Sunday, 24 December 2006

Climate Change - Lifestyle Change

People in general at last seem to be accepting that Climate Change is really happening and could have serious repercussions for our way of life and for the natural world. The ice caps are melting, ocean levels are rising, extreme weather events are becoming more common. Certain species of animals and plants are disappearing from certain areas as the climate is no longer suitable for them, in some areas of the world human populations are becoming vulnerable to their homes being destroyed by rising tides or other extreme weather events.
We cannot carry on as we are doing, we need to make serious changes to the way we in the richer countries live our lives. This does not need to mean a total abandonment of everything we enjoy and it also is not entirely down to individuals, we need action from governments and big companies too. Governments should recognise that, now that a large proportion of the electorate are aware of environemental issues, it is time to start passing stringent environmental laws focussing on companies before individuals. Companies should be helped to produce more environmentally benign products and should be taxed for their pollution. Railway networks should be improved to reduce people's taste for short haul flights.
Things that individuals can do include: flying less, driving less, taking the train more, walking more, taking showers instead of baths, recycling more, reusing more, buying second hand. Reuse can be really creative, I try to include lots of ideas about that in the craft posts in this blog, second hand clothes can be more eye catching than new and second hand bookshops often have more interesting selections than do most high street bookstores in these days of 3 for 2 offers etc. As we slow our lives down we can take time to savour life, the time we spend with friends and walking in the countryside (while its still there).
Christmas should become a time for enjoying the company of our friends and family over and above shopping until we drop from exhaustion trying to find the latest hi-tec environmentally destructive gift for someone who already has everything.
Wishing everyone a very green Christmas.....
A different perspective on change can be found on my Alter Ego Blog, here.

15 comments:

Jefferson Davis said...

I completely concur with your statement, Juliet. Have a Merry Christmas. :)

Jane Poe (aka Deborah) said...

Great post, CGP! A very merry, green and lovely Christmas wish for you too.
Much peace, JP

FARfetched said...

Good points. I know I enjoy checking out second-hand stores as much for the discovery as for the hope of finding something I'm looking for, though. Interesting thought about clothes... I'll have to keep that in mind next time I'm looking for new duds.

But while you're talking about action that companies (small and large) could take, we could talk about packaging too. I hate getting stuff that's wrapped in a plastic shell, welded around all the edges. Not only is it a hassle to cut through all that plastic, then that plastic generally gets thrown away. No benefit to the product, really... just a way to make things more difficult (but only slightly) for shoplifters. All a shoplifter needs is a sharp knife, anyway — a blog by a Wal-Mart drone recently talked about filling a trash bag with the packaging from shoplifted items... every morning.

The best way to go that I've seen is a cardboard container with a paper (not styrofoam) insert to protect the gadget. Both the container and the insert can be made of recycled paper, and recycled again or (at worst) tossed in a wood stove to help heat the house a little.

The problem is: the way things are set up, it will take huge numbers of consumers or voters demanding change to make it happen. And most people are concerned primarily about getting stuff on sale or keeping their jobs. *sigh* Not enough people realize that whatever lifestyle they aspire to requires a decent environment to enjoy it.

Crafty Green Poet said...

Hi there and thanks for your comments!

Far fetched - oh don't get me started on packaging! Yes very good point, there is so much waste in packaging. And yes it is very much the way things are set up.....

Lacithecat said...

Oh yes ... as you know, I totally agree. I was just thinking about what I think my New Year resolutions should be ... and I have decided to do some research and put on my blog a nice compilition of causes I strongly believe in and ways to improve our environmental impacts for friends and family to think about. One small step - but we have to start somewhere.

Catherine said...

Oh yes, I agree with the packaging comment. Those horrible polystyrene moulded packing items can be produced just as easily from moulded recycled cardboard (the same as they use for egg cartons here).
Christmas - well we have wish lists in our family. Most of what was on mine was things I really needed - like a new watch, because I've been doing without one for about a year.
But travel - well, you have it lucky in the UK. The distance from England to France is about the same as the North Island to the South Island in NZ. NZ to Australia is about the same as the UK to Eastern Europe. It's pretty much impossible to get anywhere from NZ without flying. And we couldn't survive without our exports, which are mostly food - so if the whole world gets too fussy about food miles, we are sunk. The other part of our economy is tourism.
My brother was in the UK and was astonished at how empty many of the trains were. They would have been canned as uneconomic in NZ. In fact I think it's been shown that travel by train is less environmentally friendly than flying! I'm not sure if that would still apply if the trains were full.
I will not be regretting my trip to the UK next year - I've been waiting all my life for that. I must admit though, I am astonished how many people dash across to Australia several times a year just for the weekend. As for secondhand clothes - I buy mine new, but they are pretty well worn out before I'm done with them.

