All this talk of Copenhagen have left me with a little sour taste. I've been avoiding discussing the climate change talks here just because the summit is currently so far out of my control. That and Canada's Prime Minister, Mr. Harper, has been a little, shall we say- reticent on the entire subject. Which is so disheartening.
In any case, recently after a lecture on acidification of the oceans at Dalhousie Univsersity, a few friends were chatting about the the individual's impact on climate. Unfortunately, the reality is that big business and corporations have such gargantuan carbon footprints compared to our drop in the bucket electricity and vehicle use. Real change and impact must come from industry in order for us to make any large environmental difference.
These truths, although frustrating are important to recognize as it leads us to the next step: individual changes should not be the end of the eco-street. Recycling and turning off the lights won't really save our Earth. I do believe that in this acknowledgment comes true change. As industry is money driven... by consumers... the individual.
We, as individuals, consume the oil and petrochemicals that have been damaging and irrevocably changing our eco-systems. Without the consumer, the need for oil to run our computers, our vehicles, our lights and heat or to make the plastic and disposable lifestyle the huge polluters wouldn't exist. From this perspective, the individual CAN actually make an impact.
I also strongly believe that small introductions to eco-changes, gradual transformations to a more sustainable societal culture will lead to awareness and value shifts causing changes in voting, governmental policy and impact on industry. Call me an optimist, but I believe in social norms and pressure to impact how we regulate our public sectors. (playing crokinole on my father's childhood board with friends at the cottage)
Colin, from No Impact Man, speaks regularly of how a sustainable life doesn't have to be about sacrifice, but is about community and connection. Instead of plugging away at our computers and televisions or placing value in amassing further material goods, we as a culture could spend time improving person to person relationships which as a result would lead to a happier life. So many studies have found that humans are social beings that have been curiously suffering from increasing diagnoses of anxiety, depression, stress and panic-related disorders. We've been feeling increasingly disconnected in our ginormous cities spending all our time striving for a golden space of wealth, without ever significantly connecting.
When was the last time you asked for sugar or flour from a neighbour? How big is your "community"? I know that in Halifax I had to make an effort to meet my neighbours which included baking some cookies on several different occasions and making sure that when a new neighbour moved in I introduced myself (Andrew was not happy that we weren't keeping the cookies all to ourselves...lol). If there was an emergency or crisis, I would not depend on my neighbours for help.
At the same time, in my home village where I grew up there is a huge sense of community. For example, my uncle has just been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Unfortunately, the medical care in Canada really isn't all rainbows and flowers, and cancer treatment is only ever covered if you receive it while you are physically IN the hospital. Which these days only applies to some types of cancers... the rest being prescription medications. Which are expensive and NOT covered. My uncle is a fisherman and obviously self-imployed... and obviously does not have ANY medical insurance.
Just this weekend, my village had a bakesale and auction in order to raise money for my uncle who hasn't lived there in my entire lifetime. They raised over 17,000 dollars which will help his family live and pay for some of the medications. Even though everyone in the village amounts to a population of 500 (ish) and are all currently suffering under the economic strain of only now starting a new fishing season and haven't been getting paid since last May, they rallied together to help support my uncle and his family.
All this to say that community and connection are beautiful cultural norms that we've been moving away from since the advent of city, high paced living. Unplugging and placing value on interactions and experiences as opposed to material gifts is the way to lead a more sustainable and loving life.
This week I really want to explore this concept of a "slow Christmas/Yule" and what exactly that could mean. Since this post is already ridiculously long, I'll leave some for tomorrow's post :) Thank goodness I'm a fast typer, so I can spend less time writing blog posts and more time following my advice- and spending time with friends and Andrew. (playing frisbee and lost it for the THIRD time over the fence)
Real time, not watching a movie or looking at stuff on the internet while sitting next to each (yes Andrew and I are guilty of that). Today we went skating, Andrew for the first time in 17 years. It was so much fun and the kicker- it was free.
article and photos copyright of EcoYogini at ecoyogini.blogspot.com