Thursday, October 15, 2009

Waste not Want not: Blog Action Day 2009

Climate change - are we being force-fed the new terrorism?

I´m not a scientist, but that doesn´t stop me being titillated by the prospect of debate.

Every now and again I check out George Monbiot´s blog to see what he´s got to say. My friend Coco suggested I watch The Great Global Warming Swindle, I thought why not - you´ve got to know both sides of the story...

I thought it was interesting, and quite convincing... the scientists are quibbling over whether current climate change is caused by us, more specifically our CO2 emissions, or whether it´s a result of solar activity. For all I know it could be both... We don´t live in a vacuum - climate will inevitably change, so what do I care? Well, arguing about the causes for me is largely beside the point.

The point for me is that we need energy, well that´s why we eat, isn´t it? On the very simplest level, life is energy and we require energy to live. This makes it ubiquitous but at the same time highly valuable, you know, just like water (another often taken for granted requisite for life). So the bone I´ve got to pick is not about what´s causing climate change - but how we waste and misuse the energy that is available to us and in the process cause damage to ourselves and other species and possibly prevent a more equitable distribution of energetic currency. CO2 is a killer - as can be seen from one suicidal practice and if you´ve become asthmatic like me you can most probably attest to the discomfort of running to catch a train or bus in the city...

In the (over) developed world we´re living, like some hormone-injected cow, on the edge of the "golden age" of consumerism - the sickness of plenty. The more you have, the more you waste. Recycling is not new. When you have less you value little things more. There are no end to the old sayings that reflect this: one man´s rubbish is another man´s treasure. We wallow in our own depressing solipsism: if it has no value for me, it has no value for anyone. Me, me, Me, me, ME! We´re the prey of modernism: new = better. What happened to "If it ain´t broke don´t fix it" - do we have a choice? No! Nothing´s designed to last too long, companies would lose future markets, and anyway they can produce it, export it and sell it for cheaper than anyone can fix it. What a waste!

Oh yeah and time, don´t forget how we can waste time by "saving" time. So we spend our life buzzing around like blue-arsed flies - it´s always quicker by car (haha) - and then we find we´re stressed and don´t know how to wind down. So we drive to the gym to do some exercise or to the yoga centre to do some meditation. Maybe biking to work would give you that adrenaline rush and walking to school would give you time to think about things. We should do ourselves a favour, giving ourselves more time to do things that take longer, sacrifice a bit of comfort to taste the air, see what´s happening in the world.

Climate change could just be a tag being put on the tip of that environmental iceberg which contains all the harmful consequences of our interference with our environment - there are countless pollutants we´ve used over the last 100 years or so, countless projects tweaking nature to serve us better but having unconsidered consequences for someone or something else further down the cycle. It´s quite easy to see carbon deposits as a resource which is now depleting - we extract until there´s nothing left, big deal, the bowl´s empty. However the water cycle is highly complex - it involves everything from rocks to trees, from people to seas. What happens to the ground when water is over-exploited from the catchment area? What happens to the soil when the trees are burnt or chopped down. What about the water capacity of woods and forests? What happens to the delta when the river´s dammed up stream, what happens to the plants waiting for the river´s food to flood over them? Why is a natural disaster always said to be "natural"? Greed, carelessness and lack of consideration are human disasters.

I wouldn´t be a vegetarian if I didn´t think that small gestures can affect the world, habits can be changed if you think it matters - imagine, I used to love meat!

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