Wednesday, November 12, 2014

50+ Years Isn't Enough for Humans to Get the Message - Day 12

A life of "hard knocks' abounds for door-to-door canvassers. They spend hours every evening walking, knocking and talking to raise funds for "the cause". My 'cause' was the environment. At twenty I started canvassing. I learned K.I.S.S., or "keep is simple sweetie"; the more concise the canvasser the more people reached, and the greater the funds collected for the evening.

Working with the League of Conservation Voters I quickly became familiar with both environmental issues and the politics associated with them. At the time we were gathering signatures for Prop. 65 the "Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act", it ended up passing. Victory spurred my commitment to the movement, fostering my development as an environmental activist.

I spent years supporting environmental action and encouraging people to practice protecting resources. Moreover, I walked my talk - I  bought organic, recycled, brought my bags to the grocery, shut off lights, took short showers, made sure my toilet paper had post consumer content and bought cleansers and cleaners that were "non-toxic". I was so committed that I got a degree in Environmental Studies and started a non-profit organization called "Sustainable Works".

Advocating for the environment is a rough road. Maybe not as bad as it was years ago, but it is still difficult none-the-less. There are so many people on the planet who a.) just do not "get it",  b.) who "get it" and do not care, or c.) who can not do anything about it.

In 2004 I gave up, I got tired of banging my head against the wall, listening to people complain about what they had to give up. They could not see the future in their actions, or felt that their contribution to the problem was too small. Jaded, cynical, and defeated, I left Sustainable Works. I did this just as Al Gore's "Inconvenient Truth" came out, and all of a sudden it was cool to be "green"; as long as you owned a Prius and recycled, you were doing your part, and supposedly that was enough.  Even with the paradigm shift that happened with Gore's film, I was not coming back, the movement had sucked the life out of me, and I had nothing left to give.

Sometimes I feel guilty. Many people who worked for years to support the environment, doing remarkable things, continued the "good fight". In fact, many are still at it. Unfortunately, progress is slow, too slow I think. It has been almost 53 years since Rachel Carson wrote "Silent Spring" and frankly, I do not think we have done enough, certainly not in the time we have had to make a difference.

Today's historic climate change exchange between the US and China is a case in point; it is a mixed bag, with some suggesting that even if  both countries were able to meet the pledges they have committed to, the impact would be negligible in reducing the anticipated increase in global temperatures.

Fifty three years and we still balk. I think it is because we fail to see ourselves as a collective. We think that each one of us acts alone and thus our contribution to the problem seems small, and perhaps it is. But in truth, with 7 BILLION people on the planet, those small contributions add up (especially if you are a resource sucking Westerner, particularly an American - no offense, just offering the facts based on consumption statistics - we Americans consume way more than most other nations when it comes to natural resources). Collectively we have an enormous impact. Perhaps more sad is our disconnect and denial from the truth of our actions.

At what point are we going to wake up and make changes? Maybe never, perhaps we will be like the frog in the boiling pot of water, who does not realize he is being heated up until it is too late. I thought we were smarter than frogs.

What is your ecological footprint?

5 thanksgivings:
  1. I am grateful for my years of activism.
  2. I am grateful for the many people who continue to fight for Mother Earth.
  3. I am grateful for awareness, and a willingness to change.
  4. I am grateful for companies that engage in Corporate Environmental & Social Responsibility.
  5. I am grateful for Bill Selby, Norm Hogg, Dave Phillips and Dean Kubani - 4 amazing mentors.

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