With the 40th anniversary of Earth Day looming, something needs to be said about the lack of movement forward in America to accept the reality of Climate Change, lessen our dependance upon fossil fuels and lower our carbon footprints.
So often, the first thing that I hear or read when people respond to possible legislation in favor of reduced carbon emissions is that the government shouldn't 'force' the public and/or businesses to 'do with less' or give up things that they feel are their due. I always shudder to hear this argument. Is it such an imposition to group car trips together or car pool occasionally? Why does a family of 4 need a home of 100,000 sq ft? Wouldn't it be prudent to buy a few more of our foods locally and support the farmers closest to us? Is the coffee or service at a local shop so much worse than Starbucks? (In full disclosure, I owned a coffee shop back in Ohio which had amazing, fresh-roasted coffee and espresso, fantastic milkshakes and great service....)
There are a number of 'green' steps that I have incorporated into my every-day life, and many of my lovely family members (Republicans included!) have done the same. Of course, in this day and age, it's pretty easy to turn off lights in empty rooms, set an electronic thermostat and recycle some items. So, slowly but surely, my husband and I find other ways to be more responsible about our carbon footprints. I bike-commute to work, carpool with friends to my hikes and grocery shopping, compost our kitchen and lawn leavings, and try to buy locally-produced foods and products.
Maybe it's the fact that I grew up overseas where forests were protected, good samaritan laws were established, land useage was planned and road rage was illegal due to the government's need to protect the public. Social responsibility was something that everyone felt and respected. Not to be dramatic, but I feel as if many people around me believe that their personal cozy-comfort is much more important than global good. It's not in everyone's heart, but does seem to be a pervasive attitude.
I honestly believe that there are so many different ways to be more 'green' that everyone could easily work one change into their weekly routines, even if it only makes a very small impact. I recognize that machanics can't shorten their showers because of the degree of oil and grime that they work with, and my family in Ohio must use their vehicles often because they are not blessed with the public transportation system that I have access to here in the Northwest. Minimum-wage jobs and fixed incomes make it hard to afford fruits and veggies at farmers markets, and not everyone has the time to poll all of their friends' grocery shopping schedules in order to carpool. But sometime this week, one household could grab energy efficient light bulbs on their next hardware store run, and enjoy slightly lower electricity bills. Another family could start a compost pile for kitchen scraps, where they would benefit from the healthy soil additives. Your significant-other could add riding a bike for an errand to their exercise routine, and gain stronger leg muscles. My best friend could write their elected officials and ask for the green legislation of her choice. The sooner we all get started doing SOMETHING, the easier it will be to incorporate healthy, lower carbon-footprint changes in the future.
Americans need to be pushed to engage and rely upon the ingenuity, industriousness and entrepreneurism that has gotten us through our historic trials. We need to find new and finance better ways to get to work, heat our homes and generate electricity; and while we're at it, create new living-wage jobs for our flat economy. There is absolutely no reason why we cannot rise above and conquer such an important problem, which has global implications. If people think a lower carbon footprint would be uncomfortable now, then they will be terribly dissapointed in the laws that would have to be enforced if we run out of fossil fuels or the seas rise a few more inches.