Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Same Green Sheet

Evidence of a great change in attitudes and behaviors towards our environment in our country and around the world is evident. Slowly, but more rapidly than ever before, individuals, communities, and governments are adopting greener ways of doing things. This is probably not due to a sudden change of heart towards our planet, but more probably due to the mounting evidence that mankind’s activities are affecting our very ability to survive on it. Also, we cannot deny the growing realization that an economy disdainful of our environment cannot complete with other economies that set strict standards for toxic chemicals and adopt tight environmental business practices.

Most are now aware that our species "Homo sapiens" are not simply passengers on a small pale blue orb spinning through the universe; we have been promoted to third-class environmental engineers. Those vagaries of our existence—disease, climate change, even our health--that our species hitherto perceived as beyond our control (fate) are increasingly understood as well within our area of influence.

This is heartening as businesses are springing up all over helping other businesses and communities green up. Efficiency, conservation, innovation, preservation, and reclamation are in the air. And, as in any great change, there will be people and businesses trying to game the new game—heralding their green credentials when in fact they have changed but little, merely checked off a list of better operating practices without a clue about the lifecycle of their products and services or their accumulative affect on our environment.

On the whole, though, most will try to do the right thing. But doing the right thing may take a while to understand and make systemic—i.e., make the right changes, not merely creating the illusion that we are making wholesale, world-wide changes. What I mean by this is that in order to actually adopt a sustainable way of life we all need to be singing from the same sheet of music, talking the same scientific language, the unambiguous laws of Nature. Hype, rants, ideological diatribes, and green quackery won’t do the trick.

Already, in our communities there are attempts to coordinate and orchestrate green efforts. Because we have avoided the hard choices for so long, ad hoc, and piecemeal changes by dedicated individuals are not going to be enough. Planetary changes are required. Programs like Climate Smart Communities by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is an example of a volunteer effort by a governmental agency hoping to get communities all on the same page, working toward the same goals, sharing information and guided by an agency that knows what its doing, as forty-one New York communities have already signed on.” Also, around the world governments are subscribing to the Climate Registry “that sets consistent and transparent standards to calculate, verify and publicly report greenhouse gas emissions into a single registry.”

The arc of history is long and bends towards justice, may be true. (Though, the millions who have suffered under Injustice throughout history while the rest of us padded comfortably up to the future probably would not agree.) But the arc of tending towards a greener future may extend longer than we have if we don’t make the necessary changes in time. With the laws of Nature, there’s no waiting around until we get it right.

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