TED Conversations

Davie  Webb

This conversation is closed. Start a new conversation
or join one »

'Do your bit for climate change!' - Do you feel Like your wasting your time?

Climate change is widely regarded as the world's leading threat to modern mankind. We will all be aware of the changes to our environment that are and will occur as a direct result of the energy we use and lifestyles we choose.

I often find myself switching off that extra light, heading down to the recycling bins loaded with bits of everything. I find myself walking instead of driving, drinking water instead of tea and I find myself constantly wondering: Am i wasting my time?

An essay I submitted analysed the impact of the small changes one could make, as an English Brit. I found that if Britain turned off everything and stopped life as we know it.. it would account for 2% of the global CO2 levels. this is not to say Britian is not creating a lot of CO2. this is to outline that the USA and China with their entrenched fossil fuel driven worlds and their alarming populations are creating such an irreversable problem, that I feel like I'm wasting my time.

I am aware that it was Britain that kicked off the industrial revolution and has contributed greatly to this global mess. my point is, today we know what is happeneing to our world due to our behavior. I feel it is too late and fear the so called 'tipping point' was passed years before we even spoke the words climate change.

+1
Share:
progress indicator
  • MR T

    • +1
    Apr 18 2011: I don't think you are wasting your time, if everyone thought they were wasting their time there would be no possibility at all of protecting the environment we live in. I've seen some inspiring and realistic TED talks that feature methods of reversing climate change after such 'tipping point' is reached so even then hope is not lost. The environment in your local area, worcester (my home town too) can be hugely affected by just you, the same goes for everyone else, everywhere else.
  • Apr 17 2011: We knew in the 60s that events were going in the wrong direction & no one listened. Fifty years later, those events have been going through a domino reaction. I strongly feel that the tipping point was reached 15 yrs. ago. Will the USA step up to the plate & do its part to reduce emissions? No! Not with the economic climate in flux as we speak. Any & all projects that were up for votes are going to get slashed to the bone, & that includes funding for cleaner air etc. Our food & gas prices are about to go through the roof.
    I do my part but feel I am banging my head on the wall, because my neighbors cancel what small good I have tried to do. I will keep on doing my part but to be honest, if the government here does what I fear it will do, I will spend my dollar on food instead of an energy effi. light blub.
    • Comment deleted

      • thumb
        Apr 21 2011: Yes, the gap between haves and have-nots is stalling negotiations on world economic policies as well as climate. If climate change damages other nations I wonder if eventually they'll sue the US and maybe China for reparations. Also if mass relocations are necessary because some areas become less inhabitable would immigrants sue to get relocation land in the countries that have contributed most to climate change?
  • thumb

    Chi Che

    • +1
    Apr 17 2011: Thank you for your understanding ! Let's do our best to protect our earth together! LOL
  • thumb
    Apr 16 2011: Davie,
    It's never a waste of time to respect and care for our environment. My parents taught me as a child, 60 years ago, to recycle, restore, repair, renovate and reuse EVERYTHING, whenever possible, rather than buying new and tossing the old in a land fill. We raised our own food, and were not allowed to EVER leave a light on or water running if we were not using it. Part of their reason was financial, and part environmental. At that time, there was no known threat to the environment, as far as I knew, but it was important to my mother, especially, to care for the environment. Doing all the small things in our daily lives, that can contribute to a cleaner, safer environment has been my lifestyle since I was a child.

    Later, as I traveled to secluded parts of the world, I started to realize more about the gifts we have that we often don't even recognize. Many people in our world do not have clean drinking water or electricity. Every time I switch on the electric now, I think of how lucky I am to have it. Every time I use water, I think of the people I've seen in our world walking miles to get water, or a whole village using one small water source to wash their bodies, clothes, dishes, animals and for drinking, or some people who simply do not have any. I consider myself lucky to have so many comforts that many people do not have.

