Once again it’s Blog Action Day, and this year the theme is Climate Change. Previous years’ themes were the Environment and Poverty. In many ways they’re all interconnected, just pieces of a larger whole.
The climate is changing because people are using more resources. Loss of resources such as forests means fewer trees to capture carbon. And whatever way the resources are used, e.g., extracting the resources themselves, refining them, manufacturing products, using fuel for transportation or heating or creating electricity, etc., greenhouse gases are released.
It’s obvious how climate change and the environment are related. But how does poverty fit into the picture? I’ll get to that in a bit.
But first I’ll list some things I’m doing to reduce my carbon footprint.
I don’t drive a car. This eliminates not only the pollution from driving, but also all of the pollution from the manufacture of a car. I either take the bus or walk.
I eat a vegan diet and cook mostly from scratch. The more processed the food you buy, the more energy went into the processing, and the pollution from factory farms is horrid.
I buy nearly all of my clothes at thrift stores. By not buying new, I’m not buying the energy use that went into manufacturing new things.
I dress for the weather. It’s cold here now, so I’m dressed for the cold. I’m trying to go till November before I turn on the furnace. I can’t guarantee I’ll make it, but I’ve made it so far. When I sat down to write this, I was wearing flannel-lined jeans, wool socks, a tank top, a turtleneck, and a wool sweater. I realized I was still cold, so I wrapped a large wool shawl around me. I’ve warmed up considerably.
There are other things, but these are the major ones that come to mind. Do you notice what they all have in common?
I save a lot of money by doing all these things. Frankly, I can’t afford to buy new clothes, and there’s no way on earth I could afford a car, let alone the expenses that go with driving one. And I’m hoping to reduce my gas bill considerably by not turning the furnace on until I absolutely have to.
I used to own a car. I used to eat meat. I used to buy new clothes, and use the furnace much more. And you know what? I also used to be very deep in debt. I couldn’t really afford these things.
A lot of people can’t. The majority of the third world can’t. And more and more people in the United States can’t. The gap between the haves and the have nots just gets wider and wider. And who do you think will be hurt most by climate change? As sea levels rise and we have more hurricanes? Just look at Hurricane Katrina to see the devastation inflicted on the poor. I’m not saying rich people won’t be affected. I’m saying poor people will be affected more. People who can’t afford to move elsewhere. People who can’t afford to rebuild after their homes are destroyed.
Yes, manufacturing creates jobs. I’m not saying that simply eliminating manufacturing would create a utopia.
But I think we need to change the way our entire society is structured. For one thing, why not make more buses and trains instead of so many cars? A bus can hold a lot of people. A train, even more. Expand the public transportation system (creating more jobs) enough so people don’t feel they need cars.
And shorten the work week. If people worked fewer hours, not only would it create more jobs, it would also give people time to do more things like cook from scratch and grow their own vegetables (and actually have a life!).
I don’t have all the answers. But I’m starting with what I personally, as an individual, can do. What about you?