Thursday, October 15, 2009

climate genie: wish list for blog action day

Today (and every October 15th) is Blog Action Day. Now in its third year, the event aims to bring worldwide attention to one critical global issue through the power of blogging. This year, that issue is climate change.

As someone who blogs fairly regularly about the human impact on our environment, I originally considered whipping out yet another issue and hammering into your brains why it's so critically important to our one shot at keeping the world habitable. But then came all the pressure of choosing the perfect topic, and, well, I blanked. So I decided that it would instead be more fun to make a list of things I'd love to see come true in the name of quelling some our climate problems. Call it my little climate genie project! But instead of the traditional three wishes, I get 10. Okay, here we go!

Wish #1: Here's where I wish for an infinite number of other wishes. Obviously.

Wish #2: I wish people would teach their kids not to keep the water running while they brush their teeth. Personally, I've never understood this phenomenon—why one would keep the water on whilst brushing one's teeth. Call me crazy, but I've never in my life kept the water running, and my teeth and I have turned out just fine, thank you. And as I now know as a grown-up, it's just a needless waste of water! And we all know how I feel about that.

Wish #3: I wish people would just recycle already. It's really not that hard, and if everyone got on board, it would decrease pollution and use of fossil fuels like nobody's business. I visited an environmentally-friendly camp in New Hampshire this weekend, and I was amazed at (okay, and a little jealous of) their recycling shed. Everything was separated into its proper place, like with like, in dozens of plastic bins. My inner "J" was off the charts! And while I admit that most city dwellers like myself don't have room for such a tidy separation depot, lots of other Americans do; simply use a corner of your garage, ladies and germs. Even if that's too advanced for you, just separating your empty bottles and used newspapers and doing what you need to do to get these items to your municipal recycling collection area would be a huge step forward.

Wish #4: I wish people would carpool more. It just makes sense. Vehicle emissions are one of the biggest contributors to global warming, and while I'm not saying we should take all cars off the streets, it behooves us to use them more wisely. Plus, it would decrease traffic! A win-win for those of you who otherwise can't use public transportation.

Wish #5: I wish major supermarkets would start restricting what foods are available at certain times of the year. The amount of money spent and carbon dioxide belched into the air trucking out-of-season foods thousands of miles across the continent is just shameful. Not only that, all the time spent in transit means the foods you buy are far from fresh, even if you eat them the day you take them home!

Wish #6: I wish people would stop watching crappy doomsday movies like The Day After Tomorrow. These over-the-top films don't do any good for the dissemination of real science. Don't get me wrong, I am a science fiction fan. But I would bet that most people who go to these slick Hollywood apocalypse flicks come out thinking that whatever the hunky actor playing a government agent just said was real science, since it sure sounded plausible. No, friends, the Statue of Liberty isn't going to be underwater anytime soon. Don't believe the hype!

Wish #7: I wish we would finally get serious about solar energy. The Chinese are starting to make it a priority, and the U.S. is painfully behind in making solar cell technology cheap enough to compete with other fuel sources. We've got another several billion years of sunlight left; let's do this!

Wish #8: Back to food: I wish people would start thinking more critically about where their food comes from. Agriculture is another one of the biggest sources of pollution in the world, whether it's in the form of the chemicals used as fertilizers and pesticides, or in the form of methane burped and tooted out of cattle. I guarantee you if you follow the trail back far enough, it'll make you sick to know what that double Whopper just did to the people, animals, plants, and soil it touched along the way to your mouth.

Wish #9: I wish someone would build a car that could drive 300+ miles on one tank and look awesome in the process. What? It's already been done? Score!

Wish #10: And finally, I wish we would really start teaching our kids what climate change is all about. Let's stop treating this like some political hot-button issue that'll offend people to high heaven and blow up in everyone's face if we actually discuss it in any meaningful way. Climate change is not made up; it is happening, and we've known about it for at least half a century. The kids of today are going to be living with our messed up world for a long time to come. The least we owe them is a basic understanding of what's going on so that they'll be equipped with, at the minimum, an accurate vocabulary with which to continue the discussion with their kids. One idea: It would be great to start some version of the TED talks (which I love dearly) specifically aimed at grades 6-12. That would be sweet!

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