    When we are mindful of the earth and how it sustains us, how can it ever feel like a waste of time to protect it? Realy...how difficult is it to put something in a recycle bin rather than the trash? How difficult is it to switch off that light when not in use? Are we worth the effort? In protecting the earth, we're protecting ourselves.
    • thumb
      Apr 16 2011: Hi Colleen ! well said......I fully agree with you.,......we also were brought up taking care of our resources long before there even was any environmental discussion.
      We were the 1.generation born after WWII and our parents, during the war, learned to appreciate the value of our resources, whether that was water, food or anything else. These experiences influenced the way we were brought up.
      • thumb
        Apr 17 2011: Hi Harald:>)
        Yes...the depression and WWll taught our parents to be conservative and resourceful, and I'm grateful they passed that concept on to me. Now, it is a matter of us passing it on to others:>)
        Hope your gardens are doing well:>)
    • thumb
      Apr 17 2011: hi coleen,

      firstly, i do recycle and i care for the planet more than most, i agree with your comment. my point is, we can do all the saving energy we like but if the likes of China and the US do not change their ways, which i think is never going to happen, our contribution is minimal. i will continue to try and do my but but i fear it is in vain as the countries of the world that are making the biggest impact will not be making the same steps as me.
      • thumb
        Apr 17 2011: Hi Davie,
        When we look at any big global challenge, it sometimes feels overwhelming. Realistically, we can only change things in our own little space, and that is what we need to continue to do. Regardles of what anyone else does. I respect and protect the environment as much as possible in my own space, and I share that idea with as many people as will listen...that's all I can do. What we focus on expands, so I spend my energy focusing on the difference you and I make:>) Each country is made up of people, and if we can manage to touch others with our idea, it is contagious:>)
        • thumb
          Apr 17 2011: the problem for me is, doing my tiny tiny bit isnt helping my overall concern. id like to think it is contagious, but only to people such as ourselves. i am very worried about the next 20, 50 years. my children and their grandchildren will have a world full of climatic uncertainty.

          i will continue to try and do my bit, and nervously anticipate the years ahead.
      • thumb
        Apr 17 2011: Davie,
        You are "doing your bit" by traveling, exploring, asking questions, becoming more aware of the situation, and taking action to change things for the better. Starting this discussion is part of "your bit". Every little thing we can do to bring awareness to others, is a step in the right direction:>)
        Carry on! I'm sending you energy for positive change:>)
        • thumb
          Apr 17 2011: i love your enthusiasm! ill see what i can do! :)
      • thumb
        Apr 17 2011: Enthusiasm for an idea is contagious too:>) You are "doing" and "being" what is needed to change our world. Thank you for that:>)
  • thumb
    Apr 16 2011: Small steps work and add up, however, to make them work, everybody must do them and that's where the problem is.
    Many people think that only big steps can impact our world and, since they are not willing or not able to make the big one, they just don't do anything.
    We need to understand that if we are all making the small steps, we can change the world without having to make big sacrifices (another thing people are afraid of).
  • May 28 2011: It is a great forum/discussions here where most of us shared the same sense of urgency for this issue on hand, The interesting thing is that like what has been brought up, it is shared responsibilities that cuts across all nations, all individuals. To me, the strongest factor which we can called as our single, shared human destiny is this. I think the evidences of this impactful phenomenon are clear for all to see as progressively we are witnessing :-
    - developed countries being badly struck by unprecedented, unpredictable, onslaught in terms severe floods or severe storms which resulted in many deaths and cities been destroyed
    - some scientific findings that the rise in temperatures are killing corals in many parts of the world that threatens fish stock
    - the deeply, pressurised methane that gets locked up under the seabeds maybe leaking and aggravating the situation
    - a study seemed to suggest that plants may end up being net oxygen intaker instead of being CO2 intaker (O2 emitter)

