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Archive for September, 2007

When I am inside my house, I feel protected and safe. Almost invincible. Nothing can get to me. I just thought of that, late last night, as I was reading the results from the International Panel on Climate Change Working Group II report on, ‘Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability’. Scary stuff. Yet, all these disastrous predictions felt abstract. I started wondering why. Why was I feeling so calm and detached? That’s when it hit me. In the sanctity of my house, I am removed from nature, on a primary, physical level. The prehistoric man in his cavern, had to respect nature. There were no screens between him and the outside world. Nature was all around and made its presence felt, with all its awesome power. Now when lightning strikes, I don’t have to be so afraid. I’ve got the thick walls of my house and a concrete roof over my head to shelter me.

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Today, in my mailbox: 1) Cabelas Deer Hunting catalog, a remnant of my days as a performance artist, when I was looking for a camouflage outfit; 2) Garnet Hill clothing and home decor catalog, addressed to my husband’s ex, and still coming to our house; 3) Van Dyke’s taxidermy catalog, from the times when I was making sculptures. Today is a light day. Usually, we get a lot more junk mail. With Green Dimes, there is really no reason why I should tolerate such wastage any longer.

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Whole Foods is as much a social place, as a grocery store. I will seize any excuse to go there, just to break the monotony of a whole day spent working at home. Since I work from home everyday, that pretty much means daily trips to WF. Green Guru thinks I am not being efficient. I should be planning better, and find other ways to entertain myself.

What I need: Exorbitant gas prices that will make me think twice before I get in the car. Even better, citywide bans on private vehicles, like in Bogota, where cars are only allowed to circulate at certain times of the day. A city bike lane infrastructure, where cyclists don’t have to share the road with cars.

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It’s good to confess all my eco-sins, like I do, and to explore remedial actions. It’s good, and it can only go so far. Higher up in the decision chain, are investors in corporations. These people have tremendous power to influence big business environmental decisions. They can vote with their wallets, and decide which companies get funded. Today’s New York Times has this article in the Business Section, about ‘Gas Emissions Rarely Figure in Investors Decisions’:

Corporations have become better about disclosing their greenhouse gas emissions and somewhat better about curbing them. But few investors are using that information to decide where to put their money. That was the gist of the fifth annual report of the Carbon Disclosure Project, a nonprofit group that monitors corporate disclosure related to climate change. The group, which gathers its data through surveys, represents 315 institutional investors that manage a total of $41 trillion in assets. “Large companies are finally taking their jackets off, rolling up their sleeves and examining how they use energy and otherwise deal with climate change,” said Paul Dickinson, chief executive of the project. . . But there was little agreement among companies within industries on the effect of climate change . . . More troubling to the project’s executives, though, is that few companies include climate-related data in their filings to the Securities and Exchange Commission. The result, the report said, is that the ramifications of climate change have not yet translated into “concrete investment decisions of any scale.”

The reports also cites the issue of the reliability of the information provided by corporations. Currently there is no independent body to verify the information provided to investors. None of this stuff is sexy, but given the tremendous power of investors to influence corporate environmental policies, it may be a good idea to legislate the whole process. First step should be that companies collect mandatory climate-related data. Second, data should be verified by independent body. Third, companies should be mandated to include climate-related data in their SEC filing.

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Waiting in line at Whole Foods checkout counter. Thoughts:

‘Shoot, I forgot the damn bags again. I have the red Trader Joe’s bag in the car. I could go get it. That probably would not be enough for all I got. Plus I am tired. Don’t feel like going back to the car. I really should. (Clerk asks me the ‘Paper or Plastic’ question). ‘Plastic. Lets try to put everything in one bag. The rest I will carry’. Not bad, at least I am limiting the damage. If I had not said anything, it would have been two extra plastic bags for each gallon of milk, and a paper bag for the soup. I give myself a B.’

This is the kind of scenario that plays in my head, over and over again. I am constantly bargaining, berating myself for not being green enough, then I try to make up, some other ways.

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The Art of Navy Showers

Navy Shower anyone? I just found this post in TreeHugger, where the writer advocates that we all take abbreviated showers, just like those guys in the Navy. There is even a method to it. And since we are in America, even the simplest things come with an instruction manual . . . You may go to Wikipedia and find complete instructions for how to take a Navy Shower. In short, you just turn the shower on, just enough to get yourself wet, turn it off, soap yourself, and then turn it back on to quickly rinse.

The Farm Showers of my grandfather

This reminds me of my days back in my grandparents’ farm, when we did not have a shower. My grandfather was the only one to take a full ‘shower’ once a week. I still remember him stripping down to his underwear, and getting into the ‘abreuvoir’, what looked like a big cement bath tub, and was really meant as a drinking station for the cattle. The sight of him almost naked in the cold morning air used to make me shiver. The ‘Farm Shower’ – I just made up that word – consisted of one bucket of cold water poured over his head, quick soaping, and rinsing with a few more buckets of cold water. The women, my grandmother, my mother, and I, were content enough with occasional hand baths, using our ‘gant de toilette’, the French version of washcloth, which literally means toilet mitten. According to American standards of hygiene, we may have been dirty, but our lives did not suffer, and the clean country air did its share to minimize our natural body odors.

I love American Showers

Fast forward fourty years. While I look back on these years on the farm with great nostalgia, I certainly do not miss those hand baths. And I regard the long, hot American showers as a hard won indulgence that I am not willing to give up. I love the gushing of water, the washing away of the impurities of the day, the warm cocoon of the shower, where for a few minutes I can let my body relax. It is my daily version of a cheap massage. A luxury I am taking for granted. Of course, I am well aware it may not last. Water is going to become the new oil, a resource so precious that people may wage wars because of it. For now, I am not hearing, or seeing anywhere in my radar screen, that I am to stop taking long, hot showers.

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My pain in the neck is trying to tell me something

These last few weeks, I have developed a real intense pain in the neck. It’s gotten to the point where I can barely function. Physical therapy, Ibuprofen, massages, nothing helps. Prad thinks I am either too tense, or working too much on the computer. He is probably right. I have been taxing myself, and my body is letting me know. What does that have to do with global warming, you may wonder?

Listening to nature

We all need to listen to nature. Whether it is listening to the feedback from one’s own body, or the unmistakable signs of the planet heating up, we better take notice. Or else we run the risk of no longer being able to function. I am bitching and moaning that my body just won’t bend to my will. I would like to believe that I am the mistress in my own house. The reality is, nature is. From the few biology classes I took, I retained a sense of awe for the intelligence of nature. Nature is the most well regulated factory I know of, with elaborate systems of checks and balances, to make sure that we do not deviate too much from the equilibrium.

The problem of selective listening

This friend of mine came over for dinner this weekend. The conversation very quickly steered towards environmental issues. She is a staunch supporter of the ‘global warming is a hoax’ theory. Her latest is a study from an MIT professor, that she will post in her business blog. “The facts, Marguerite, check the facts”. I was left, puzzled. How can my friend, who is supposedly an intelligent person, come to such conclusions? Green Guru asked her if she would still buy a beach front property? “I have no interest in that”

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