Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A nod to No Impact Man

Yesterday on No Impact Man he said something that struck a chord with me, so I thought I would write a little about it.

When I started the No Impact sustainable-living project, part of the reason I did it was because I was so skeptical that the politicians would ever do anything about climate change. I felt that, in the voting booth, whether you pull a red handle or a blue hand, you still pull a big business handle.

So I decided, if I wanted to do something about planetary stewardship, individual action through lifestyle change was the way to go. Of course, the big question was always whether the efforts of little old me could make a difference or not. What I discovered was that, if nothing else, at least I could make a difference to whether I felt I was contributing more to the world's problems or to its solutions.

... ...
If I try, if I make an effort, I may not save the world. But there is a good chance, at least, that I'll end up saving myself.
-No Impact Man
Everything I do on here, all my little experiments and all my little successes, they are not going to save the world. At best they'll make me healthier. If I'm lucky they'll help my friends and family be healthier. If I'm super lucky maybe my city will be a little healthier. That's it. That's all I can do. But, at least I'm doing it. I can wake up in the mornings and look at myself in the mirror and know I'm contributing to solutions.
Politicians are NEVER going to solve this problem. They will never volunteer their constituency to start the necessary changes. These changes are going to be way too unpopular. The cold hard truth is we as a nation represent 5% of the population and we use close to 25% of the worlds energy. The statistics on waste and pollution are just as bad. We need to use at the very least, a fifth of the energy we currently do. And that's assuming world wide availability of energy stays the same. Which I happen to doubt, and thus my goal to reduce my consumption to a mere 10% of what's normal for an American. Changes now while I've got the safety net of widely available energy are much easier than changes after the fact.
It's really come home this past month. I've noticed that rising food prices are not effecting me much. I've always bought organic milk and eggs. These don't rely on imported oil as much as conventional milk and eggs so their prices aren't going up. They're already a part of my budget, so I'm not having to retool my budget to make ends meet. Produce is getting more expensive, again since I've always bought organic produce, my prices aren't rising. With produce coming out of my garden and my commitment to preserving what's cheap and in season this summer, I don't expect I'll buy much grocery store produce till at least mid-winter. If I had waited till now, now when food prices are high, to start my gardening or my local/seasonal/organic diet, it would be 5x harder. But, because I've already got a good start on a sustainable diet I'm weathering the food price up tick fairly well. Do I feel I wasted money in the years before the conventional food got expensive? Hell no. I didn't have to worry about my spinach during the massive spinach scare, I knew the farm where my spinach came from. The same with my tomatoes during the recent e-coli scare. I knew which farm my tomatoes came from, and I talk to the guy who grows them every week or so at the farmers market. The step I took to wean my diet off of imported oil was better for my health, better for Dave's health, (only cause I cook for him) and arguably better for the health of my city because I helped keep that tomato farmer in business.
I see energy cutbacks soon for this country. It's just going to get more and more expensive and wages aren't always going to keep up. Why wait to make changes until I have to? Why not start now so that when I'm looking at 6$ a gallon gas, it's as I ride by the gas station on my bike.

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