    Pls don't get me wrong, I am not trying to 'prophecies' abt doomsday but I reckon that at the rate we are going, we are not far from it when we are not ready with any alternative solution. What's all the economic growth, modern lifestyle etc means when we are not even sure what's going to hit us tomorrow? Wish more awareness can be created globally and some united actions can be taken by all.
  • May 9 2011: I share your question--are we wasting our time doing our bit for reducing emeissions? And I share your fear that we may have passed the tipping point, so it may be too late. However, we don't know if we have passed the point beyond which our individual actions--and even global actions--are too late. Therefore, we have no choice but to do our best--individually and collectively--to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The global climate action campaign known as 350 is built on the premise that we can act, we can get others to act, and our massive demonstrations of the need to act will eventually persuade governments--especially the U.S. and China--to act. It may be our only hope.
  • thumb
    Apr 17 2011: I share your concern, Davie. Small personal efforts are important and no long-term solution can happen until they're world-wide practices. But the big levers are in government policy, and that's pretty bleak. Just a couple of weeks ago Jeffrey Sachs, Dir of the Columbia U Earth Institute gave a speech at Harvard titled: "Regimes won't halt climate change" (http://hvrd.me/gNxupp). Basically, he said the energy companies and the right wing in the US will paralyze policy change so we need to think of something else.

    But here's what I don't understand: Why don't concerned citizens all over the planet start to put pressure on US politicians and companies to stop denying climate change and make policy change? Why do people in the UK think what happens in the US is none of their business? Climate change does not respect the goofy lines on maps we call national boundaries, so why do people?

    Who is president of the US and who is in the US Congress is a legitimate interest of everybody. The US can do so much good or bad, as we all know. Why not contribute money to climate organizations to influence US federal elections? Why not have marches in all capitals protesting US inaction? Why not bombard members of Congress and the executives of energy corporations with mail? Have demonstrations world-wide in front of their offices. Take to the streets, break some windows, raise hell. Take a cue from middle-eastern youth and use social media to coordinate world-wide action. Flood YouTube with videos.

    I'll be dead in 20 years and I have no children, but I can't stand the Earth being despoiled. I see women on the streets with children in strollers, and I can't understand why they're not rioting in the streets about climate. Those kids are going to suffer the consequences.

    Climate change is perhaps the first world-unifying thing that should make us toss out old ideas of nations and come together so we save our own skins.
    • thumb
      Apr 17 2011: David,
      I agree that many right wingers in the US have paralyzed policy change, and I'm optimistic enough to believe it is now changing. We need to continue to be persistant. I agree that presure on politicians and companies to stop denying climate change could help, and I also agree with most of your suggestions. Raising hell, and breaking windows is not the way to create beneficial change however. We've seen those kinds of practices with some of the right wingers. "GET OUT YOUR GUNS AND STOP THOSE FOOLS WHO THINK THERE IS A CLIMATE CHANGE".

      I do agree David, that we can coordinate action with social media, and it would be beneficial to do it in a non-violent way:>)
    • Apr 18 2011: Hi David, there are many frustrations but there has been progress, though it has been slow, especially when you realize that environmental awareness has been growing in earnest for almost 50 years. Cars and trucks emit less, industries are cleaner, the conservation message is getting out. They may be token results, comparatively, but as Colleen says, persistence is essential. Truth is that even if the US and Canada were squeaky clean, the pollution from other countries (probably making things that we consume) would still be an issue so it requires considerable global collaboration. NASA had hoped to have an Orbiting Carbon Observatory in space in 2009 but that launch failed and is rescheduled for 2013. If that works, it is expected to give a better idea of what the natural and human sources and sinks of CO2 are and where they are located, globally. There is much foot-dragging but persistence leads to progress :-)
      • thumb
        Apr 19 2011: Julie Ann, I don't disagree that there is some progress. But the US is key. Other countries are thinking "Why should we sacrifice when the US -- the biggest contributor to the problem for decades -- isn't doing anything?" Some people in this discussion thread have expressed concern that we are close to or have already crossed a tipping point or point of no return. Time is critical.

        Young climate activists meeting last week in Washington threatened to abandon Obama in 2012 because he hasn't done anything on climate. I don't blame them. Frankly, they're the ones who're going to decide what action to take. Their lives are on the line. http://nyti.ms/feXUNX
        • thumb
          Apr 19 2011: David,
          You say "other countries are thinking...why should we sacrifice when the US...the biggest contributor to the problem for decades...isn't doing anything"? Some of us are doing something, and have learned from other countries that are setting a better example.

