I blog about environmental and social justice issues because I am very concerned about the health of the interdependent web of life of which we are a part.

Melting Arctic ice.......beautiful and frightening!

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Will It Make Any Difference?

A friend responded to a request that she conserve water as follows: 
I have an "idealogical" problem with the project. That is, I believe that all of the good efforts of a million citizens in terms of water conservation can be wiped out in one minute by the government giving -- as it has, rights to mining companies to dump their tailings and other toxic wastes into what have previously been pristine, untarnished lakes and streams.  This, to me, is the bigger battle. I find this in every element of the enviromental movement. The "common man/woman" is willing to go to terrific effort to improve the quality of air, water, and land. But, without government leadership -- and WITH government "sabotage" of those efforts, the benefit of the "small steps" are wiped out.
I agree with my friend in many ways:  for example,  I was annoyed when  the Liberals issued a "One Tonne Challenge" to Canadians without taking any steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from industries  - especially industries such as the tar sands.

How do I reconcile my perception that personal measures may be futile with my perception that we MUST do something about climate change before it is too late?   I do both.   I conserve water, recyle, repalce my incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents, take the bus to work sometimes, walk,...and I attempt to get the government to change its policies.

But - and this is a big but - governments WILL NOT change laws or policies until the political will exists to change them. (Stephen Harper is not crazy enough to piss off his base in Alberta unless pissing off his base gets him a  majority government.) So - doing things like raising awareness around water conservation or helping organize a 350.org rally raises consciousness.  It also creates political will.  We sent  more than one hundred letters from our small town  to the Prime Minister  asking  him to commit to a binding and science based agreement at Copenhagen.  These letters were generated at our October 24, 2009 rally: they must have caught his attention.  

So --- send the PM a letter, I say.  Lobby governments - federal, provincial, and municipal.  Educate yourself - and then educate your  neighbours and your friends. 

And do the small things like conserving water to ensure your example is congruent with your words. 

And, in the long run, if our deepest fears are realized, and we destroy the entire ecosystem of the earth, you can say "I made the right choice: I  worked to save the earth."

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