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Posts Tagged ‘policy’

A mail this morning from my friend Lynn Miller, at OrganicMania, made me realize I failed to properly close the chapter on all work that took place here on this blog, on critical issue of climate change:

I read your blog post on La M about the new direction, and really wanted to respond but felt like I should run this by you first….I am happy for you that you are on a path that excites you….but at the same time, I do really miss the old global warming focused La Marguerite. You were my main source of information and inspiration on global warming, and I felt a part of your community. I thought you were the top female voice on global warming, bar none, and one of the very top in the world (Ok, I really like Friedman, but you were up there!)   

Will you still be writing about global warming under “social issues?” I felt like in your post you were a bit dismissive of the incredible work you did in global warming. I’m sure I’m not the only one  who feels this way…

First, let me apologize for my haste and for appearing ‘dismissive’ of all the work that took place on La Marguerite, regarding raising awareness and looking for behavioral solutions to global warming. It is one thing for me to decide to take a turn. It is another to not properly acknowledge the community that formed and contributed so much. There has been many ripples from the discussions held at La Marguerite. Sharing of information that would not otherwise have made it into the mainstream media. Connections formed that led to enduring collaborations outside the scope of this blog. Acts of activism. Personal awakenings . . . Lynn is right. 

Still, I am closing the climate change chapter for good. After eighteen months of being a voice and a community organizer for climate solutions, it is time for me to move on, and leave it to others to carry the torch. With the election of Barack Obama, I feel the stakes are different, and the path is more clear. What is needed now, more than ever, are new policies, quick, and the support of the people to pass these new policies. 

I am very much looking forward to the opening of  the next chapter on La Marguerite, as discussed in earlier post. My professional interests are now gravitating towards social media and social change ventures, and it is only natural for my blog to follow. 

Let me end with a big thanks to all who contributed to the climate change chapter on La Marguerite. I wish you to continue your awesome work in the many venues available to you, both online and in the outer world. 

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How to Save the Planet in Five Easy Paragraphs‘. Now, that’s one catchy headline. No Impact Man‘s done it again. He got me hooked and reading his post, and all the comments below. Could it be that the answer to our big problem, lie in five easy paragraphs? I was hoping. It turns out, it is not so simple. Global warming is a big monster with many heads, all of which need to be dealt with, at the same time. No matter how we look at it, there is lots of work involved, for all parties involved. Scientists need to work like mad to develop groundbreaking technologies, many of them. Businesses need to market the right products. Governments at all levels need to set in place courageous policies. Influencers need to continue spreading the good word. And citizens need to take personal responsibility for their action, and stop consuming like there is no tomorrow. Because of the number of actors and roles involved, the complexity can become mind boggling. And my fantasy of a Super Green Conductor, that we could just follow blindly, has yet to materialize.

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Now is payback time

Great article from Vaclav Havel in the New York Times yesterday. He was able to put in words what I have been feeling for a long time. ‘Maybe we should start considering our sojourn on earth as a loan. There can be no doubt that for the past hundred years at least, Europe and the United States have been running up a debt, and now other parts of the world are following their example. Nature is issuing warnings that we must not only stop the debt from growing but start to pay it back. There is little point in asking whether we have borrowed too much or what would happen if we postponed the repayments. Anyone with a mortgage or a bank loan can easily imagine the answer.’

The bargaining problem

I can so well relate to the internal bargaining part, this vain attempt on the part of my ego to negotiate with nature. In my case, I am not questioning the need to repay with some kind of personal sacrifice. I am just wondering if, maybe, I can get away with not paying all of my personal debt back. OK, I will cut down on all the things that don’t deprive me that much, but the ones I really like, such as shopping for clothes, could I please keep on my to do list? I am also tempted to abdicate some of my personal responsibility and to turn it over to policy makers.

We are all responsible

I will leave the last word to Vaclav Havel. ‘I’m skeptical that a problem as complex as climate change can be solved by any single branch of science. Technological measures and regulations are important, but equally important is support for education, ecological training and ethics – a consciousness of the commonality of all living beings and an emphasis on shared responsibility.’

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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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Last night, during our after dinner walk with the dogs, I noticed the headlights of a car moving slowly towards you. “What’s this car doing?” I wondered. Prad thought the car was just an old car, that could not go any faster. “Wouldn’t it be great if all the cars suffered the same problem?” I started fantasizing about a world full of slow cars. And a 55 mph speed limit. No more deadly accidents, and imagine all the gas savings. It’s the same thing with leading a healthy lifestyle. Driving less, and walking or biking more, is better for us, and the environment. Eating less processed food, less meat is also an all around winner. Why can’t we do the things that are better for us in the first place? I can find some ready excuses. It would help me if there were regulations in place. Seeing all the other cars speeding on the freeway makes it hard to not speed as well. Plus, am not I supposed to go with traffic? I would bike if the city was more bike friendly. Right now, I don’t feel like sharing traffic with all the cars and trucks. On the food topic, I am a health nut already, so no excuses needed there. Bottom line, there is I the person, the city, and the state. All three need to work together. I don’t see any other way.

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