          I feel your frustration, and totally agree with you. The motivation has to start with each and every one of us as individuals. What are you doing to facilitate change?
        • Apr 19 2011: But David, there are a lot of intelligent people out there who deny that the climate issue is anywhere near as serious as the 'alarmists' (for want of a better word) claim. No, they are not all ignorant ostriches; many of them have sincere beliefs based on dispassionate analysis of the facts. The more I read, the more I find myself moving into that camp. So is massive action on an international scale really appropriate when the science is far from settled?

          My scepticism hinges mainly on the models used, because although I'm not a climate scientist I do know a little about computer models. They are immensely complex and extraordinarily sensitive to the data that is input and the assumptions they are built on. Ross and McKitrick demonstrated that you could feed almost any random data into Michael Mann's model and the result would be a hockey stick graph like the one the IPCC based so much of its recommendations on. And I referred you in another thread to a more recent report -- by a highly qualified climate scientist -- that pointed out the tripling formula that is used in almost all CO2 models but that he believes to be false. Were any econometric models any use in predicting the recent financial meltdown? No, and yet massive sums of money and time are spent on them. Does the weather forecast give you confidence in models? I hope not.

          I truly believe slow and steady is the way to go rather than implementing a massive panic-mode world-wide program to do... what? reduce CO2? experiment with countermeasures?
        • thumb
          Apr 20 2011: I agree Revett, that "steady is the way to go rather than implementing a massive panic-mode...program". Data can always be manipulated, and I agree that in some instances, it has been, in an attempt to get people motivated by frightening the population. Whether or not an individual believes that our environment is in danger, we should all be working toward protecting it. We KNOW about some things that pollute, and we HAVE some environmental rules which are meant to keep our environment cleaner and safer. We need to use the information we have that has been proven. Too many times, polluting has been allowed, in spite of environmental laws, and that is what we need to address. we have some of the tools in place, that could help us protect the environment. We need to use them effectively, consistently and steadily:>)
        • Apr 20 2011: Colleen: Right on. Climate is just one aspect of the whole environment and I totally agree that we need to take reasonable actions to minimize our 'footprint', in all areas of nature. The question then becomes: What is "reasonable"?

          Like you, I was raised to minimize waste, turn off lights when I leave the room, keep the heat down particularly at night, wear a sweater, compost, recycle if I can't reuse, and so on. I have done all those things all my life. What scares me are the radical, almost religious, environmentalists who want to throw billions of dollars of other people's money at a series of issues that they have just discovered. So the climate is changing. OK, the climate has always changed. Let's take our time and figure out how much, if any, of that change is anthropogenic, and then let's figure out some sensible, achievable things we can do to mitigate or minimize those changes. But let's not go the Al Gore route and indoctrinate millions of young -- and some not-so-young -- people with dubious "facts" based on relatively untested theories, and stampede our way into some truly stupid and irreversible actions. Let's also keep a jaundiced eye on things like Alberta's oil sands -- a subject that, not surprisingly, is near and dear to my heart -- and let's make sure we develop and maintain a sensible balance between the environment and our need for fuel, instead of ranting and demonizing the whole process with little or no knowledge of what actually goes on.

          I agree we should make sure we enforce environmental laws that are often flouted. But I think many of the proposals for additional such laws are based too much on blind emotion and not enough on balancing the different considerations at play. My Dad used to say: "Moderation and compromise, my boy. Nobody wants them but everybody has to accept them." Now that I'm older than he was when he said that, I understand it!
        • thumb
          Apr 20 2011: Revett,
          There's an important word you've used a couple times...BALANCE. It seems like those of us who have been aware of environmental impact all our lives, are looking for balance, while those who are just discovering the impact of certain lifestyles are generally the ones who are way to one side or the other?
        • thumb
          Apr 20 2011: Hi Revett, the problem is that nature is a pretty complex system. We are far from being able to understand how everything is connected and how one change effects other elements in the system.
          One of the arguments that come up frequently is that climate change happened already many times in earth's history. And this is certainly true. I believe, the climate change in itself isn't the real issue, but the speed with which it occurs. In the past, life on our planet had much more time to adjust to environmental changes. In our time, it might simply go too fast to allow many organism's to adjust.
          There is a lot of evidence that we are in the midst of a new mass extinction.
          I think, as long as we don't fully understand everything, it's better to err on the safe side. Because of the complexity of our ecosystems, once we are on the wrong path, there isn't any easy going back.

