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Saving the Planet: We’re All in This Together

Saving the Planet: We’re All in This Together

Facing — and solving — environmental challenges today can seem daunting, to say the least. For example, just when you think the clean energy revolution is taking off, presidential candidates continue to tout domestic drilling for fossil fuels, both on and offshore, in order to “solve” our energy crisis. Huh? Shouldn’t we be pushing for wind, solar and geothermal on a larger scale to create clean energy jobs while meeting our domestic energy needs?  Shouldn’t we also be focusing on reducing energy consumption and promoting energy efficiency?

Let’s be honest: solving the climate crisis is a massive endeavor that’s going to take much more than political jargon, or turning off the lights before you leave the house.  We’re going to have to revisit our standard way of living, consuming and ultimately, being.  That means giving up some things, but gaining others and, most importantly, it means connecting the dots like never before.

Take car-sharing.  Companies like RelayRides and Getaround use a model that promotes sharing existing cars with people who lack a car.  Using this model, you’re not only taking a potential car off the road, but the owner of the existing car makes some side cash to boot. And membership is growing, implying people no longer want to deal with the burden of car ownership, on many different levels.

Programs like these also foster an enhanced sense of community and wellbeing as sharing is generally shown to benefit one’s psychological, physical and social state. What’s particularly interesting about car sharing is that it’s not inherently environmental; on the surface, you’re still driving a car.  The many benefits of car sharing, however, can be directly applied to environmental policy: decreasing demand for new cars, decreasing pollution, abating climate change, etc. Perhaps the open, sharing mentality can also trigger a renewed awareness of social and environmental issues that resonate in other areas of life.

Now, consider hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, an energy-extraction process that has received both positive and negative press, depending upon which side of the argument you fall.  Yet, when examined with a holistic eye, the dangers of the industry become much more apparent. The sheer amount of water needed for each fracking well is nothing short of mind boggling, never mind the massive quantify of chemicals used, a number of which are known carcinogens. Residents living in areas where fracking is rampant often see their property lose value dramatically because of poisoned water wells and seeping gas.

Fracking, when viewed this way, now becomes much more than just an energy issue — it’s a public health and environmental justice issue, which brings other concerned parties to the table. Uniting parties that initially appear to share little in common is an important step in gaining political traction and social awareness, especially for the environmental movement, which by itself is often fragmented and on the defense. As Rex Weyler stated in a recent blog post:

In practice, human efforts to protect and restore Earth’s ecological health have focused on a “species” or a “habitat” or some thing that needed protection. But this has failed to account for the fundamental nature of living systems. Earth’s ecology is not a collection of things. Rather, Earth’s ecology operates as interlocking, co-evolving systems, driven by feedbacks and interactions.

In order to fix the gamut of environmental issues of our time, examining each issue as it connects to the greater whole is key. For example, one of the important factors in fighting climate change is psychology and behavior change, but psychology is rarely mentioned in GHG scientific reviews.  And what about our intrinsic emotional and spiritual connection to our natural surroundings?  Are those feelings any less important than hard data?  What’s critical is not to lose sight of the very circuits that connect us all to each other and, ultimately, to the very fabric of life.  From here, I believe, we can create real, systemic change.

Easter Island, the popular example of a civilization that disappeared after using up all available resources, is a harsh yet valuable reminder of what can happen on a global scale if we fail to connect the dots.  Now, visualize Earth as an island floating in space and remind yourself that in fact, yes, we’re all in this together.

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Photo Credit: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

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2:13PM PDT on Sep 12, 2012

that we are

6:27PM PDT on Aug 31, 2012

Check out Mihcio Kaku's book, "The Future of Physics," for a very cogent description of a possibly pollution free planet. He is a Prof. of Physics at the City University of New York.

6:23PM PDT on Aug 31, 2012

Anyone interested in environmental issues ought to see Sean Lennon's Op=Ed piece in the N.Y. Times of this last Tuesday, the 28th of August.
He describes the impact of Fracking in Pennsylvania,, its threat to upstate New York, and QUITE importantly, I believe, points out that the Natural Gas Alliance's publicity campaign involves the services of Hill and Knowlton- the P.R. firm that "...through the 50's and 60's told America that tobacco had no verifiable links to cancer."
These guys ought to be tried for crimes against humanity, if not the planet.

1:03AM PDT on Aug 31, 2012


10:19PM PDT on Aug 30, 2012

Yes - We're all in this together - even the fool and his money - maybe he might get it oneday.

10:19PM PDT on Aug 30, 2012

Yes - We're all in this together - even the fool and his money - maybe he might get it oneday.

8:03PM PDT on Aug 30, 2012

OK here the poop I have a way to end pollution and solve the energy crisis. I thought we were humans the last time I checked. Why can we understand why I have come up with unlimited energy for all around us. I believe that hat is easy we will do,like making paper. Why can we us something else beside trees, why not use bamboo cause it has fibrous too. Let pull it together now.

10:02AM PDT on Aug 30, 2012

Thanks for the article.

9:02AM PDT on Aug 30, 2012

How about logarithmic, scalar wave energy. Tesla found a way to harness it back in the 1930s but the Elites control his research. Anyone devising a car that runs on it had better take care not to mass market it or they wind up dead; or dead through character assassination.

6:39AM PDT on Aug 30, 2012

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