ACTION, not Apathy

“The basic matter is not one of economics. It is a matter of morality — a matter of intergenerational justice. The blame, if we fail to stand up and demand a change of course, will fall on us, the current generation of adults. Our parents honestly did not know that their actions could harm future generations. We, the current generation, can only pretend that we did not know.”

~Dr. James Hansen

Early and provident fear is the mother of safety.

~ Edmund Burke (1727 – 1779)

Here are some tangible things you can do to help stop the global climate destabilization that we are heading toward if humans continue to pollute the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels indiscriminately.

  • SPEAK UP. Write, email and/or phone your elected leaders and let them know that you are concerned about climate change. In Canada, you can contact your local member of your provincial legislature as well as your Member of Parliament.  Remember, these people work for you as a voter! Join Citizens Climate Lobby to work with other people who are building the political will for a sustainable climate.
  • GET INVOLVED. Join local action groups, and get connected to other people in your local community that are concerned about this issue. Citizens Climate Lobby is an excellent, grassroots organization working to create the political will for a sustainable climate, as well as to empower individuals to have breakthroughs in exercising their personal and political power. The Transition Network is another grassroots movement that supports “community-led responses to climate change and shrinking supplies of cheap energy, building resilience and happiness”- go to their website to find a Transition group in your region, or to find out about how to start one.
  • GET EDUCATED. Learn about this issue – and be very careful about the credentials and funding of the websites and people you are listening to.  Climate scientists around the world have been working on and studying this issue for years, and they are not multi-millionaires. Exxon Mobile, on the other hand, is the biggest and richest corporation in the world, and makes money off of our addiction to fossil fuels. Who would you believe?
  • GO MEATLESS. Start decreasing your intake of meat by observing “meatless Mondays”. If you are already a vegetarian, congratulate yourself!  Livestock produce more greenhouse gases than all the world’s transport combined, with beef production singled out by a recent UN report as a particular enemy at the gate. Changing what we put on our forks and spoons can be a powerful tool to fight global warming.
  • EAT LOCAL.Our food system is highly dependant on the burning of fossil fuels.  Fruits and vegetables from China and New Zealand (for example) have a huge carbon footprint compared to those grown closer to home. Click here for more information.

No Impact, Colin Beavan’s website based on his experience of living a no-impact lifestyle for a year, has a list of  “Top Ten Eco-Lifestyle Changes”. They include giving up bottled water, observing an eco-sabbath (a regular time each week where you don’t use up any of the planet’s resources), dedicating a day’s worth of TV watching (~4 1/2 hours for the average North American) to eco-service  each week, and believing  with all your heart that how you live your life makes a difference to all of us. Click here to go Beavan’s website.

For more action ideas, go to these excellent websites:

Citizens Climate

Stop Global


There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long range risks of comfortable inaction. –  John F. Kennedy

13 thoughts on “ACTION, not Apathy”

  1. Does the average North American really watch 4 1/2 hours of television a day? Wow, and people wonder why they get nothing accomplished! This alone is motivation for people to get off the couch and do something productive with their lives, don’t you think!

  2. It’s mind-bloggling! That means if some of us are watching less, there’s a whole bunch of people watching a whole lot more.
    (And speaking of the NA lifestyle, so is the number of hamburgers consumed – I think it averages out to 1 1/2 per day per person in the U.S.!)

  3. Just one quick comment to add Christine.

    A couple of weeks ago we did our usual grocery shopping and bought what we thought was our usual locally grown B.C. hot house tomatoes.

    We got home only to discover the label (in extremely fine print of course) said grown in China! Surely they were kidding…we actually import tomatoes from China? I couldn’t believe it.

    But that wasn’t the worst of it. My wife went to cut one up and made a comment about the skins being unusually tough. Boy, was she ever right! It was darn nearly impossible to eat the skin portion where a good portion of the goodness usually is. I have to wonder how they grow these tomatoes in China.

  4. Yuck – how disappointing! Here in northwestern Ontario, the ones we get at this time of year are generally from Mexico – they never taste wonderful, but sounds like they are better than the Chinese ones!

    BTW, I just ordered “How Bad are Bananas – the carbon footprint of everything”. I’ll be interested to see how the Mexican ones fare vs. Chinese.

  5. The taste of a vine-ripened tomato from your own garden is dramatically better than anything coming from a grocery chain store. It has a luscious flavour unlike the plastic sent to us from unripened factories.

  6. I have been struck by what seems to me to be a growing group of what could be called climate change procrastinators. They concede the fact of global warming but fall back on the idea (faith) that we’ll come up with a man-made solution in due time and, hence, we should carry on with business as usual in the meantime. What they miss is that conditions can get a great deal worse, challenges far greater, solutions more severe if we play for time. This is a problem in which time is definitely not on our side. The best solutions slipped through our fingers in the late 60s when we didn’t know any better. We’ve been foreclosing out “next best” options ever since.

