’s biography.
Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography (Theodore Roosevelt) à It tells the story of Teddy Roosevelt starting the National Parks.
The Emerald Mile: The Epic Story of the Fastest Ride in History Through the Heart of the Grand Canyon (Kevin Fedarko) à They are going down the Colorado river and the back story is about how you can control rivers and the history of the middle west but it also deals with the green movement and fighting the dams.
This final interview concludes our mini-series about Bane and Sophie and their four kids – the Morgans, a family in western Pennsylvania. I hope that you have enjoyed learning about this family’s approach to a greener lifestyle and their everyday
struggles to translate their ambitions into real-life actions. Perhaps it has taught you some new things about sustainability measures in the U.S. I myself am very grateful for all the insights the Morgans have given me into their American way
of life and thinking.
I interviewed this family, because I wanted to get an authentic insight into a real American middle-class family’s views on sustainability and whether they can represent general trends in society. My original questions focused on their actual behavior
and consumer choices – their housing situation, travel, eating, and shopping habits. But I was also interested in how they view the bigger picture: How do they perceive climate change in the U.S., the problems and challenges it creates, and the
most promising solutions that are available. The Morgans’ statements made me wonder more than once how “typical” of an American family they actually are and how much I personally would agree, or disagree, with their statements.
In the end, it was through their detailed answers, and Sheryl’s and Mary’s additional comments that I have learned so much more: choosing a sustainable lifestyle is not just a matter of your own personal commitment. You don’t just commit to a completely
green life and it all just falls into place the next day. To go green, you often need to consider so many aspects: costs, infrastructure, laws, attitudes, geography, and the list goes on and on. What is more, not all of the considerations can
be influenced by you. In fact, one thing I learned from the Morgans is that it can be pretty hard to live a greener lifestyle in some parts of the United States: In Gibsonia, for example, public transportation and bike lanes are far from being
available everywhere. Solar energy and e-mobility seem to be the Morgans’ preferred solutions to global warming, but can everyone actually afford these technologies? Also, the electricity for e-cars has to come from somewhere, too. And then, Sophie
and Bane made it clear that, in their view, the U.S. won’t go green without appropriate laws and environmentally sustainable business solutions.
All in all, it seems that projects like Going Green are essential in learning from each other and sharing ideas and innovations across borders in order to move our society as a whole towards a greener future.
1 For statistics on voter demographics please go to https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/11/08/the-2018-midterm-vote-divisions-by-race-gender-education/.
to encounter: to experience something, especially something unpleasant or difficult, while you are trying to do something else
void: a large empty space
to reveal: to make something known to somebody
to lessen: to become or make something become smaller, weaker, less important, etc.
to appreciate: to recognize the good qualities of somebody/something
roof tile: a flat, usually square, piece of baked clay, carpet or other material that is used in rows for covering the top of a building
first generation: people who have left their country to go and live in a new country; the children of these people
to recur: to happen again or a number of times
Women, Climate Change, and Sustainability for Everyone https://www.teachaboutus.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=336
Podcast on Elon Musk’s “Vision for the Future” https://podcasts.apple.com/de/podcast/elon-musk-spacex-elon-musks-vision-for-the-future/id1438251033?i=1000424675203
Elon Musk’s “SpaceX becomes first private company to launch a reused rocket on a NASA mission” https://www.cnbc.com/2017/12/15/elon-musks-spacex-becomes-first-to-launch-reused-rocket-on-a-nasa-mission.html
Arctic Oil Drilling https://www.greenpeace.org/usa/arctic/issues/oil-drilling/
- Go online and check the facts about American voting behavior, oil drilling plans in the Arctic, and NASA’s SpaceX program stated in this interview. Keep in mind that the Morgans’ statements are not necessarily accurate but based upon their understanding.
- What drivers for sustainable development are mentioned in the interview? How do they differ?
Meet the Morgans How one American family is going green
In Going Green, you come across different cases of sustainable lifestyles on both sides of the Atlantic. And in times of globalization—easy mobility between nations, expanding trade relations, communication through social media in real-time—we're led to believe that we already know exactly what life in another country looks like. But is that really so? Luckily, Lea Meimerstorf was able to visit and interview a family of six from western Pennsylvania during the past few weeks and she got an interesting glimpse into their daily life. The Morgans welcome us into their home and along their daily routines. Over the next couple of weeks, we are going to explore what steps this American family takes—or doesn't take—to go green, including the areas of housing, transportation, food, shopping, and more. What do you do to go green? And how do your family's efforts compare to those of the Morgans? Stay tuned and find out in this mini-series.The views and opinions expressed in these interviews are not necessarily reflective of Teach About U.S.'s mission.
Lea Meimerstorf is a primary school teacher student in the 2nd Master's semester at Leuphana University Lüneburg. Her subjects are English and German. She has been supporting Teach About U.S. as a project assistant since 2019.