More on the ‘Act’ stuff!

The business of acting to make a difference.

The future depends on what we do in the present. – Mahatma Gandhi

Yesterday, I republished a long essay from Bill McKibben under my title of Stop, read, reflect and Act!    Bill’s essay was called Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math and terrifying the numbers are!

If you didn’t read it yesterday, I encourage you to do so as soon as you can.  Why?  Because the process of change cannot start until we truly want to change; a total emotional commitment.  And the formation of those emotions, that realisation, requires a new understanding of the world around us, who we are and who we want to be.  An outcome that is all part of being better informed, which is why the McKibben essay is so profoundly important.

Tomorrow, I want to explore that process of personal change.

But before then, let me go back and repeat some words in Bill’s essay that really jumped off the page and hit me between the eyes.

Writing of Germany, Bill said, “… on one sunny Saturday in late May, that northern-latitude nation generated nearly half its power from solar panels within its borders. That’s a small miracle – and it demonstrates that we have the technology to solve our problems. But we lack the will.

We lack the will!!

Then in the next paragraph, Bill went on to write,

This record of failure means we know a lot about what strategies don’t work. Green groups, for instance, have spent a lot of time trying to change individual lifestyles: the iconic twisty light bulb has been installed by the millions, but so have a new generation of energy-sucking flatscreen TVs. Most of us are fundamentally ambivalent about going green: We like cheap flights to warm places, and we’re certainly not going to give them up if everyone else is still taking them. Since all of us are in some way the beneficiaries of cheap fossil fuel, tackling climate change has been like trying to build a movement against yourself – it’s as if the gay-rights movement had to be constructed entirely from evangelical preachers, or the abolition movement from slaveholders.

This is what hit me between the eyes, “the iconic twisty light bulb has been installed by the millions, but so have a new generation of energy-sucking flatscreen TVs.”  That describes me to perfection.  OK, we have installed solar panels as well but I admit to a significant degree of ambivalence! ” tackling climate change has been like trying to build a movement against yourself

Let me remind you of Bill’s next paragraph,

People perceive – correctly – that their individual actions will not make a decisive difference in the atmospheric concentration of CO2; by 2010, a poll found that “while recycling is widespread in America and 73 percent of those polled are paying bills online in order to save paper,” only four percent had reduced their utility use and only three percent had purchased hybrid cars. Given a hundred years, you could conceivably change lifestyles enough to matter – but time is precisely what we lack.

So it comes down to change; change in a timely manner, to boot!

Let’s hold that until tomorrow and I will leave you with this: Put your future in good hands – your own.

9 thoughts on “More on the ‘Act’ stuff!

  1. Love your posts because they always display your great enviromental concern and your pure animal love .
    Interesting post,as always,successfully sensitising the reader.


    1. Dear Doda, You have no idea how rewarding a simple thank-you is to this funny, old Englishman. So to you, and all the others who take the trouble to comment, a very big ‘thank you’ in return. Paul


  2. I do not think that anyone should beat themselves up about having a flat-screen TV. Whilst McKibbin may be right to take a shot at tokenism; a very great deal would be achieved if, as in Europe, incandescent light-bulbs were phased out and replaced with low-energy versions. In addition, if people were to become self-sufficient in energy terms (by means of micro-generation from biogas, solar, wind, hydroelectric, or whatever) they could have a fully-lit tennis court on their mini-ranch and still have a completely clear conscience. 🙂

    However, I think we must permit people some luxuries and, IMHO, flat-screen TVs would be among them. Nevertheless, in order to justify this indulgence, I think all forms of high-energy lighting should be phased-out (for use in centrally-generated power networks at least). This would mean banning all halogen bulbs (other than 12v) in favour of those twisty-bulbs and light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Indeed, as energy costs continue to rise, I think this will now happen by default.

    Many of those who profess to be sceptical are, in fact, ideologically opposed to anything or anyone who seems to be telling them what they ought to do or think. This is why humanity is now in such a bind. We lack the will to change (in fact we actively resist it). This means that the most effective solution is that which is least likely ever to materialise => prescriptive legislation. McKibbin’s analogy of gay-rights needing to be promoted by evangelical preachers is therefore spot-on: We will not change voluntarily and, without a demand for change, our politicians will not impose it upon us (until the stability of our democracy is itself imperiled by the social costs of failing to prevent significant environmental deterioration).

    This failure will extract a heavy toll on us all; so it would be wise to have the correct money ready. 🙂

    This is the ultimate realisation of Garrett Hardin’s ‘Tragedy of the Commons’… In 1968, Hardin warned us all that tragedy will only be avoided by voluntary self-restraint (i.e. “mutual coercion, mutually agreed upon”) or, as he said, himself:
    “Ruin is the destination toward which all men rush, each pursuing his own best interest in a society that believes in the freedom of the commons.”

    So then, we have known what the problem is – and what the solution is – for nearly half a Century; and I think Nature is about to call us all to account for our collective failure to act sooner…


    1. Martin, bit tight on time just now to give your expansive comment the full thought it deserves, so will reply as soon as I can. (Off to collect my sister in from Japan later this afternoon.) Paul


      1. OK, now read your comment in full and slept on it as well! The ‘flat-screen TV’ reference is, I think, extremely pertinent, certainly to me. Tell you why. As you know I like to think that I’m fairly in tune with the need to restrain and reduce one’s CO2 output; I natter on about that on LfD from time to time!

        But when we purchased our flat-screen TV, I would guess about 18 months ago, it never crossed my mind that there were energy implications. It’s that sort of blindness which I have to reverse. That was at the root of me admitting ambivalence, at a deeper level, towards the concept of a greener way of life. What I should have done is to have come it from the perspective of purchasing the TV on the basis of (a) we know what the CO2 emission implications will be from that purchase, and (b) we will have to cut back/invest in other areas to maintain a continuing decline in our CO2 emissions year on year.

        As I write over the coming days, each and every one of us has to start managing their CO2 output, measuring their present CO2 output, having a plan of reduction and executing that plan, with modifications in the light of experience. While prescriptive legislation is, of course, a vital part of the overall journey to a sustainable way of life, it all could be achieved irrespective of Government actions if each of us took personal responsibility for change. I’m determined just as soon as we move up to Oregon to commit to that.

        As always, Martin, really appreciate you taking the time to comment on LfD, Paul.


      2. Yes Paul. I bought mine 2 years ago too (just in time to watch the Euro 2010 soccer) and it may well be that, in so doing, I have negated all the other energy-saving measures I had previously taken. If so, I am guilty as charged… However, if I had solar panels on the roof (I would do this if I thought I would not be moving home soon), I could have a flat screen TV in every room including the toilet without increasing my own carbon footprint (apart from my increasing the demand for a product with a large amount of carbon emissions embedded in its manufacture).


  3. The keys, at this point are two:
    1) For Europe, the world’s largest economy, to keep on developing more efficient and advanced energy sources. Thorium ought to be high on the list.
    2) To persuade the USA and China to make energy expensive, right now. They produce 40% of the CO2.


    1. I’m sure those thoughts are spot on and, of course, the next few years are to be looked forward, if ‘looked forward’ is the appropriate term. Sort of reminds me of the Chinese curse, ‘May you live in interesting times!’

      Still cogitating over your latest essay which is creative thought of the first order; or should I say a touch of craziness? 😉


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.