    As I’ve argued so many times before, global warming is but one of several critical issues that we cannot avoid addressing, many with some degree of attachment to climate change. Deforestation, desertification, air/soil/water contamination, species migration and extinction, pest and disease migration, overpopulation and population migration, resource depletion and exhaustion, the rapidly growing freshwater crisis, both cyclical and sustained droughts and floods, severe storm events of increasing frequency and intensity, and a host of security threats including the now permanent food crisis, terrorism, resource wars, nuclear proliferation and the surprisingly overlooked arms races especially in south and east Asia and possibly coming soon to South America.

    The telling thing about all these threats and challenges is that there is a common thread that runs through them. As Jared Diamond points out in Collapse, these are challenges that must all be solved if we’re to succeed in solving any of them. Radical as this may sound, we’ll not find that answer so long as we remain slaved to 18th century economics, 19th century industrialism, and 20th century geopolitics. Those institutions that served us and occasionally failed us in the past have lost their social and global utility. They were not formulated nor have they evolved to meet the demands of a 9-billion global population. Yet detaching from them may be the greatest hurdle standing in the way of avoiding collapse, or worse, in this 21st century.

  7. MoS – have you read Naomi Klein’s capitalism vs the climate essay? She makes the point that the push-back from the right-wing free-marketeers out there is so strong precisely because of the scope of the system change that is required to address all of the environmental crises you’ve listed above. Here’s the link

    Here’s an excerpt:

    Building such a transformative movement may not be as hard as it first appears. Indeed, if you ask the Heartlanders, climate change makes some kind of left-wing revolution virtually inevitable, which is precisely why they are so determined to deny its reality. Perhaps we should listen to their theories more closely—they might just understand something the left still doesn’t get.

    * * *

    The deniers did not decide that climate change is a left-wing conspiracy by uncovering some covert socialist plot. They arrived at this analysis by taking a hard look at what it would take to lower global emissions as drastically and as rapidly as climate science demands. They have concluded that this can be done only by radically reordering our economic and political systems in ways antithetical to their “free market” belief system. As British blogger and Heartland regular James Delingpole has pointed out, “Modern environmentalism successfully advances many of the causes dear to the left: redistribution of wealth, higher taxes, greater government intervention, regulation.” Heartland’s Bast puts it even more bluntly: For the left, “Climate change is the perfect thing…. It’s the reason why we should do everything [the left] wanted to do anyway.”

    Here’s my inconvenient truth: they aren’t wrong. Before I go any further, let me be absolutely clear: as 97 percent of the world’s climate scientists attest, the Heartlanders are completely wrong about the science. The heat-trapping gases released into the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels are already causing temperatures to increase. If we are not on a radically different energy path by the end of this decade, we are in for a world of pain.

    But when it comes to the real-world consequences of those scientific findings, specifically the kind of deep changes required not just to our energy consumption but to the underlying logic of our economic system, the crowd gathered at the Marriott Hotel may be in considerably less denial than a lot of professional environmentalists, the ones who paint a picture of global warming Armageddon, then assure us that we can avert catastrophe by buying “green” products and creating clever markets in pollution.

  8. Hi Christine. Thanks for that. The irony is that, whether the fossil fuelers/denialists succeed or not, we are going to move into new economic, political and societal modes. The question is how we’re to achieve the best of our options with the least disruption. But make no mistake, 18th century economics, 19th century industrialism and 20th century geopolitics have outlived their utility. These were models shaped to meet a far different reality than we face in the 21st century.

    Try to imagine a world of 9-billion people in the first half of the last century? Then toss in a variable like the looming freshwater crisis. What would you get? I suspect the answer would be seven billion dead people.

    We didn’t get to 7-billion by accident. It took a lot of economic and agronomic conjuring tricks. We’ve been defying gravity for decades. That’s evident in our draining of essential aquifers and global fisheries collapse. We have got this far only by eating our seed corn.

    At some point mankind will have to balance the books. The biosphere doesn’t have to live in harmony with us and it’s making that painfully clear. We have to live in harmony with our biosphere but we haven’t begun to craft the institutions – economic, political, environmental, societal – that we’ll have to adopt. I’m not sure that we’re wise enough to grasp that.

  9. Ah, yes – consequences/karma. It’s been a pretty great ride for those of us in the industrialized world who have benefitted from all that free labour in the form of millions of years of ancient sunlight we’ve been digging up and burning indiscriminately (not to mention polluting our own nest in myriads of other ways). We – and definitely our children and grandchildren – are going to be paying the piper.
    But there is still joy in life, and in fact in moving towards “powering down” community-building happens, and food gets better tasting when you grow your own/eat local, and we’ll all be more fit (and weigh less) when active transportation modes become more the norm than the exception.
    Have you plugged into the Transition movement yet? It’s a powerful way to prepare for the inevitable, and have some fun with like-minded people while you’re at it.


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