On a morning where I woke up to an inch of snow, putting me in a fowl mood, this article in Fast Company (click here now or later), pushed me over the top. Full disclosure, I’m always cranky in the morning.
The article reviews why five geo-engineering schemes won’t really work to alter climate change, which I whole heartily agree with – the article, not geo-engineering. I won’t go into great depth, because I’m supposed to be working, but suffice to say, here is my take.
There are all kinds of major, life changing problems in this world. Many of the key players who control our resources and affect our health and well-being are more concerned with profits and global domination, rather than the well-being of his fellow man. Yes the climate has changed because mankind has been burning fossil fuels incessantly for the last 200 years or so, in an industrial effort to make everything from life saving heart machines to cheap plastic throw away gum ball toys made in China. Companies like Monsanto are hell-bent on profiting from the distraction of our food system (you’re likely profiting as well by the way). And big energy companies tear down our mountains, contaminate our water (and even destroy a state) just to get something to burn. The list goes on and on.
The effects are a world that is increasingly difficult to survive in. Governments are forced to enact more regulations. Health care costs go up as we try to stay ahead of booming populations and environmentally caused sickness. Insurance rates go up to pay for natural disasters. Costs of goods rise as resources are depleted. Political and social justice falls by the wayside in an increasingly out-of-balance world. And the cycle continues unless we change how we go about living in this world.
Seemingly mankind’s only approach to problem solving is an “end of pipe” approach. Trying to fix the problem once the cow is out of the barn so to speak (one of my wife’s favorite sayings after I do something stupid). This leads to a vicious cycle where no real change ever happens.
Companies like Dow and Monsanto genetically engineer corn and other seeds to resist their toxic soup of insecticides that kill harmful and helpful insects like honey bees, as well as create a pitifully weak monoculture devoid of weeds. The basically play the role of god and nature in a horrible game of life and death. The bugs and weeds develop resistance to the toxins, so these companies re-engineer the toxins to be more potent, starting the cycle all over again. In the meantime they bankroll our political system and 401K’s to assure that we’re slaves to their model. Farmers have to buy their product or get sued. Ultimately they have a monopoly on Big Agriculture in North America and elsewhere in the world. Instead of working with nature to grow more food, these companies dominate it under the banner of profit and man’s manifest destiny to rule over the land.
In our climate change example manufacturing and energy companies extract carbon from the earth’s crust in the form of oil and coal, then burn it to make energy, releasing the carbon into the atmosphere. An end-of-pipe approach burdens these companies with regulations and doesn’t get at the core of the problem.
We need to stop looking to science and technology to save us from problems that they got us into in the first place. I am not saying that I oppose science and tech solutions. Not at all. What I’m saying is look at the core cause of the problem and make change there.
Don’t just put a band-aid on at the end. That is not making a difference.
Raising insurance rates, imposing regulations, re-engineering nature and other reactions to these problems isn’t going to work. You’d wouldn’t just give an alcoholic coffee and aspirin every morning or an annual liver transplant and hope the problem goes away. We need to stop taking that approach with our planet.
What can you do?
- Educate yourself. There is a ton of easily accessible information, and it’s not just on fridge tree-hugger websites. Check out EcoWatch, CNN, Huffington Post, and Fast Company. Listen to others. Engage in constructive conversations. Take a walk in nature. Gain knowledge.
- Think for yourself. Take the time to go for a walk and reflect on what is important to you. Don’t be a slave to what the media, politicians, friends and family think. Think about your life, and the lives of your children or the lives of all the other children, of all species, out there. Think about what you need to live: water, air, food, shelter, safety. Think about how things are produced. Silence yourself. Gain perspective.
- Leave a legacy of good. You will live for a finite number of years, just like the rest of us. What do you want your legacy to be? If you have religion, what would that religion tell you to do? What defines you? What kind of world will you leave behind? Gain purpose.
- Stand up for yourself. Make a difference. Have conversations with people. Challenge conventional thinking. Challenge authority. Don’t do anything just because that’s the way it has always been done. Think of creative solutions in your life. Practice what you preach. You have a voice so long as you are on this side of the horizon. Use that voice. Be courageous.
- Have fun. The world is a wondrously diverse place. Work to keep it that way. There is a goodness in humanity that allows us to overcome any obstacle even when the dawn is darkest. Work in concert with nature and rejoice in how wonderful life really is. Be kind, compassionate and fair to your fellow man and future generations. Smile, laugh and stop worshiping man-made ideals of what life should be. Celebrate.
You control your life. You have a voice. Have the courage to recognize that. Have the courage to stand up for yourself and for those who can not.
We need to care. It needs to be important to us for things to change. The answers aren’t in science or technology.
The answers lie within each one of us.