Friday, May 23, 2008

I believe...








I believe it is a big mistake to think:




I am a person and I cannot do very much to make a difference, therefore people cannot do very much to make a difference

People are what makes a difference. The behaviour of people is causing damage to our environment, so changing the behaviour of people is the only thing that can reverse it.

It is a mistake to think

I am small and powerless but governments are big and powerful, so the government should do something about this, not me

Think about the word "government". Govern - ment. What governments do is govern people. All governments can do is pass laws telling people how to act. But you don't have to wait until they pass a law telling you to live more responsibly. You can start living more responsibly right now.

It is a mistake to think

My household only releases a small amount of carbon, a small amount of pollution, uses a small amount of resources, but businesses release much more. So businesses should do something about this, not me.

Businesses make things, do things or sell things that people buy. If people don't buy them then the businesses stop making them. They have to - they have no money to continue. So what businesses do, at the end of the day, is down to consumer. In other words, people. In other words, you.

I'm not just saying "Change your lightbulbs to low-energy ones and everything will be OK". It's going to take more than that. Lightbulbs are just a painless first step to get the people who currently do nothing "green" to get themselves started. It's a bit like health advice to park your car further away from the supermarket and take the stairs more often. On its own it won't get you fit, but if you tell someone who is 100lbs overweight to get training for a marathon they'll just give up in despair. So we say "Start here - this change is easy", and then we encourage people to do a little more and a little more.

It's a good message. It means you can stop wringing your hands and waiting for everyone else to do something. You can start doing it yourself right now. What are you going to do?

16 comments:

Aoj & The Lurchers said...

Hello, newbie here! *waves*

It is so true that it is too easy to pass the buck to those "above" us and let them deal with the problem. Yet if we all do little things it will make a difference in the long run.

I use low energy bulbs, I recycle - even though because of where I live I have to drive to the recycling bins - I have some ex-battery hens who provide our eggs and we compost whatever scraps we have that they don't eat. I'm slowly starting to grow my own fruit and veg, which is limited by the small size of my garden and my severe lack of green fingers!

I am trying to move us into eating seasonally and to try and make sure most of our purchased food is organic and/or grown or produced in the UK. Although the amount of available funds do someitmes limit that good intention.

It's not much but it's a start!

Mjohnson said...

You know I don't agree with you.

Individual decisions don't set planning strategy, they don't set the energy policy. You're right individual decisions make a massive difference and set the agenda, but I think it takes strong leadership to get to the next level. This is the problem with conservationists, they're conservative. What we need is big changes and we need them now.

Look what Bevan did with the NHS - strong leadership created a solution to a problem. The NHS has it's problems but we're all glad it's here, it was the right thing to do and he did it. We need a politician who will sell us a strategy for a zero carbon economy.

This is also a great opportunity for the UK, right now all nations are sleepwalking into the abyss, what if we woke up first?

Tess said...

I love this post, you're so encouraging.

A word about businesses: most of us work in organisations, and we can put pressure on from within. Ask your facilities department what your organisation does to recycle (and where the recycling goes - does it just get sent to China??). Ask what the carbon footprint of your office is, and if they don't know, put them on to the Carbon Trust.

I've just managed to shoulder my way into leading a 'green' initiative at my own workplace simply by asking those sort of questions, and am now talking to my counterparts in our international offices so we can bring together all their best practice ideas as well.

It can be done, sometimes you just need to put your head above the parapet. And now is a really good time, because clients are beginning to ask what their potential suppliers' environmental policy is.

To be sure, some of it is PR and window dressing, but who cares if it is a means to genuine improvement?

marigold said...

Anarchy! Anarchy!

hahaha.

Joyce said...

I so agree with you! And I like what Tess says, too, about being a voice in your work place or organization. We can all do something. Businesses are already recognizing the trend, or they wouldn't be marketing things as"green". We have a lot more individual power than some think.

ceridwen said...

Actions need to happen at all levels - the individual and government level. Sometimes governments need to step in where individuals are refusing to act.

Even small actions are better than nothing - but, of themselves, teensy things like changing ones lightbulbs (actually - rather a bad idea in fact because of the mercury in low-energy ones) help. But - basically teensy actions are just chipping away at a huge rock. What we actually need is much bigger and more radical actions - like giving up the car, limiting plane travel and THE most vital thing of all limiting oneself to having not more than 2 children (hence my proposal that no State aid at all - other than State Education - should be given to any children not yet conceived). I believe many people would think twice before having children if they had to cover all the costs of having them, apart from education. I have exempted children already here from this - so no hardship is caused to anyone already born. What I would like to see regarding car usage is a graduated petrol ration per household (according to how far out in the countryside one lives - ie the greater the need, the greater the ration) and I estimate a basic ration of 50 miles per household per week could be a starting point for working out what the ration should be.

James said...

Nice post Mel. You're very good at explaining things; I hope the Open University pay you well. I like the marathon simile.

Bill of Ballaugh said...

Is beag an ní nach cuidiú é, mar a dúirt an dreolín, nuair a rinne sé a mhún san fharráige. (Every little helps, as the wren said, as it pee'd in the sea).

Anonymous said...

I had to get Annon to read an Gaelige to me ~ do you speak it, Bill?

Killi (with blogger issues)

Bill of Ballaugh said...

To Killi - re cupla focal, an beag. Still learning. Got that little philosophical gem from a packet of sugar last time I passed through Faranfore Airport, Kerry.

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