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Posts Tagged ‘climate fight’

A wind of morality has been blowing all over, from the greenwashing watchddogs at Greenwashingindex, to companies broadcasting their good deeds in corporate citizenship reports, to the buzz about sustainability in the blogosphere. It is happening. JWT calls it the ‘emerging new spirit of good-citizen ethics’. Like the EcoMoms phenomenon, however, it is a movement, still confined to a fringe of the American culture.

The good citizen ethics certainly has not made its way through the streets of our cities. From The Open Planning Project in New York City, here is a very thought-provoking video on the ethics of urban automobility, featuring Randy Cohen, The Ethicist from the New York Times – thanks Kyle, for sending the video my way:

I agree with Randy Cohen that ethics cannot be left to individual moral choice. Instead ethics need to be embedded in wise policies, to be decided democratically by informed citizens. The problem of the individual car is just one example of the many environmental villains that are threatening our very existence. One precursor of ethics is consciousness. The more we watch and engage in discussions such as the one in the video, the more aware we become and the more ready we will be to define and accept a new code of ethics. That new code will make room for the consequences of our personal actions when we pollute our environment.

I am really curious to hear your thoughts on that one!

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I have noticed an interesting phenomenon over the last few days. My once electric enthusiasm for Barack Obama is waning. Gone the frequent visits to the Huffington Post. Gone, the comments left on any post even remotely connected with my man. Gone, the daily check ins with local headquarters. I am suffering from Obama fatigue. I will answer to MoveOn‘s one click calls to petition the Super Delegates, or their Facebook plea for $2.30. That I can do, will do, still. More, I am just too burnt out. Even the ‘movement‘ cannot carry me on.

The same fatigue factor applies to the climate fight as well. How does one get people interested and engaged, without running the risk of losing them down the road? This is a big problem, particularly with influencers, and people with the most power to impact outcomes. Any ideas?

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EcoMoms have made it to the front page of the New York Times. This is an impressive group of green moms, 9,000 altogether, and growing strong. A group that is representative of a very active subculture in Northern California where I live. These women are on a mission and nobody can resist them, not even their husbands or children. They fill Whole Foods‘ parking lot with their Priuses, and are not shy about voicing their newly found green convictions all over the blogosphere, as in here, and here, and here.

Reading the article, one would be tempted to think that all is well on the mommy’s front, environmentally speaking. Until reality steps in. This morning, a friendly visit to my four year old neighbor’s house turned into an anthropological tour of American consumerism at its worst. Little Rachel wanted me to blow bubbles with her, and took me to her backyard. There, sitting in the middle of her parents’ picnic table, a big plastic thing dared me with its massive plastic construction. The Iplay Outdoor Bubble Machine from Target, ‘has a large capacity bubble mix tank for high volume bubble production’ and has a five star ‘guest rating’. It can be yours for $24.99.

Are EcoMoms Taking Over?

The Iplay Outdoor Bubble Machine, unfortunately, is more representative of the reality of American moms today, than the EcoMom Alliance.

I only need to look at myself to understand why. As a mom, I have found it incredibly hard to resist the temptation of materialism, and I have documented my struggles often in this blog, as in here, and here, and here, and here. This being said, women do represent a positive force for the climate fight, as supported by all the latest research.

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Another environmental summit. Another admonition to get our act together:

The three-day General Assembly debate on climate changed wrapped up yesterday with the body’s President issuing a call for increased global partnerships to tackle the issue.

The event – entitled “Addressing Climate Change: The United Nations and the World at WorkA” – was held at UN Headquarters in New York and included addresses by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg; panels featuring media, government and business leaders; and plenary meetings featuring 115 delegates.

Addressing Climate Change


What is evident is “that the actions necessary to address climate change are so intertwined that they can only be tackled through combined efforts,” Assembly President Srgjan Kerim said in his closing remarks to the debate.

But despite the importance of partnerships, he underscored that individuals can also make a difference in the battle against global warming.

“Small contributions add up,” Mr. Kerim pointed out. “Many of our speakers made the case that we can all make a difference through simple changes to our daily behaviour.”

He also spotlighted the link between addressing climate change and sustainable development, nothing the need for the creation of low-carbon economies which can in turn promote growth.

With all the talks about corporate and government responsibility, it is easy to forget where the problem starts, and the role we can play as individual citizens. This is more fuel for the idea I have been pushing, of a national advertising campaign for climate fight, to make citizens more aware and to persuade them to change their behaviors.

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Things are shaking on the other side of the ocean.

First, is Do the Green Thing‘s latest monthly challenge. This time it is, ‘Do February’s Green Thing. Turn your heating down a bit or off for a bit and use your body warmth.‘ Check it out, it is hilarious, and a brilliant example of what humor can do to help people change their behaviors:

Do The Green Thing

And thanks Cowrin, over at Suitably Despairing, for reminding me of what great things, Do The Green Thing has set out to accomplish. I was so inspired that I immediately sent a Be My Body-Warming Valentine to Prad. Never mind that I am a week early. I just couldn’t wait.

Second, is the Carbon Fast initiative started by the Episcopalian Church, in the context of Lent. I have to thank Lynn, from Organic Mania, for the tip:

The Church of England is urging people to cut down on carbon, rather than chocolate, for Lent this year.

Two senior bishops within the church are joining with development agency Tearfund in calling for a cut in personal carbon use for each of the 40 days of Lent, which begins tomorrow.

The Bishop of Liverpool, James Jones, who is also vice-president of Tearfund, and the Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, have launched the “carbon fast” in response to what they say is an “urgent need” to reduce carbon emissions, and to protect poor communities around the world that are “already suffering from the ravages of climate change”.

