Thursday, October 15, 2009

How Fragile We Are - Blog Action Day 2009



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:



32 comments:

Moon said...

Being a confirmed Solar Power man, there are so many easy solutions that we can all do right now. The list of the small things are endless, but, whilst the huge nations of the USA and China continue to do fuck all, what is the point... people say..
Well, I believe in doing the small things you can. If you throw any kind of litter, then I should be allowed to come and through shit on your living room floor !

Increase petrol prices in the USA, that would soon stop the Hummer brigade in Newport Beach...

Gov't to pay for half of any cost associated with a factory, school, gov't building or home that uses Solar Power.. I am biased here, but seriously, since arriving here in Slovakia, I am amazed at the number of Solar companies, and houses etc that use the technology ..

Come on people, make a difference...

Alan Burnett said...

My goodness ... you got everything in there. It quite reminds me of the French philosopher Saint-Simon who once claimed that he had solved all the problems of mankind and was ready to tell the leaders of the then world if they would come to his lodgings in Paris. Hopefully you will be more successful than poor old Saint-Simon. You deserve to be.

Brian Miller said...

best one i have read yet baino...great practical suggestions, will it happen. perhaps it will have to get worse before we are motivated to help make it better. my fear being that it will will be too late.

mouse (aka kimy) said...

thought provoking post.

you've done a great job demonstrating the first rule of ecology - that is everything is connected!

I guess I am a bit more hopeful (or is it just a case of hopeless optimism) but I do believe that one person can make a difference.... all those one persons can really add up to be quite a force!

thanks for bringing blog action day to the attention of the theme thursday bloggyhood!

Grow Up said...

You are completely right. Unfortunately people are shit. The hard decisions will not be made because no-one wants to get the blame, whereas if it all falls apart "on it's own" then it ain't their fault. The current hat tips towards green stuff in the political domain are nothing more than more social engineering, give the public more to be scared of so we can keep them in their place.

laughingwolf said...

ok, i'll dust off my old persian flying carpet... again!

nick said...

It's a very complicated and confusing subject. As you say, there're so many conflicting ideas out there, it's hard to know what's really going on and what action to take. Some oil experts say oil won't peak until the 22nd century, some say it's already peaked. Where does that leave us?

The key to it all to my mind is excessive consumption, mainly in the West. Those of us who have wildly extravagant lifestyles always wanting yet another gizmo, yet another status symbol, yet another impressive accessory, are squandering resources and polluting the planet at a breathtaking rate.

Roy said...

Good work, Baino, especially in showing how interconnected the problem of climate change is with such other issues as poverty and human rights and nuclear proliferation. This is a stellar post!

Kate Hanley said...

Very True. And I agree, we're all guilty of contributing out of ease, ie, I'd rather drive my car 1/2 mile to a store to get milk because I'm too lazy to walk. So thanks for the reminder that while there's still a lot of work to be done, we have to start somewhere.

Ces said...

Let us all hold hands, Ohmnnnnnn...

1. invest in Al Gore's green company - he doesnt't care about his carbon footprint, only others'

2. Note to young people: Want to be employed? Study environmental science, water conservation...

Ohmnnnnn...

Water Rules! Too much water everywhere and not a DROP TO DRINK.

Terence McDanger said...

A very meticulous and well put together post Baino.

Colette Amelia said...

well I was expecting a not so calm and rational and thought provoking one from your tone in the introductory post! Stellar indeed!

Happy Birthday! I think it might be tomorrow today down under!

Poetikat said...

I do think that Sting's song really makes the plea (it tugs at the heartstrings and makes me well up everytime). He's been playing that song since what? the late 80s?
Still, not enough people are listening! I mean some actually think it's a big hoax! Can you believe that?
I do as much as I can in the knowledge that it's merely a drop in the bucket. We need so many more "drops" in that bucket.

Tom said...

you might be the most rational person i've ever read...great research and insights here, terrific wish list, actually.

e said...

Awesome, Baino! And a very Happy Birthday to you!

Wings said...

Wow - Quite the post. Thanks for all of it.

Darlene said...

This is an excellent post, Baino. I think you deserve an A+.

