Today is Blog Action Day 2009 and also Theme Thursday and the kind little elves who choose the theme each week decided to meld the two . . . brace yourselves . .
While Governments meet in far flung places to debate the need, viability and means of reducing our Carbon footprint via carbon trading initiatives, others question whether carbon dioxide is the issue at all. I'm not going to make a judgement call on that because I'm beginning to put two and two together. We can effectively, as nations, reduce our carbon footprints through carbon trading with countries who do not produce mountains of C02, it's a neat and simple political solution to a much wider problem . . the problem of over-consumption, economic greed and excess in the west and total poverty and depravity and no desire to assist the underdeveloped world. It's about waste and want and a singular unwillingness to take the technologies already in place because we don't want noisy windmills or compost heaps in our back yard. We are all NIMBY's . . myself included.
It seems, it is too hard for a nation who makes it's fortune out of energy-producing raw materials (Gas, coal, uranium) and the production of traditional meat (beef, lamb, pork) to re-engineer their industries to produce clean, green agriculture and power on a large scale or farm their natural wildlife that is culled with regularity to make way for million acre cattle stations. So, we, as the largest per capita producers of C02 continue to sell our resources abroad because our economy depends upon it. We don't want nuclear power stations on our soil but we'll happily sell yellow cake to those who do.
The real problem with climate change is that I believe it is inevitable. For many reasons, the climate warms and cools in natural cycles. Yes my friends. Most of the statistics you see are gathered since 1850 . .but carbon dating of ice cores in the Arctic tell a story of constant climate fluctuation and high levels of C02. Sorry, but the Polar Bear is a poorly adapted species and unless he learns to hunt in the woods is doomed. Just as surely as the urban Black and Grizzly will survive on our excessive waste. Look at foxes . . perfect examples of adaption to loss of habitat.
Just as El Ninio winds sweep across our wide brown land and produce drought, or the earth's crust collides in clusters as it has recently in the east . . .these are things over which we have no control. We live on a volatile and dynamic planet. Not just the third rock from the sun. The climate will warm, and cool until finally that bright star explodes and we will be no more.
We can however, gain control over population, water conservation, food and energy production and distribution, wealth distribution and a plethora of 'green' alternatives that can equalise us all, reduce waste and the impact we have had during our short lifespan on this wonderful blue planet. Believe me, in archaeological terms, it's minuscule. Our enemy is not climate change but human nature.
We need to change attitudes. We need to convince the SUV driver that a Hummer is not a family car, that an electronic pepper grinder is not essential. I once met a devout Christian who had no compunction throwing garbage out of his car window . . "Don't throw your litter, that's pollution even on a small scale" I shrieked . ."I don't care . ." he said, "I will be in heaven when the planet goes down!"
Attitudes are hard to change. Change of any kind is difficult to manage but manage it we must.
Does it not strike you as odd that the average American/Australian eats 120kg of meat a year when just 100 years ago there was little more than meat on Sunday. Lifestyle diseases such as premature heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity were almost unknown. Furthermore, natural resources were not exploited unnecessarily.
Does it not strike you as amazing that in a country so short of water, we don't have a suitable covered irrigation system for our drought ridden farms . . we 'allocate' water from already over salinated rivers. In Sydney's case, despite water restrictions, we still want our little patches of green European style lawn and are prepared to build a desalination plant to achieve it? None want to drink perfectly clarified water made out of their own sewage . . this technology is available NOW!
Does it not strike you incredible that a planet barely capable of supporting 6 billion with millions dying in abject poverty from starvation and AIDS, the devastation of war and weather, entertains the possibility of 10 billion by 2050. Many of whom will not reach their third birthday, and many who will be so obese they will need medical intervention to survive their fourth.
Does it not strike you as ironic that we pillage fossil fuels yet provide government grants to scientists and innovators to produce alternatives then refuse to implement their innovations or won't install wind farms on our rocky coasts because they make too much noise?
Does it not strike you as pathetic that we can spend billions on war and blessed little on greening our environment. What is the point of victory over Islam when our own nations are dying by our own hand?
I have researched this in the past. And recently, in preparing for this post have ventured upon sites, blogs, books and articles with such misinformation and conflicting views that I despair in our ability to act globally on this issue. Then I found this. And with little editing and all credit to it's author Mike Treder, I offer a solution. A difficult solution. No 'ten easy steps to save the planet'. The task ahead is far more difficult than power saving light bulbs or water saving shower heads:
1. ELIMINATE NUCLEAR WEAPONS
Simply put, nuclear weapons have no place in a bright green future.
2. STABILIZE THE BOTTOM BILLION
In order to have a resilient and peaceful planet, we must first meet the basic needs of all the people who live here. Each person deserves clean water, adequate sanitation, and access to health care.
3. CREATE A GLOBALLY TRANSPARENT SOCIETY
This involves transparency and accountability in both business and government. It also includes tools that let us easily see and understand the backstory of the products in our lives, from the homes we live in to the food on our plates. Open-source approaches are excellent tools for promoting transparency, since these collaborative problem-solving systems increasingly eradicate hidden agendas and exclusivity.
4. BE PREPARED, GLOBALLY
Have a large scale disaster plan. Particularly if you live in an area prone to dramatic geographical and meteorological events. Communicate and coordinate with each other to create plans that provide food and shelter for communities. And on a larger scale, states and nations can create response plans that effectively deliver aid, as well as short- and long-term shelter solutions. Essentially - bring back 'community'.
5. EMPOWER WOMEN
Equality for women is more than a justice issue. By giving women equal rights we also help create a more sustainable world. Women who have access to education and rights over their own bodies choose to have fewer children and are empowered in their own environment. Overpopulation is a serious issue, with huge implications for problems like climate change.
6. ENABLE A FUTURE FORWARD DIET
Decrease our environmental and social footprints by eating locally, organically and mostly meat and dairy free.
7. DOCUMENT ALL LIFE
Scientists estimate that our planet is home to somewhere between 10 and 100 million species. We’ve described only 1.8 million: the rest are yet to be discovered.
8. NEGOTIATE AN EFFECTIVE CLIMATE TREATY
We need a global treaty that holds all players accountable to decreasing their carbon emissions and their general consumption.
9. BUILD BRIGHT GREEN CITIES
Design cities that allow people access to their greatest potential within a framework of sustainable prosperity. Bright green cities are designed so that residents have access to public parks, basic goods, entertainment, services and jobs within walking distance. Bright green cities include transit systems and mobility options to allow people to get from one place to another comfortably and on time without the use of a private vehicle. (I work for an organisation who lives by this mantra - to their credit, yet I've never seen so much photocopying in my life!) Yet every day, I sit in a traffic jam . . one car . . one driver.
10. BUILD NO NEW HIGHWAYS
It’s time to stop building highways and focus resources on improving the streets and infrastructure that is already in place If we redefine the model for growth, density and transportation in the industrialized world, we will help rapidly growing nations avoid the problems associated with auto-dependent development.
These are difficult things but not impossible. They don't particularly impinge on our current way of life, in fact they bring back the sense of community and support that we so sadly lack in modern urbanised society.
It's not about C02 as a single item. Do not be distracted by the political agenda that claims reducing C02 will be the 'be all and end all' . . the panacea to our ills. It's a Furfy and a political diversion. It's not about Governments 'reacting' to the latest trend and singling out one solution to a diverse and global problem. It's about rebuilding community, sustainably, carefully, considerately. Do I think it's possible.
Yes. Is it likely. No . . not in my lifetime. Why? Because none of us really believe that one person can make a difference, none of us are really prepared to give up our creature comforts and because we don't step outside the square, none of us really believes just how fragile we are: