I’m a reasonable person, fairly discerning, observant and not overly skeptical…though I am learning to question much of what I hear these days. I’m not a “climate denier”, but I am nervous about how the world is dealing with the issue. I see and hear a lot of concern about global warming, even the national budget statement uses alarming language like “street flooding as oceans rise”, “longer, more intense fire seasons”, “more radical weather”, “droughts”, etc. I also see and read a lot about people who dare to question the “general consensus on climate change” being ground into dirt by media, corporations and even our government for asking reasonable questions. Even more alarming is reading comments about killing “climate deniers”, imprisoning them or, at the very least, not allowing them to hold public office. What happened to the First Amendment? Why is debate on this issue being not only discouraged, but aggressively suppressed? Why have “gag orders” been placed on many of our weather experts? If this is such a critical issue to all of us, shouldn’t EVERYONE be in on the discussion and every viewpoint heard? Shouldn’t we be able to hear all sides…especially since this is a situation that no one alive has ever experienced? I read and see the same “data” and reports that all of you do. It’s clear things are changing, but then we’ve always known we live in a dynamic universe where there are very few constants. I wonder why the huge push just now. As George Carlin stated in his monologue, “Save the planet”, the earth has existed for millions of years; the industrial age began less than 200 years ago; do we REALLY think we have tipped the scales permanently in that little bit of time? WE might be on the way out (via nuclear war or killing each other off with biological warfare, etc), but the earth has survived a lot worse than us and will probably shake us off like a bad case of fleas and continue on just fine without us.
Ok…George wasn’t a scientist, or even a great statesman; he did, however, have some common sense….and the ability to point out very clearly when we were straying away from it! Yes…things are changing; we DO need to prepare ourselves…for anything; it’s simply practical to make some changes in the way we live and operate…and view the world and it’s resources. Fossil fuel use pollutes our air and water and affects all of us and all other species on the planet; there ARE better alternatives. Chemical dependence IS also polluting our water, air and food as well as messing up most of our natural systems. We DO generate WAY too much garbage and waste way too many resources in unnecessary packaging, etc. We (at least in the west) DO live largely at levels beyond which our own environments can support and our demands DO have direct effects on those in poorer countries where labor (and life) is apparently cheaper. But is alarming our children in schools by teaching them that we are destroying the earth just as many of us were terrified by having to go thru pointless drills in event of a possible nuclear attack during the cold war REALLY the way to change our direction? Wouldn’t it be better to simply teach them respect…for themselves and everyone and everything around them…and how every choice we make has an impact on the world around us? Is our government funneling huge amounts of our tax dollars (well over 20 billion/year and rising) into “climate change activities” REALLY the way to help mitigate the damage and prepare us for a more radical future that is predicted to come? Is trying to force ANYTHING ever effective for long….especially when it comes to citizen participation?
I think we are all being played. I think there are a select few pockets being lined as a result of the “war on global warming” just as there are in keeping us in a perpetual state of war on foreign soils. This is a huge, self-perpetuating system that collects our tax dollars and directs them to the same few over and over and over, with just enough trickling down,and enough fear being continually created to keep the system going. Despite promises of corrupt politicians, the poor keep getting poorer, the streets fill with more and more homeless, the news is filled with more and more atrocities committed by desperate people all over the world, it is getting harder and harder for everyone except for a relatively small group of elitists to exist and we keep buying into the story.
I think the way to REALLY change things begins with me…and you. First of all, we need to realize we are being played….and refuse to join in….refuse to be manipulated through fear. Then we need to realize that little changes in our collective daily choices and methods will be much more effective in terms of affecting the climate than any government-sponsored program that will eventually fizzle with the monies in a few chosen pockets. I’m talking about simple things here! I was researching on energy use just prior to the issuance of Bush’s last stimulus package and found out that if every house in the country were to replace just one incandescent light bulb with an energy-efficient one, it would amount to the same carbon reduction as removing something like 200,000 cars from the road.
It is obvious that while our individual efforts may seem meaningless, multiply them by 100, a 1,000 or many thousands and you begin to see the power in individual choice. Here is just a tiny list of things we can all do that will add up to REAL carbon reduction:
1) LED bulbs have come down in price and are much safer than the cfls that were being pushed a few years ago….start replacing some bulbs if you haven’t done so! And while you’re saving on electricity, turn off your computers, phones, TVs and other electronic devices for an extra hour or so/day to begin with. There’s a whole world outside to rediscover!
2) Drive less and bicycle more! It’s good for the planet AND you in so many ways! Some simple planning/organizing can eliminate a lot of those quick trips to town. If you have mass transit available, use it while it’s still an option…before the traffic in your city becomes completely gridlocked as it often does in some cities around the world.
3) Start now growing at least some of your own food! Anyone, anywhere can do this!…even if it’s only sprouting or small-container gardening. This is addictive since home-grown food is so much better-tasting than commercially-produced goods and the process of growing it is great for the soul! Soon you will be amazed at how much you can produce on your own…even in a small space like a windowsill or patio.
4) When you do buy, try to buy locally. This not only promotes local businesses and enhances community relationships, but saves on huge amounts of transportation and fuel costs and generally will land you better quality food picked when it should be rather than when it needs to be to survive weeks of shipping time. If you don’t have a local farmer to buy from, a farmer’s market, start a community farm/garden!
5) Buy less processed/packaged foods. Not only does this save on transportation costs, natural resources and landfill space, NOT choosing these types of foods (many of which contain GMO products) will, collectively help eliminate the need for GMO labeling, discourage the use of pesticides and herbicides and lead to higher-quality foods for all of us.
6) If you are building, be conservative with the size. You will not only save money at every stage of construction and future maintenance, but also cut down on transportation of materials AND give yourself many, many more hours of freedom from maintenance, etc.
7) If you are in a community, consider sharing costs of purchase and maintenance on lawn mowers and other power tools. It can be a little convenient, but will help you get to know your neighbors, greatly reduce (collectively) transportation costs, landfill needs, etc.
8) As permaculturists know, our dumping carbon into the atmosphere for years has been an investment in our future to a very real degree. Planting the right plants and trees in the right combinations and in the right places can provide us with almost everything we need to survive….materials for shelter, fuel, clothing, food and clean water…all produced from carbon removed from the air around us. This is one of the most practical and sustainable (if the two can be separated!) ways of living there is. If you’ve not heard of Permaculture, there are many great resources on the subject online and in your libraries. Get going!…this is the way of the future!
This list could go on much longer but I don’t want to spoil your fun in finding the many more ways you can become independent, make life easier and more enjoyable for yourself AND help save the planet at the same time. Some really amazing things about all of these suggestions that we often forget is that they are all very legal, they are all good for you in terms of health and finances, they are all good for the health of your community, they are all beneficial in terms reducing our carbon output and the negative effects of our wants and needs on poorer countries, they ALL encourage local jobs, they ALL encourage involvement with your community and they ALL increase our independence and our resiliency! This will in turn decrease our dependence on government and make us better able to handle any kind of emergency that may arise whether it is the result of global warming, war or some other catastrophe. As a side benefit, it could also decrease our need to work and increase our playful, creative time! What are we waiting for?!!! I’ve never been a boy scout, but I admire their motto: “Be prepared!” If we all start now becoming as independent as possible, we will soon be well-prepared to meet any kind of emergency that might come up and will greatly-reduce our stress levels in the meantime. To quote another motto; “Just do it!”