Thursday, October 15, 2009

Today is Blog Action Day 09 and this year the theme is Climate Change.

Today is Blog Action Day 09 and this year the theme is Climate Change. Bloggers from 130 countries will be posting on this theme today. Here’s my contribution.

Although I‘ve always philosophically (and sometimes financially) supported environmental causes, environmental issues have never been my top priority as an activist. My focus has been on feminist issues, civil right issues, and economic justice issues. Although in some sense I understood there was a connection with environmental issues, I didn’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about it.

From my admittedly sketchy reading of the literature about climate change, it’s clear that there is a powerful connection between economic justice issues and environmental issues. I need to pay more attention.

My contributions have consisted largely of personal gestures: My husband and I recycle, we don’t use pesticides in our garden, we compost our kitchen waste, try to remember to turn out the lights when we leave a room and lower the thermostat in winter.

Now all this may be offset by our house which has much more space than we need or use, but like most folks I’m not ready to make the big sacrifices. I love my house and am not willing to reduce my personal carbon footprint in a serious way by moving into a small apartment.

Yes, I could do more on a personal level but these individual actions count for little absent serious government action.

An article in the October 2009 Atlantic describes what government agencies which take climate change seriously can accomplish. Thanks to the actions of the California sate government, the average Californian uses about 40%less electricity per year than the average American. President Obama has moved to make some of the measures enacted into law in California (some of which were blocked by the Bush administration) a model for the rest of the nation.

Individual actions matter, but we need government to provide the carrots and the sticks to change the behavior of individual and corporate actors.

Maybe the work I (and countless others) did to elect President Obama made more of a contribution to addressing global warming than my lowered thermostat.


  1. it's fun to try to advocate for change, but eventually this is going to come down to survival. Sea levels rising will affect cities like Philadelphia. South Philly and nearby suburbs in Jersey, Bucks and Delaware all have serious flodding issues from time to time. People who live at sea level are going to be "squeezed" in a few short decades. Then you have to consider overpopulation, which is a serious issue right now. The US and other countries with means need to think about a plan to cope with the consequences of global warming, even if it would be nicer just to stop it from happening in the first place (and you thought the terrorists were the main threat!).

  2. I guess one of the advantages of getting older is that I will probably not be around to see the worst, but you are certainly right that the time is running out for dealing with this.
    I have finally started paying some attention.