I spent a couple of hours yesterday watching “Live Earth” being generally uplifted by the music but generally disappointed by the musicians trying to show and talk about how their lives had changed. (How many water bottles did you count?) Nonetheless, I was moved to once again revisit my own footprint on this world this weekend and answer some tough questions about the future from my kids not just because of the concerts but because of two really interesting interviews I watched in the lead up.
The first was on Thursday night on CNBC with Al Gore. I’ve written here before that I’ve always liked Gore; in fact I did some volunteering for his presidential campaign way back in 1988, and I’ve admired most of his politics for a long time. I think the world would be a much different place had 2000 not happened, and, on a comparatively minor note, I think more people would be connected to broadband at this point if he had become president. But, enough of that. What I found compelling on Thursday was the obvious passion he has for this cause. He has said repeatedly that he doesn’t see himself running for president, that he thinks he can make more of an impact with what he’s doing (which in and of itself says something about the dreary state of governance in this country.) And I hope he sticks to that, because he is right. And I loved the way he framed the fight in terms of how future generations would see this moment. Hopefully they’ll ask “How did they find the will to change?” rather than “What the heck were they thinking?” (Those are not verbatim, btw.)
The other interview I saw was Friday night when Bill Moyers had scientist and author E.O. Wilson on to speak about the climate change crisis and the Encyclopedia of Life, which, if you haven’t checked it out yet, is an amazing, collaborative undertaking that is a best practice for the Web we know and love. I really urge you to watch the video as, in it, Wilson makes his own passionate case for action, noting that if we don’t make change in the next 10 years, over half of the mammal species currently alive will be extinct. His new book The Creation: An Appeal fo Save Life on Earth was written with a Southern Baptist preacher in mind, he says, in an attempt to bridge the schism between science and religion on the issue. (Read the summaries on the Amazon site for an overview.)
Anyway, while I know a lot of people will debate the urgency of all of this, I’m past the point of trying to understand why we wouldn’t do better by the environment just for the simple reason that it’s the right thing to do. And while I can’t always stop people from idling their cars and wasting water, (though I try) I can do that for myself. My amazing wife Wendy wrote a book about the things we can do to change our footprint, btw, and we’ve been trying for some time now to soften our impact. And so, not in any way to claim some moral superiority on the issue or to raise myself up as a poster child (because I am in no way even close to perfect) I just want to take a moment to document (once again) the steps we are trying to take:
- We buy organic, and preferably locally grown foods. (That last part is the key.)
- We donâ€™t eat meat, chicken and certain kinds of fish due to environmental effects the production of those items cause.
- We buy things that come in recyclable packaging or no packaging at all.
- We recycle everything we can. (See this site.)
- We bring cloth or plastic IKEA bags to the grocery store for reuse (and we get 3 cents a bag back!)
- We give away rather than throw away.
- We use Freecycle
- We ask for no bag when we donâ€™t absolutely need one.
- We reuse plastic bags (of which this country throws away 15 millions a day.)
- We have plastic coffee and water cupsâ€¦my wife insists on NO PLASTIC BOTTLES (of which this country throws away 2.5 million every hour.)
- We buy bathroom tissue made from recyled products.
- We buy carbon offsets for all of the plane travel and road travel we do.
- We buy biodegradable dish and clothes washing soap.
- We buy used clothes for ourselves and our kids.
- We turn our thermostat down to 60 at night.
- We use flourscent light bulbs.
- We replaced our gas heater with a wood pellet stoves.
- We replaced many of our old appliances with energy saving, efficient ones.
- We replaced our old toilets with water saving ones, but
- We still flush every other time (unless of courseâ€¦)
- We make sure our faucets don’t leak.
- We trap the cold water that starts every shower in containers for use elsewhere (plants, dishes, etc.)
- We turn off every light when not in use.
- We only buy stuff that we really NEED (82% of the time, at least.)
- We compost kitchen scraps.
- We reuse plastic utensils.
- We reuse aluminum foil, and we try not to use plastic wrap.
- We are involved in political campaigns.
- We sign petitions.
- We volunteer at soup kitchens and such, though not as much as weâ€™d like to.
- Weâ€™re still saving to buy a Prius.
This year, Wendy and I really want to try the 100-mile diet, though it will be tough. But buying locally produced food is one of the best things we can do to lower carbon emissions. (If you want to read a great book on the subject, try Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, and then give it to someone else to read.)
Anyway, I hope that’s making a difference. Try explaining to a seven year old why the Earth as we know it may be gone in his lifetime and you get pretty motivated…
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