Crafty Green Poet said...

Catherine thanks for your comments - with flying of course it does depend where you are. In the UK you can fly from Edinburgh to Manchester! This is ridiculous. It's quicker to take the train. I'm sceptical of the point of view that says trains are more environmentally destructive than planes. Empty trains are obviously a bad thing but flying from UK to New York for the weekend (of from NZ to Australia) is crazy. Food miles too, obviously the problem is relative, I'm thinking of facts like every year UK exports X thousand chickens and Y thousand onions to Netherlands and imports Z thousand chickens and Q thousand onions from the Netherlands. This is not logical. I'm not an economist so can't comment on that side of things, but environmentally it is ludicrous.

sarala said...

Thanks for the reminder.

Catherine said...

The exporting chickens and importing them back again is ridiculous, I agree. Just so long as people keep buying New Zealand lamb, kiwifruit, seafood, wines etc. And the tourists keep coming - the ideal of course is to stay longer. I'd love to stay several months when we come to the UK, but a month is all the leave from work we can manage. I believe there is research going on into much more fuel efficient planes, and I think that technology actually has an important contribution to make in this area. And that building standards should be improved to make houses more environmentally efficient - New Zealand lags badly in this area. I think it is the little branch line railways that my brother found to be largely empty in the UK.

Crafty Green Poet said...

Hi again Catherine, I think technology can make huge differences to both air travel and buildings. And the good thing is that airlines and construction companies are starting to become more environmentally aware. It must have been trains on small branch tracks that your brother found empty because many of our mainline trains have exactly the opposite problem!

It's a shame that you can't come over to the UK for longer than a month.

Jacqueline Pearce said...

Just a quick note to say hello from Vancouver, Canada. It's my first visit, and I'm enjoying what I read so far in your two blogs. Although I recycle, take public transit, etc. as part of my daily life, I'm thinking I need to add something specific about combatting global warming to my 2007 resolutions.

Jacquie
www.wildink.wordpress.com

Kerstin said...

Hi Juliet, thanks for stopping by my blog. How interesting to come here and find a post on the same subject. I was surprised to be writing my post as I did, when I uploaded the photo for project 365 I had not intention of getting into the climate debate!

Change is needed but I think we also have to be realistic about the time this will take, and also about the fact that for large corporations it will always come down to their profit margins. Having said this, there are companies who do try and find the balance between profit and responsibility, they are not all "bad". And when we talk about the corporate world we often forget that a company is not some intagible entity, it is made up of individuals like you and me.

Improving public transport to reduce travel by car and plane is probably more realistic in Europe than it is in America. This country is simply too big, and its infrastructure and culture is totally geared around the use of the car, as well as planes these days. You will not get people to walk more over here (that's even dangerous in many towns), but at least we can, and have to, work towards cleaner and alternative fuels.

You know my views on travel, not all of us have their families nearby and need to fly to be with loved ones. Plus travel encourages intercultural exchange and is therefore good for the promotion of peace, Europe is a good example of that.

There are many things we can do as individuals to lead a more mindful life and they are all worth the effort. But I don't think that it is the climate we have to be afraid of, it is us, the human race, who worries me the most. WE are our own worst enemy and chances are that we will destroy ourselves not through environmental pollution but through the weapons that we build. I hope I am proven wrong.

Crafty Green Poet said...

HI Jacqui and Kerstin and thanks for your comments. Kerstin, I do take a very UK perspective on things because that's where I'm based.... I know things are very different in America, distances are so much bigger for a start and I can't imagine not walking round town....

Yes we are our own worst enemy....

Jacquie said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog. I'm still pleasantly surprised to find that a technology that so often isolates people, also seems to be such a great tool for helping people make connections.... Anyway, I look forward to checking into your blogs when ever I get a chance.

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