I just read an email which forwarded Sharon's post from her blog: http://casaubonsbook.blogspot.com/ called "Time to Face Ugly Reality." I recommend reading it!
Her post was very sobering. It directed me to a review of George Monbiot's new book called "Heat" which picks up where Al Gore left off on global warming. Heat offers real solutions without sugar-coating the large personal sacrifices they will require.
Gore and Monbiot both believe that the window of opportunity to make changes is very small -- less than 30 years. Gore made some small and easy recommendations at the end of his movie -- turning down the thermostat, driving less, changing light bulbs. Is it enough? Monibot doesn't think so.
Monbiot reluctantly concludes, "(T)here is simply no way of tackling this issue other than reducing the number, length and speed of the journeys we make." Knowing the audience for whom the book is intended, he acerbically adds, this will mean the end of "shopping trips to New York, political meetings in Porto Alegre, long distance vacations."
Monbiot sums up his findings, "I have sought to demonstrate that the necessary reduction in carbon emissions is -- if difficult -- technically and economically possible. I have not demonstrated that it is politically possible."
Is it politically possible? The last paragraph of Heat is not hopeful. "(T)he campaign against climate change is an odd one. Unlike almost all the public protests which have preceded it, it is a campaign not for abundance but for austerity. It is a campaign not for more freedom but for less. Strangest of all, it is a campaign not just against other people, but also against ourselves."
He shows us that most of the rhetoric we hear about greenhouse gas reduction is way off the mark. Two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels is the temperature level beyond which major ecosystems begin to collapse, and in order to prevent this from happening, rich nations must cut their greenhouse gasses by 90 percent or more by the year 2030.
I think that Monibot has made some very sobering but important conclusions. Gore did a great job of getting us to recognize the frightening facts of global warming and has given us very easy first steps. However, these are not solutions - they are very small steps to take. What they do well is introduce the topic of global warming in an accessible fashion. Everyone can change a lightbulb. It provides baby steps to help change the American mindset. What Monibot suggests is much more difficult -- we have to be willing to give up a lot. We have to be willing to travel less, consolidate trips, car pool, consume fewer products, eat locally, and eat less meat. We need to make drastic changes in how we choose to live.
According to a new report published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the livestock sector generates more greenhouse gas emissions as measured in CO2 equivalent – 18 percent – than transport. It is also a major source of land and water degradation."It made me realize what other changes I need to make. I am not doing enough. As a teacher, I realize how important education is. I want to educate others and provide methods for people to share and learn from one another. This last week I started a new email group (Sustainable Urban Living: UrbanSustainable@yahoogroups.com), as I realize how many of us want to learn to live sustain ably in our urban environment. I have contacted the campus about starting an educational movie series "Movies that Matter" in the hope to educate the community and follow with conversation. There are so many other things that could be done. I need to think about it.
That release is at http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2006/1000448/index.html
What you eat -- meat vs. veggies -- could have more impact on global warming (at least in the short term) than how much you drive.
Today I cut off my hair. It was weighing me down - literally and figuratively. I have/had very thick long curly hair. It is nearly impossible to wash. Simply getting fingers through the mass was difficult. It also took such huge amounts of conditioner and energy (warm water) to care for. I cut off over a foot. I also decided to no longer color my hair. Yes, I may have some premature gray hairs, but I will accept those rather than add the cost to the environment. I also told my stylist to watch An Inconvenient Truth. She had never heard of it.
As Sharon stated in her posting "Time to Face Ugly Reality," we truly need to make an 80% reduction in what we do and consume so that our children have a habitable planet. We do not own the earth we borrow the land from our children.