          P.S. it's not only about climate change, but the overall damage we do to the environment.
        • thumb
          Apr 21 2011: I agree Harald, that "it's not only about climate change, but the overall damage we do to the environment". We need to be aware of the damage we're doing all the time, and ready, willing and able to make changes to reverse and/or prevent at least some of the damage.

          Pabitra,
          I am embarrassed and ashamed to be from one of the most abundant countries in the world, and the country that wastes and misuses resources at a stagering rate. It IS a big deal, and more of us need to pay attention. I agree that we need to think about a meaningful life for as many people as possible, rather than the few who are used to so many comforts.
        • Apr 23 2011: Just wanted to add, I think there are other far more pressing concerns than whether climate change is occurring, or whether the warming trends are caused by humans or not. What is known is that the pollution is slowly killing many people, impairing their quality of life, affecting children. There are a host of diseases and maladies associated with pollution - air, water or land. I think it is for these reasons we should act. Did anyone see the smog alert for England and Wales for this weekend?
      • thumb
        Apr 20 2011: Scores Of Climate Activists Arrested, More Confrontational Protests Planned On BP Spill Anniversary http://huff.to/f7TqpU That's what I'm talkin' about! I think it's the young who are going to lead on this matter.

        Call me Old Skool (I was at Berkeley when Ronald Regan had National Guard helicopters tear-gas the campus) but I think public demonstrations and civil disobedience are the best ways to express deep concern about something. Slactivism and endless dialogue just favor doing nothing. I'm feeling encouraged that some attention-getting action is happening among the young. But it needs to become a one-world phenom. US young especially would benefit from uniting with other young from around the planet. The reality is that we already are in many respects one-word and that's something young people need to deal with the rest of their lives. CEOs of multinational corps already know this, but most US citizens don't.
    • thumb
      Apr 19 2011: David, you are asking very valid questions. I think the answer why people don't get on the barricades is that the environmental predicaments don't impact their live in an immediate negative way.
      Yes they hear that our ecosystems are damaged, but they think "so what ? Aren't the forests still green and aren't there still fish in the lakes and corals in the ocean ?"
      To overcome people's inertia it requires the proverbial sledgehammer on the head. Unless the problem hits everybody front on and painfully, people always will try to resist.
  • Comment deleted

    • thumb
      Apr 17 2011: Pabitra,
      I think "doing your bit" will continue to be redefined depending on what our beliefs are, and how important the environment is to us as individuals. We need to do the small things AND take the big steps toward change. I've talked about turning off lights and recycling on this site...

      What I have not yet mentioned on this site, is involvement in other ways. When realizing that a business on adjoining property to my home was in violation of environmental laws, I reported them to the environmental board. My life was threatened, and I was nicknamed Erin Brokovitch for awhile. Finally, the business was ordered by the state environmental court to vacate the site. The owner of the toxic business was the chair of the local permitting board, so I got appointed to that board and addressed conflict of interest. Eventually, I was appointed to the regional planning commission, transportation advisory committee, project review committee and brownfields committee (evaluates toxic sites for clean-up, funded by the USEPA)

      Having taken some of these steps to work on creating a better environment, I sometimes get tired of people complaining about the situation and not taking appropriate action. I agree, that our political leaders should take action. We are the people of the nations, and the initiative has to be addressed on many levels. We can accomplish a lot by working within the established structure, rather than spending energy fighting against it.

