The end is near! Repent!
That line appeared on a sign in the movie “2012”. I’m a sucker for apocalyptic movies. There are some movies that inspire me and give me the confidence to accomplish anything in life, and then there are the movies where I can turn off my brain and watch a wonderful array of explosions and special effects. Every day the end isn’t here only makes it one more day closer.
These apocalyptic movies are fun because we as spectators don’t have to live with the fear that is motivating the cinematic characters. The characters are told to run, they run, and then everything behind them blows up.
There’s a great debate occurring around the world that also involves what some people are calling the beginning of the end – global warming. It’s become an incredibly politicized debate where the blindness of living in generalizations and motivational fear has skewed the truth to the point of non-recognition. The facts are pretty simple: glaciers are melting, flora and fauna are being found in locales that differ from their previous historical patterns, the earth has gone through warming trends before, and the earth has been obliterated many times before. I feel confident that most people could agree to these points.
But to rise above the politicized debate about the responsibility of mankind’s involvement with climatic changes, I’d like to ask the question – do you have the ability to save the world even if you had the chance?
There is no individual that possesses the power to save the world, but there is something that each person can do – save his or herself. You may think that the pollution emitted from your car has little to do with the pollution in the world or even in your immediate area, but if you decided to start your car inside an enclosed garage with you in it there’s a good chance you would fall into an eternal slumber. Maybe those emissions aren’t melting the glaciers, but they will kill you.
I’d like to propose a new campaign for improving the world – quit what’s bad for you. Do you not enjoy paying hundreds of dollars to have your car repaired? Drive fewer miles. Do you not enjoy paying higher costs for heating and cooling your home? Find a method for reducing active means for heating and cooling (i.e. means that cost you money) and implement passive strategies (i.e. free) to help heat and cool your home. Do you not enjoy in being in great physical shape? Then quit things that promote a sedentary lifestyle. Do you not enjoy sitting in traffic? Quit the things that make you sit in traffic.
I honestly don’t care what your political/religious/ethnic/comedic point of view is on global warming or anything else involving mankind’s role in any climatic changes on our planet. I believe we as individuals are focusing on the very, very big picture that apparently includes many points and counterpoints to its argument. Are the actions of people creating a hole in the ozone? Who can really prove that we are or aren’t responsible? Can people become more healthy by sitting in front of a television for five hours a day? Does driving more miles translate to more required maintenance? Do bigger homes require more money and resources to heat and cool them? Does sitting in traffic make people more sane? Does eating nothing but chocolate for every meal of the day promote a healthy lifestyle? Is it easier to catch up with our friends and family on Facebook while riding on a bus or while driving a car? These are the little things in our own lives that if we make the right decision – the decision in our own best interest – will make a meaningful impact.
Don’t worry, you can’t save the planet. But you can save yourself, and if enough people decide to do the same for themselves then maybe the planet will benefit from your selfishness.
This is a really smart idea in such a subtle way–if you take care of yourself and use less in general, then it’s one more drop in the Bucket of Helping the Situation. However, I’ve heard (but can’t put my finger on the source just now) that businesses use more energy and are worse for the environment than residences, so all the curbside recycling and replacing incandescents with CFLs won’t mean a thing until commercial buildings follow suit. We know what happens when businesses take care of themselves (i.e., the economic meltdown of the past 15+ months), so how do we make them take care of themselves differently?
Not that you have the answer, per se, but I’d be interested to heaer your thoughts.
I think there’s an inherent resistance towards making anyone (or anything such as a business) do something that is perceived as the common good and yet doesn’t benefit their own good. I think the people and entities promoting causes for the the common good need to align their goals with the goals of people and businesses who are more concerned with their own good.
Everyone has a goal for saving money, which can usually be accomplished by buying higher quality goods (which usually last longer) and buying fewer goods (fewer goods means fewer resources used to make them).
It’s going to require a complete shift in thought (that’s me trying not to use the word ‘paradigm’) of the worldwide capitalistic system that’s modeled after the false premise that we are provided with an infinite amount of cheap energy and cheap materials. The curbside recycling programs and CFLs are merely a stopgap until we as a society can understand what works in the long run and what doesn’t.
Saving the world is too big a goal for anyone. But by focusing on saving what really matters most to us there’s a great chance the environment will benefit. When my three year old son turns twenty the word ‘trash’ will probably no longer be a part of our vocabulary. That’s the moment we’ll know if we’re on the right path.