10.15.2007

Blog Action Day on the Environment: Three Simple Steps

by Robin Forman

These days you can’t swing a dead Kyoto Protocol without hitting Al Gore or one of his cohorts.

Now, I love Al Gore as much as the next tree-hugger. And I think it’s fantastic that he has gotten so much attention for his film An Inconvenient Truth as well as his extensive work on getting the masses interested in climate change. And whoa there, Big Al, congrats on the Nobel Peace Prize!

Until recently I was convinced the whole world was going to incinerate in the next decade. And if Yellowstone is the super volcano that National Geographic says it is, this is an actual possibility, and we’re all doomed.

There’s no denying global warming as far as any intelligent person can tell, but Al Gore’s extremes, like my beloved Michael Moore, may be too hard to digest for the crazy conservatives so you’ve got to meet them halfway.

Let’s mull some hors d’oeuvres of global warming facts and save the main course for when everyone can handle it:

1) We’re still thawing from the last ice age. However, the warming we are experiencing is not natural. Plain and simple: It’s going too fast. Just accept it. You don’t have to believe that the whole world’s going to flood and we’re all going to drown; just accept that what’s happening with the glaciers is not normal and it’s going to affect us. It has been predicted — not promised, so calm down — that by 2040 the Arctic could have a completely iceless summer. That ain’t right and you know it.

2) Carbon dioxide levels are up. This is caused by human activities. Prior to the Industrial Revolution (yes, this goes back further then SUV’s and AquaNet) there were 280 parts CO2 per million by volume. Today there are 370. What does that mean? The concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is up and that’s bad. Plants and oceans can absorb this CO2 and process it but not at the rate at which we are currently dumping it into the atmosphere. CO2 with the help of its buddies water vapor, nitrous oxide, methane gas and a few others make up the greenhouse gases that everyone’s always talking about. Those gases trap heat near the earth’s surface. Even if those gases weren’t trapping heat you wouldn’t want to breathe them. Have you ever flown into Los Angeles or Mexico City? Or how about even our Nation’s Capital on a warm day? It seems like it should be common sense that you don’t want to breathe air you can see.

3) You can do something. You don’t have to sell your car, use candles for light and eat out of other people’s trash cans like that freak on Wife Swap. And you also need to stop holding onto the idea that nothing you do will help, you’re only one person, changing one light bulb.

Try one of these tiny, simple things:

1) Replace one — that’s right ONE — iridescent light bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb. That saves about 300 pounds of carbon dioxide a year.

2) Set your thermostat two degrees lower in the winter and two degrees higher in the summer. I believe it was my father who responded to my saying it was cold in our house with “Put on a sweater.” So, put on a sweater and lower your thermostat. This could save about 2000 pounds of CO2 a year.

3) Save your quarters and the planet by line-drying your clothes. If you do this six months out of the year, you could save up to 700 pounds of CO2 a year. Plus if you hang them on hangers to dry, you don’t have to fold them. That’s how I roll.

So, remember that whole “I’m just one person” complex? If you did all three of those things I just listed you could save 3000 pounds of CO2 a year. Imagine if you got your friends to do it too. So if both the Right and the Left will come down off their high horses, the Right can go ahead and give the earth a little touch and see that the surface temperature has risen. And Left, you go ahead and give it a pat too and see that we’re still not quite in the 7th circle of Hell. Not yet.

(The photo is a thermal imaging picture of El Salvador's Santa Ana Volcano from NASA's Terra satellite. The red in the photo shows the heat generated by the volcano in the surrounding area. As the photo is from NASA, it is in the public domain. To see a short video about Blog Action Day on the Environment, please check below.)









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5 comments:

caffeinator said...

Robin, although I admire your post for its punchy style, it seems that your arguments only serve to further polarize the issue of global warming. As you say, Al Gore's work and film are extremely important. But because of his extreme claims, these have served to activate the left while alienating others.

By labeling them "crazy conservatives," you're doing the same thing. Global warming is a perfect example of politicizing an issue that doesn't have to be political. In most of the world, it isn't.

In order to make serious progress on environmental initiatives, we've got to get out of this partisan box and be more creative.

Rick Rockwell said...

As discussed elsewhere on this blog, sometimes you can compromise away too much. Gore's claims are not extreme. They are framed as such by the conservatives. Are the conservatives crazy? Well, the British under a new prime minister see global climate change as their new key policy to address before we get to their dire predictions of 2050. (I should live so long.) The conservatives may not be crazy but they have let their self-interest blind them to the scientific facts. The Bush White House only recently has decided environmentalism is something to consider, but that is six years too late.

But don't listen to me, I think Tom Toles of The Washington Post does the best job of addressing the issue of those who want to compromise on environmental issues. Go look at his work before discussing how to meet the conservatives halfway.

Robin, Daughter of the Desert and American Bad Ass said...

My calling them crazy did polarize the issue further. However, I actually think everyone is crazy. Left, right, in-between, me. Mostly me.
I agree whole heartedly that Al Gore's film is important. Hell, Happy Feet was extremely important. And that little tap-dancing penguin is embedding environmentalism in the minds of children just as Fern Gulley once did for me.
The first step to dealing with this issue is for the administration and governments from countries around the world to stop acting like Ents, speaking circles around everything, and actually do something.

caffeinator said...

props on the Ents metaphor, robin. you're right- it's important for global leaders to take active measures to respond to climate change.

Rick, you bring up an important subject: framing. Re-framing the debate can be a way of compromising that doesn't lead to Toles' half-world scenario. Some evangelical leaders, for example, have framed the issue in the context of values, using terms like "creation care." A stewardship of resources frame might resonate with bird-watchers or fishermen.(CSM article http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0214/p03s03-sten.html)

Creative framing doesn't have to be denial.

kermitjohnson said...

Here's something else you can do:

Don't buy Brazilian hardwood products! This doesn't have anything to do with politics.

Check out this post:

BRAZILIAN TEAK FLOORS, SLAVE LABOR, AND THE DESTRUCTION OF THE RAIN FOREST.

You can find it at:
http://www.realestatetwincities.net/blog/

Your blog seemed like the right place for sharing this post.

Anything that you can do to share this link or help promote awareness of this issue will be greatly appreciated. Normally, I don't ask for this kind of help, but the issue is that important to me.

Thank you!

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