      On a regional level, we've suceeded in bringing government officials into our circle to work with us. We represent the people, they represent the people, and that is our commonality. It doesn't do any good to criticize the political leaders, because at least here in the US, we elect them! We the people need to take the responsibility for putting certain people in office, and also, doing our part to facilitate change on many different levels

      We can ask the question of ourselves: What are we willing to do?
      • Comment deleted

        • thumb
          Apr 18 2011: Hi Pabitra,
          Thank you, and the reason I tell my story, is to reinforce the idea that all of us together need to do whatever we can to change the patterns. The steps we take could be anything from recycling, planting gardens, or challenging a toxic business. It all helps, we are all capable of doing more or less at any given time. I may not have challenged the toxic business, for example, when my children were at home because I wouldn't want to put them at risk. Although they were already at risk from toxins in the air, that is not like a death threat by your neighbor! We are all at different stages of our lives, different financial situations, etc. That's why it is helpful to ask the question, what can we do as individuals?

          The one thing we all have, is the ability to be aware. I totally agree with you about the global political systems, and it is the citizenry that is going to push for change. I also agree that our connections are going to help facilitate change. You are right, Erin Brokovitch probably could not have stopped companies in other contries. There was a time, when she could not have stopped the toxic operation in this country, and now we're seeing more wistleblowers. I tell my story, to add to the energy of others who may be inspired to stand up to something that may seem beyond reach.
        • thumb
          Apr 19 2011: Thanks Iqbal nazir:>)
          Our environment is important, and I sincerely believe that every little step we take to protect it is valuable:>)
      • Apr 18 2011: Hi Colleen, bravo for taking a stand. I am sure the boards are better served with you on them. It is great when citizens stand up (and are allowed to stand up) for things they believe in. I have been suggesting to our city that they use some brownfields for greenhouse farming. There is an old inbuilt mindset that industries are better as they create more jobs. The problem in many cases is there are few innovative thinkers in policy making. The other problem is to get past politicians who are only interested in their getting the popular vote, and will create or kill projects as necessary to get those votes.
        • thumb
          Apr 18 2011: Thanks Julie Ann,
          As I said in another comment, I tell my story to hopefully inspire others to take whatever steps they can toward a beneficial goal for all of us.

          Another mindset that we need to get past, is that we either have industry that creates jobs OR a cleaner environment. I believe we can have both. Here in Vermont, we have many incentives to encourage clean industry. The USEPA brownfields project is available nationally, as far as I know. How many states are using funding that is available right now for clean up? How many regions are actually using the the environmental rules that are in place right now? Affectively using what is already in place in the government structure is an important starting point, which we ignore sometimes.

          On the regional project review committee, in one of the most depressed counties in the state, we are very aware of promoting and encouraging businesses that provide more jobs, and also very aware of the environment. As we continue to encourage businesses to grow in an environmentally friendly way, developers and business owners KNOW that growing AND protecting the environment CAN and do co-exist with awareness. I strongly believe the idea that we can only have one or the other needs to go!

          Good for you Julie Ann for suggesting cleaning up brownfields for reuse. That is what the USEPA funding I mentioned, is available for. Only property that is going to be used for re-development qualifies for that program. I think, at least here in Vermont, politicians are realizing that to get the votes, they MUST be concerned with the environment:>)
      • thumb
        Apr 19 2011: Colleen, Pabrita: I agree with both of you. I think what we need are both approaches. The political to tackle the large regional and global issues, but also the individual approach of "small steps".
        The main problem I see for not moving any faster is a wrong perception by the general public of what it means to be environmental friendly.
        Unfortunately, the green movement, was actually counter productive to progress on environmental issues, because voluntarily or involuntarily, they created the image of being environmental friendly means going back to the cave.
        And I think that's as wrong as it can get. So, probably to get the general public to adopt an environmental friendly lifestyle, the image of "environmental friendly" and "green" has to be redefined.
        As long as people are scared that their hard won luxury will be taken from them, they will not change.
    • Apr 18 2011: Hi Pabitra, for some countries, environmental regulations are actually in place but they are not enforced, so really they have no teeth, so to speak.
      • thumb
        Apr 19 2011: yes, Mexico, where I live is a sad example for that.
        • thumb
          Apr 19 2011: Harald and Julie Ann,
          It is a sad example here in the US as well. When I started exploring the situation with the toxic business, I discovered that because the owner was the chair of the local permitting board for 20 years, everyone simply ignored the situation. When I reported it to the regional environmental board director, he also ignored it at first, because the business did work for the state, and he knew the owner. It really took a lot of pressure over a period of 3 or 4 years to get the authorities to enforce environmental rules that were in place for a long time. The equipment that was part of the federal violation was removed immediately by the owner because he probably knew it was a federal violation. I suspect he knew he could control the local and some of the state officials, but not the USEPA.

