(This is an update of my 2008 article: Not So Easy To Be Green.)
It should be easy being green. That is to say, it should be easy to live sustainably. It should be easy to work and play and move from place to place and keep ourselves warm (or cool) and eat and breathe and allow our children and those in the future to do the same without crashing our life support system. But unless you are living in Ashton Hayes, England, “a well knit community of about 1000 people that is aiming to become England's first carbon neutral community”1, you’re probably going to find being green tough.
Fossil fuels, which Trump is trying to resuscitate and reinvigorate, are so ensnarled into our way of life that even the best of efforts to go green are still going to have a significant carbon footprint. If you travel, what you drive is either power by fossil fuels or made with them. Even if you walk, that involves fossil fuels because sidewalks are made with machinery made from burning fossil fuels. If you eat, fossil fuels in some way probably got that food to your table. If you heat or cool your building, most likely fossil fuels make that possible.
I could go on, but you get the idea. Our lives are so riddled with burning fossil fuels, which are warming the planet, it is almost inconceivable to quickly rid ourselves of this energy source. But we have to do so and we have to do so soon.
Trump has allowed the very convenient (although wrong) position that business as usual is not only desirable but sustainable. Polluting our collective natural resources, by continuing to burn fossil fuels and ratcheting down environmental regulations only allows us the delusion of growth, especially for those already benefitting from these outdated practices. But this way of existence is truly delusional because it threatens everyone, including those doing well, only a short time longer. Just about the time Trump leaves office, we will have blown our carbon budget:
Analysis: Just four years left of the 1.5C carbon budget Four years of current emissions would be enough to blow what’s left of the carbon budget for a good chance of keeping global temperature rise to 1.5C. That’s the conclusion of analysis by Carbon Brief, which brings the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) carbon budgets up to date to include global CO2 emissions in 2016. Our infographic above shows how quickly the budgets for 1.5C, 2C and 3C will be used up if emissions continue at the current rate. For 1.5C, this could be a soon as four years’ time. (April 5, 2017) Carbon Brief [more on Climate Change in our area]
Trump is allowing too many of us to give into our worst angels just when the doors to hell are opening for our arrival. The American dream is not going to happen if we’re all cooking in our own juices.
Just after our Civil War, when Reconstruction was but a dream, many former slaves risked life and limb informing authorities about violence from the white community. These former slaves expected justice beyond all evidence to the contrary that they would get it. But these people who had been beaten and abused for decades believed that our country could be the place where all people are created equal. They didn’t just pine away and dream; they attempted to conduct their lives as if the reconstructed country was actually going to practice what they preached. This took an incredible amount of faith in humanity, a faith that someday a people thrown into slavery would someday be treated as equals, get an education, and own businesses themselves.
They kept their eyes on the prize. Their struggle provides a beacon of hope that humanity can change, and do so quickly.
It can be easy to be green if we envision what a sustainable existence can be and move inexorably towards that goal. Once accomplished, once we have rid ourselves of burning up dead animals and plants and redesigning our way of existing as fair and sustainable, it will be easy. Being green will be easy because it will be built into the very fabric of our existence.
A beacon of hope:
Check out one of the major environmental events this Earth Month 2017, by the Rochester Regional Group of the Sierra Club. The president of the national Sierra Club, Aaron Mair, is going to be speaking on Intersectionality and Building a Strong Climate Movement:
“This year, your Rochester Regional Group of the Sierra Club is bringing a distinguished advocate for environmental justice to Rochester. He is Aaron Mair, the President of the Sierra Club and a powerful speaker who can inspire our community. Our hope is that this can be a ground breaking event for Rochester bringing together the white progressive community with the communities of color. Aaron has a long history in working for environmental change. He succeeded in shutting down a dirty incinerator plant in Albany, NY by revealing how pollution was causing sickness in the people of color who lived around it. ”2:
“Thursday, April 20th from 7-9 PM at the New Bethel CME Church located at 270 Scio Street, Rochester, NY 14605. Come early to visit tables of local environmental groups to find out what they are doing in our area from 6-6:30 PM. This event is free and open to the public. He will also be addressing classes at the University of Rochester and Rochester Institute of Technology. You can find a schedule on our Facebook page early April. We are very excited the opportunity has arrived to join forces with the communities of color on the issues that affect us all.”3.