Dreamhaven said...

great TT post. Even if our effort is small, it can make a difference.

Kath Lockett said...

Kick arse post, mate.
Being married to a meteorologist means that we're very concerned about climate change, the environment etc and are trying our best to do what we can with the limited funds we have.

Now if the government would give us all free solar panels (not just the wanky $8000 worth that end up costing you $2000 but another $2000 for a special bracket and then will only give you about 10% power) - to cover ALL of our electricity needs and a free water tank, it'd be a start.

And so would NOT using plastic bags or buying bottled water and walking and riding more. Small things - if done by everyone - will make a difference.

My head hurts - so much crap put out by government for so many years now, when more active solutions could have been done in that time......

Rant over now - will go for a run instead.

Candie Bracci said...

What a powerful and brillant post Baino!Well done and I agree on all the points you are making,the onew we need to do!

Bimbimbie said...

Well said you. I agree it's much more than light bulbs and shower heads...

Religion needs to release it's grip on women's ovaries and get the heck out of politics.

and here's something to ponder with your morning cuppa ...

"The stupendous timespans of the evolutionary past are now part of common culture. We and the biosphere are the outcome of more than four billion years of evolution, but most people still somehow think we humans are necessarily the culmination of the evolutionary tree. That's not so. Our Sun is less than half way through its life. We're maybe only the half way stage. Any creatures witnessing the Sun's demise 6 billion years hence won't be human — they'll be as different from us as we are from bacteria."

Martin Rees,
(Professor of Cosmology & Astrophysics, Cambridge)

otin said...

Baino for President! :) I believe that it is a fifty fifty thing right now. I think that some of the climate change is a natural occurence, remember, when the vikings landed in Greenland, there were grapes growing there, and it is called Greenland after all. That being said, what we do has to have some negative affect on the environment. Car exhaust and factory smoke are not natural by products of the eco system. I am not an activist by any means, I just call it as I see it!

GayƩ Terzioglu said...

Happy Birthday Bainobabette!
Have a stupendous day and a (or more) nice glass of Chardy!
xoxo
G

krysandlucky said...

Wow! You've really done some research on this! I love that you brought up the empowerment as a form of change. Most people wouldn't think of that.

kj said...

hells, i'll be around soon. i've been away and no internet to boot. but i think of you with a grin, be sure of that.

xo!

Rowe said...

Great post, Baino. 'Our enemy is not climate change but human nature' hits the nail right on the head. I think wastage alone is a huge problem and I cringe when walking past shops filled with cheap, mass produced stuff that ends up as junk before the blink of an eye. Overpopulation, golly gosh that is a biggie, but what can we do to stop people breeding who through poverty cannot even feed themselves; and if we can stop people having children who cannot properly care for those children, those poor little darlings who end up as another DOCS statistic among the many others we don't even hear about, bring it on.

Moon said...

If anyone wants any help or advice with Solar Energy, I live with one of the best in the world.. seriously, she will help anyone with any issues they have x

Harnett-Hargrove said...

Bravo Baino! A well written treatise.-J

Kurt said...

"Global warming" has become a hot-button issue that divides people and stops progress. We can work to decrease pollution in the air, water and soil without arguing over a theory that can't be proven.

unstranger said...

Read this; http://www.independent.ie/lifestyle/the-book-that-will-make-the-greens-turn-puce-1916598.html

It's available from the 20th here; http://www.amazon.com/SuperFreakonomics-Cooling-Patriotic-Prostitutes-Insurance/dp/0060889578

The global warming story looks to be a big big scam!

Jasmine said...

Hello Baino, Please no, don't plant nettles. Look what happened with the rabbits and toads :)

I was just an example that nature has her own way of remedying her ailments. If we stop treating the earth so badly then she may have time to catch up.

Your comment about windmills - We parked underneath one last week and got out, walked around. They are not that noisy. Sure, when you are directly underneath, but at a healthy distance there is not too much noise.

iNdi@ said...

well written, thank you.
beginning with the philosophy of doing the least possible damage
and adding the practice of doing good where possible
is a first step.
like making a patchwork quilt
little bits DO count