And we're back.

Sure has been a long time for the vast readership out there - how y'all been handling the break?

There are two basic elements that are part of the lack of updates. The first, higher-level, public reason is that I've been working a lot on things not related to environmentalism - basically, I've been busy. Which is fine.

In addition to just not having a lot of free time, though, the trailing-off-then-ceasing of updates basically resulted in environmentalism, climate change, and the next stage of human social organization (and, y'know, stuff) getting pushed onto the mental back burner, which is, perhaps understandable.

That is, it's understandable, but not okay.

Because here's the truth of the matter - it happens to everyone. We all have lives, and the simple truth is that for 99% of us, environmentalism and the consequences of climate change are not a part of our day to day life. The evidence, infrastructure, and industrialization is there, if you know where to look for it - but so is physics, and chemistry, and philosophy, and theatrical lighting design, and all sorts of other academic pursuits. It's true that every time we change a light bulb, we're making a choice (say, between incandescent and compact fluorescent - or even a LED fixture) and continuing to use electricity and all the things that come with that, and every time we do we could take it as an object lesson in environmentalism... but more often than not, we don't. I don't, anyway.

Which probably explains some things. The spectre of climate change is so huge and so spread out across the world (even if is concentrated primarily in developed, Northern Hemisphere nations) that it's hard to bring down to an individual level. In order to work against it, we really have to learn about the issues and keep them constantly in mind.

So should we? It amounts to social reorganization, essentially - and, taken further, begs for worldwide intellectual unity on a subject that isn't even agreed on by members of the US congress (which is, maybe, a bad example). Putting climate change and environmentalism into people's daily thoughts is a huge job.

But I, personally, don't see another way of accomplishing anything. We can rely on our governments and scientists and maybe the occasional retired statesman or rich, philanthropic businessman. We can keep our faith of "action" in the governmental sense - new policies, huge solar and wind farms, carbon taxes (or cap and trade), NGO fundraisers, all those things.

But all the evidence to date suggests that the sorts of things that'll come out of political compromises will be too slow. Even the ambitious goals of the B-Man Obama - assuming they get out of Congress unchanged, which won't happen anyway - aren't ambitious enough.

So the only alternative left to us is to act ourselves. Not as revolutionaries, or even activists. Again, 99% of us don't have the time and will for that - it takes a rare breed in all but the most special circumstances.

What is left to us - and what can make the difference - are the small choices. We don't want to see taxes raise, it's true, but to be responsible world citizens we may need to spend a little more.

We can drive a little less, and a little less heat will escape into space.

We can buy organic, local, environmental-responsible products. They're more expensive, it's true - but maybe then the ocean deadzones will shrink a little, and there'll be fewer cargo ships bringing our our grapes up from Chile. We can eat a little less beef, or choose the more responsible, smaller scale, local stuff over the industrial food-lot stuff at fast food restaurants. We can honor the restaurants that make a point of being sustainable with our business, and make the effort to support them.

We can choose more responsible forms of power, and as we show our demand, they'll respond. They'll build more solar, wind, geothermal; they'll hire more scientists, and make the technology better and more proven. It will be slow, but with a bit of willpower - a tiny pinch for each of us - the mass of this whole thing will grow.

But most importantly, we can think and talk about this thing. This climate change, this environmentalism - this change.

We haven't created this change - that was done slowly, over the last century and a half, by our parents, grandparents, and great grandparents. But we continue the change, every day of our lives, and that makes us party to us. We can ponder what it is, what it will be - and whether we can take the reigns away from habit and choose our own destiny.

Because this isn't just about the danger of climate change. That's what I've realized - and one of the things that gave me pause about coming back to this project, because the name - this goal of 450 by 2050 - doesn't encompass everything I want to talk about any more. I don't just want to think about the danger and prevention. We, as a generation, have been given a chance to consider our destinies. Climate change is dangerous, too - but so is how we confront it. It has the opportunity to open our eyes, and ask us whether this is really what we want.

And it gives us a chance to reinvent ourselves and our society. Not in a huge way, perhaps - maybe most things are fine the way they are, I don't know. But the truth is that we didn't decide the society we were born into - and if we continue as we are, unthinking, then we'll never have the choice.

So let's think about it, together and apart, and figure out if the current form of it all is really what we want. Confronted with this fear, though - and these very real dangers - it's hard to imagine someone answering "Yes."

1 comment:

  1. All you say is true and I agree with you on most of your points. Of course it makes more sense to eat organic, local food and to change your light bulbs to more eco-friendly versions, but the underlying fact that seems to be driving you is that there is some sort of earth shattering change going on in our environment.

    I agree that we are slowly destroying this world, probably faster in the past few decades than ever before, but you also have to remember that this earth had cycles to it long before we came around. The ice ages and the floods and hello that meteor that hit and killed the dinosaurs, those all were events that changed the world. And for the majority of them (excluding the whole dinosaurs thing) they were events that happened because of the earth and her cycles, not because of humans or animals or plants disrupting the earth.

    Granted us living here and destroying precious resources sucks and we're killing off more trees, plants and animals than we can reproduce so yes we're harming the world in that sense. But I don't think that this whole "The world is going through global warming" thing is valid. The earth has cycles and it's just time for another one to occur (at least that's what I think) Disagree with me if you want and that's fine if you do I just think that all these government and political people who are throwing the rest of the public mass into a tailspin of despair should really look at the big picture and look at history as a whole instead of just focusing on what's happened in the past few decades or even the past century.

    I applaud you for being as open-minded about this as you are and for establishing the fact that no one really has time to do more than just think about what it is they would like to do to change the world. I know I think about that every time I'm in the car going to work. It sucks that I have to drive and waste gas and pollute the air in the process, but it's a fact of this modern life I live in this "modern" world we've created.