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Lovely day triggers rabid, environmentalist rant. How did that happen?

2007-10-22 - 11:57 a.m.

Itís hard for a Canadian such as myself Ė one who hates the cold Ė to become too het up over global warming: itís the 22nd of October today and the projected high is 24 degrees Celsius. Thatís 75 Fahrenheit for you Yanks reading this. Either way you slice it, that adds up to short-sleeve and sandal weather on a day of the year where it wouldnít be uncommon to have already had snow.

I kid, of course, to some degree: while Iíll always greet a warm day happily (except for maybe Christmas morning), I do, in fact think global warming is a scary, scary thing. (Warning, rant ahead!) And I even wonder how many more generations down the line it will be before climate change causes everyone to be scrabbling for their lives. Not as many as weíd like to think I bet.

No matter how smugly technologically advanced we think we are, another ice age or, swinging the other way, the frying of the Earthís surface will mean an end to civilization as we currently know it. I hope that the significantly-reduced population thatíll come out the other side will be wiser than this one. I hope there is a population left, for that matter. I used to say that the only way life will survive on Earth is for the people on it to kill themselves off and I hate to say it, but I think weíre on our way there. I certainly think the complacent waste-and-pollute-with-abandon mindset will have to change. I am utterly appalled at the number of people that wonít walk 5 steps out of their way to recycle a can if thereís a garbage bin within immediate reach.

And yes, I know Iím part of the problem. I may carry a pop can for miles to recycle it, but I am a contributing member of a society that is one of the biggest wasters of energy and biggest producers of pollution per capita on the planet. I drive my car to work (by myself, no carpooling) about half the time, when I could take the bus more often. I donít compost, or always turn off a light when I leave the room. I buy manufactured goods, and fruit that comes from thousands of miles away. I just, after all, moved to the suburbs and am, for the first time in years, no longer within walking distance of my work. My daughter owns plastic toys. You may say, ďArenít you living in a bit of a glass house there, bub?Ē

Possibly.

And yet, Iím tired of that sort of thing being an excuse to shut people up. Just because I live in a half-aware state, does that mean I shouldnít share what I do know and value with those that donít have that knowledge or perhaps donít know why they should care? When did it become obligatory to be perfect in order to teach something? If someone has knowledge that I donít have, I will happily learn from that person, even if they are not models in other areas of their lives. Maybe if we share the stuff we both know with each other, weíll both move towards being more aware and doing something about it. I do believe small things can make a difference if enough people do them.

I went to a talk given by an expert in world water politics and it was she who opened my eyes to the fact that water should not be sold in bottles in a society where the tap water is safe to drink. The environmental impact is too great (the chemicals and pollution involved in making the plastic bottles, the energy involved in making the bottles, bottling the water, and transporting it, and the energy/chemicals/landfill problems caused with dealing with collecting/processing/disposing of the bottles after theyíre empty), and tap water has stronger regulations on it anyway. Until I heard her speak I never even thought about the fact that people use potable drinking water here in North America to water their lawns or wash their driveways. We pee into water that is cleaner than is even available to drink in other countries. Seems kinda wrong somehow doesnít it?

Is this expert an environmental martyr, living in a yurt made of organic cotton? Does she eschew fossil-fuel-driven transportation? No, sheís a normal person who happens to have knowledge and convictions in a specific area.

So who am I to even write this post? Iím not even an expert in water, or climate change. But Iím a person who started out just wanting to let everyone know that itís a lovely warm day today, but ended up hoping that someone out there will read what ended up spilling onto my screen and think ďhunh, maybe Iíll stick with tap water when I can.Ē Iím a person with a kid who wants there to be an Earth for her to inherit.

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