          I believe enforcing the regulations that have been in place for a long time is an issue everywhere. That's why the more people speak up about it, the more awareness everyone has about the challenge, and perhaps the more effectively the authorities will address the environmental issues.
        • Apr 23 2011: Hi Colleen, I don't know of any cases here where government officials have been influenced directly by industry or private individuals, though it is quite possible. However, I do know that the processes are prolonged and drawn out, to the frustration of many.
      • Comment deleted

        • thumb
          Apr 21 2011: And I think the teeth are beginning to gain strength because of people like you who are willing to address the issues:>)
  • Apr 16 2011: Hi David, the perspective I like to take is that concept of climate change should not be the major focus of our attention. Rather, our health and especially the health of our children should take precedence. The greenhouse gas everyone talks about is CO2. Its precursor gases come primarily from combustion of carbon-based fuels. Transportation and power generation are major contributors. The precursor gases that we breathe in with every breath are toxic, some are carcinogenic. Children who experience prolonged exposure (live near industry or major roads, for example), have retarded lung development. They have asthma and other lung diseases and may develop cancers. The same is true for adults, for whom heart disease and premature death are also linked to air quality. If our children are outside playing soccer on a bad air day, they are experiencing inflammation in the lungs. So, essentially, whether we accept climate change as real or not, the immediate interest should be quality of life. If life is worth living, it is worth living healthily.

    However, change takes a long time. There is a very strong political component but there is also personal resistance to change, which is perfectly understandable. But we now have a generation that is growing up with this information, and there are ongoing efforts to find and apply cleaner energy sources. I am encouraged that the next generation will do better and fare better. So, each action whether it be a light turned off, the use of a hybrid vehicle, cleaner power generation - all mean reduced exposure to toxins for us and our kids and their kids. The automatic result will be a reduction of greenhouse gases.
    • thumb
      Apr 16 2011: Julie Ann, you say that changes take a long time. I disagree with that statement. Look for example what's going on, politically, in the Middle East.
      They key to change is not so much time, but a critical mass of people wishing to make those changes. Once you got the critical mass, things are actually moving pretty fast.
      If you are interested in this topic, I suggest the book "The dipping point" by Malcolm Gladwell.
      • Apr 16 2011: Hi Harald, yes I am familiar with The Tipping Point and you are right, we need just a critical mass. I think we are close to that point - in fact I think that tipping is already occurring, just. With respect to the comment about things taking time, I refer to North Americans who, in general, tend to be relatively comfortable with their way of life and, on the whole, do resist change. But I think if we focus on the undeniable harm to health and quality of life as opposed to a fight over whether or not climate change is occurring, there might be greater incentive to tip :-). cheers.
        • thumb
          Apr 16 2011: Hi Julie Ann, I hope you are right and we are close to tipping, although I'm not so convinced yet. Especially if we look at a global level. Some countries (such as in Europe) are more advanced than others (developing countries) when it comes to protecting the environment.
          I think you are right, fighting whether climate change occurs or not and who or what is to blame for it, wastes only resources and energy that could be better used elsewhere.
          Important is education showing and explaining people what our predicaments are and how we can do better. This also includes showing people that making appropriate adjustments in their lifestyle doesn't mean going back to the dark ages and living in caves.
      • Apr 17 2011: Hi Harald, I think we are getting the message across and I am hopeful that our children and their children will be more responsible. A

        "This also includes showing people that making appropriate adjustments in their lifestyle doesn't mean going back to the dark ages and living in caves."
        So true. And sometimes simple things like growing a home or community garden can bring a family closer, healthier meals, less transportation (and coincident pollution), less pesticides and so on.

