Global warming. I mean, climate change. Wait, has the term been changed again? So many policies, so little time.
The world is reportedly changing. Only a handful of people (when considering the population of the planet) have been measuring the water levels of tides, the temperatures, the behaviour of migratory animals, the health of animal populations and other indicators of portentous changes. In short, we’ve to take their word for it (you know, this article may not lead to where you might think).
We hear on the news of political agreements to change this, curb that, increase good, decrease bad. In one conversation 40% of something is negligible, in another the same 40% is massive. Governments will force companies and people to do things that will make it all better. Although that’s a little like driving the crap out of your car, realizing that you’re going through the tires and brakes way too fast, fuel consumption is insane and suddenly saying you’ll behave. We’re not talking about machines, we’re talking about people operating machines, we’re talking about routines, habits and standards of living.
Governments can enact whatever changes they want on paper. They can deliver these changes, they can put up psoted speed limits, but that does not mean that people will behave. People will do as they see fit as long as they can justify it to themselves. Today on the drive to work the highway I take was congested because of an accident. I counted six people who were alone in their cars who jumped onto the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane to skip the traffic. One motorcyclist was lane splitting (which is unlawful in Ontario). These people all justified to themselves that doing something they knew was wrong was ok in this situation.
Governments can make us sort our recyclables from our garbage, then make us remove our organic waste from our garbage. No one asks where it goes. What’s done with it. How much it costs. What processes are involved and if it’s ultimately truly helping the environment and our community. When someone is asked what they do for the environment, they recycle. They’re doing their bit.
They’re not doing their part; they’re stating that they’re doing what’s expected of them. How thorough they are with the process is another thing (rotten mayonnaise? pffft. I ain’t cleaning that out.) and not worth investigating here. People (a general term meant to indicate the most common actions of a large sample of people) won’t ask. People don’t ask. it’s inconvenient. It might compromise their standard of living.
Where does this food come from? Aspartame? Must be safe, a large store is selling it. Artificial flavour? Amazing what they can do these days! Must be good, and must be produced responsibly. Oh, he’s on a health rant… no. He’s not. I mean I’m not. I mean…
Hybrid cars. Where do the rare earth metals in the battery come from? How environmentally conscious is the mining? What are the health and safety records of these companies? To use a term that’s become a downright pejorative, what’s the carbon footprint of manufacturing a hybrid car? (By the way, it’ll take on average 8-10 years to make up the extra cost of a hybrid car in fuel savings. Too bad most people will have gone through 2-3 cars in that time.) The only equation in the collective conscience is less oil = good.
This whole thing about climate change, depletion of resources, sustainability of standard of living – it’s not dependent on government policies or laws. It’s down to you. To me. To that person who spends all day at work walking around with a piece of paper. It’s down to asking questions. Where’s this food from? Why do we need to import apples from Chile? Why must there be these intelligible ingredients? Do hybrid cars resolve anything? How much crude oil is there left, really? How many resources are required to raise, slaughter, prepare and ship this lump of meat? What’s the standard of living of the people who made that iPod? What would it take to make sure they have decent healthcare, education and safety? How much would MY standard of living would have to reduce to make this happen? How much fuel is spent on getting this out-of-season produce to this supermarket?
Please pause and ask: WTF?!
What’s the use of spending all that money on a hybrid car and use organic hemp grocery bags if you’re buying things that are raping resources and abusing communities?
Yes, I have a car, a motorcycle, a flat screen TV and a Playstation3™. It’s not about becoming Diogenes of Sinope (guy, lived in a bath tub, walked around the Agora with a lamp in the middle of the day saying he was trying to find an honest man, destroyed his onyl possession, a wooden bowl, when he saw a kid using his hands to drink water, one of the founders of the school of Cynic philosophy… you know the guy, helped Dave move last year).
If this climate thing will truly change, we need to stop being spoiled little kids and take our responsibilities. Question things until they’re understood. If this leads you to ask : WTF?! Then something’s amiss and you need to see if something, in your life, within your realm of responsibilities, needs to change. Not some oil company changing or you buying a hybrid car just so you can say you’re ‘doing your bit’ the same way as recycling household waste is ‘doing your bit’. Be intellectually honest. If you’re not, you’ve just cheated the most important person in your life. There’s no destination. It’s all a process.