The 40-day plan lists simple energy-saving actions that can lead towards a lighter carbon footprint, including snubbing plastic bags, giving the dishwasher a day off, insulating the hot-water tank and checking the house for drafts.

Participants are asked to begin the carbon fast by removing one light bulb from a prominent place in the home and live without it for 40 days, as a constant visual reminder during Lent of the need to cut energy. On the final day of the fast, people are encouraged to replace the missing bulb with an energy-saving bulb.

Jones said: “Traditionally people have given up things for Lent. This year we are inviting people to join us in a carbon fast. It is the poor who are already suffering the effects of climate change. To carry on regardless of their plight is to fly in the face of Christian teaching.

“The tragedy is that those with the power to do something about it are least affected, whilst those who are most affected are powerless to bring about change,” he added. “There’s a moral imperative on those of us who emit more than our fair share of carbon to rein in our consumption.”

Will we listen to the Brits, and with them, remember that ‘Yes, We Can‘? We can change, and start taking action on behalf of our planet.

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Day 28 of Daily Footprint Project. Cold, and rainy. I had to go out twice, once to a doctor’s appointment, and then to the pool. Both outings in the five miles range, a perfect ‘bike it’ distance. ‘Pervenche‘ was waiting, and I had made such a big deal of looking for the perfect bike and finding it, and being ready to ditch my car, that I felt obligated to come through.

What happened next is less glorious. I was busy blogging, making comments on the Huffington Post. Lots of posts on global warming today, and I had to make my opinion heard. Came 12. 30, the time when I could still have made it to the doctor on my bike, and I had to decide. To bike or to drive. The computer screen was luring me with one more post to comment on. Ten minutes more, that’s all I needed. What the heck! Forget my green conscience, forget all the promises to myself, and to my readers. The temptation of convenience, of minutes shaved away for more blogging about environmental concerns, was too great. The truth is I love my car.

This is the kind of stuff that I would push back in the recess of my mind, and my heart, if I was not committed to telling the truth, all of it. Am I embarrassed? Yes. The irony of the situation does not escape me. Today, I was a Green Hypocrite. I could dwell in self-loathing. More interesting, though, is to get down to the root of my behavior, to understand as I have tried in the past, what causes the split between my rather high awareness, and those moments when I choose to not act accordingly. This is where it is important to pay attention to thoughts, no matter how seemingly mundane, for they hold clues to the intrinsic human problem at the root of climate change. Going back to that 12.30 moment, when I had to decide, to bike or to drive, here is what I found:

Laziness. Priorities. A drop in the invisible cloud of CO2. It won’t make a difference. I am having so much fun, don’t want to be bothered. Habit. Comfort. Convenience. How bad is it anyway, to drive such short distance once or twice a day? It can’t hurt that much. Effort, I don’t want to make the effort. The weather wasn’t even that nice. My time is precious. The extra time spent biking, I can use doing other ‘more productive’, more important things, such as working on green projects. Nothing is going to happen if I drive instead of biking. No consequences. I don’t have the discipline. What’s in it for me? The car, so fast, such a proven entity. I can zip in and out of places. I know, I should bike. But it’s such a small thing. Today, I can ‘sin’, only once, maybe twice. I will get it right some other time. Ah! the immediate pleasure of blogging away, versus the higher satisfaction of a clean conscience. Big, instant pleasure over small dent in my green conscience. Pleasure wins. I can’t even see that CO2 anyway. It’s invisible. A crime without the evidence to prove it. Everybody else is driving anyway, or almost everyone. I am too wrapped up into the moment. The present supersedes any hypothetical concerns about the consequence of my small actions for the whole planet, myself included. There are two issues. The lack of immediate consequence for my action. And the dilution of personal responsibility, the big pot problem.

There is a lot to be learned from that thought soup – I stole the words from Nadine – Lots of insights, not just about myself, but more importantly, about the human condition in relationship to climate change. What are the personal obstacles to change? How can these can be best addressed? I just followed a fascinating exchange on DotEarth, between Andrew Revkin, and his readers, on that same topic yesterday. The discussion did not suffer from a lack of opinions . . . and intellectual ramblings. What is missing most in many of the climate change conversations, is that connection to the psychological reality of the individual. That reality affects individuals in their personal lifestyle choices, their professional choices as influencers, deciders, and politicians. It is probably the single most important factor, besides technology, with the potential to critically alter the course of climate change.

 

Daily Footprint Project
Daily Log
Day #28

Water
personal:
flush toilet 3
wash face 2
brush teeth 2
wash hands 5
shower at pool 2
mom:
wash fruit
communal:
rinse dishes
wash vegetables
wash rice

Electricity/gas
personal:
electric toothbrush 4’
microwave tea 2’
microwave milk 2’
laptop on all  day
microwave oatmeal 4’
mom:
communal:
lights
bake chicken in oven 30’
stir fry zucchinis 4’
microwave rice 30’

Food
personal:
tea
organic milk
organic persimmons 2
organic chocolate
oatmeal
mom:
grapes
breakfast pastries from Whole Foods
communal:
baked organic chicken
organic brown rice
organic zucchinis
organic salad

Waste
personal:
toilet paper
mom:
communal:
3 newspaper plastic wrappers
chicken packaging
zucchini package
salad plastic 

Recycling
personal:
mom:
communal:
2 papers

Transportation
personal:
drive to appointment (stop by Trader Joe’s on way back) 5 miles
drive to pool 6 miles
mom:
communal:

Non food shopping
personal:
mom:
communal:

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