        Appreciate the comments:-)
        • thumb
          Apr 17 2011: I agree, and I think focusing on the positive aspects of change rather than the hardships or sacrifice, sometimes makes the effort seem more possible:>)
      • Apr 17 2011: Hi Colleen, indeed. Also, marketing strategies will be important in changing behaviors so that the changes are perceived as the cool thing to do rather than a forced option. Realistically, I don't think any real hardships are necessary - just maybe changes in the way we do things. For example, with a clean energy, well designed public transportation system, a person could get a comfortable seat/cubicle on a train, plug in a computer/iPad/whatever, get some coffee, work/read for an hour and be in a good frame of mind when they get to work. It may be preferable to driving a car on a congested road. So, it is a change but not a sacrifice, and we also have to develop this kind of transportation system as well :-)
        • thumb
          Apr 17 2011: Hi Julie Ann,
          I agree that no real hardships exist. That, however is a perception of some people who are balking at change. I believe that protecting our environment is always a "cool" thing to do:>)

          Public transportation is a great step forward. That's why I joined the regional transportation advisory committee years ago. The rail company in this area, is in the process of restoring/rebuilding many miles of rail system:>)
  • thumb
    Apr 16 2011: Hi,Davie.As a Chinese,I have to say that a lot of environment problems are created by us.Protecting the environment is more and more important to us and our goverment has done many things to reduce pollution.I'm very glad of what you have done to save resource ! We shouldn't regard it as a burden.Just like Chinese young people will give their seats to old men in bus. (I heared you westerns don't do that because the old men don't want to be regarded as very very old and would feel that the young men don't respect them. I don't know whether it's really ?) It should be regarded as a responsibility and virtue ! Fighting !
    • thumb
      Apr 17 2011: thank you for your reply, and.. i don't know about the bus thing, we let them sit down to.

      its wrong of us to push the blame onto china. china is merely doing what the west did post industrial revolution. the unfortunate problem is with the size of population and the type of energy (mainly coal) that china uses, the impact is imense.
    • Apr 17 2011: HI Chi Che, there is no question that a lot of pollution is generated by the industries there, but I believe the Chinese government is trying to make improvements. Would you be able to share with us what some of the steps for improvement are?
  • thumb
    Apr 16 2011: In this case the most simple answer is the correct one. I don't know why everyone is so convinced global warming is our fault
  • thumb
    Apr 16 2011: Your question is very intriguing and one pondered upon on a macro scale as well as a micro scale: cap and trade modelling. We can implement principles and feel that we are benefiting our country (it is localised), but there is the possibility that other countries are creating more seemingly indelible marks on our earth. We, as a country, go, "Why even bother curbing our own usage?" Now despite my comparison between individuals and the leaders of a country, I do not want to digress from your main point: the individual perspective. This just seemed an interesting comparison and how the collective mind of a society can echo the individual's twinges as they ruminate on their own morality and ethicality; the separation of morals (personal) and ethics (societal) is made apparent in this discussion, and they are not antithetical!

    And this is where I want to discuss from: if we do not have a radicalised movement (by this I mean a large uptake of individuals who actively address and issue or push for societal change), it is a rather pointless stand in terms of the principle of beneficence (though personal gain?). However, I would also like to point out that the majority are not always right. These minority groups on the fringe of society have influenced society greatly; this is demonstrative that society as a whole is not impervious to the efforts of one man, but to say it is more willing to accept a movement or group than one lonesome, stubbly environmentalist (forgive the stereotypical humour). I am sure there are many stubbly, lonesome environmentalists out there who feel the same way you do. This will have an accumulative effect; however, to make it more efficient and forceful, you need communicate and transmit that idea (evolution is now more than ever about the transmission of ideas).

    I do not feel disheartened at my flicking off one light bulb as it makes me feel I am doing my part as the connections grow between individuals like me, so will the benefits.