(HOST) Commentator Susan Cooke Kittredge has been thinking that some challenges are so big that meeting them still requires action that is both individual and collective.
(KITTREDGE) As spring flirts with our eager spirits, it’s sobering to realize that we’re still deep in Lent. Lent starts 40 days before Easter, which this year is April 24, almost as late as possible. Easter is dictated by a formula established in 325 AD at the Council of Nicaea which states that it shall fall on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox.
Whether you observe Lent rigorously, in a haphazard fashion, or not at all, recent international events have brought many of us to our knees. Even before the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis hit Japan, it seemed that countries in the Middle East were being driven by enormous waves of hope, protest, despair and anger.
This year I signed up for a Lenten Carbon Fast, cutting back not on chocolate – gracious, no! – but on my own carbon footprint. The New England Regional Environmental Ministries shoots me an email early each morning with a suggestion for the day: turn off one lamp for the duration of the fast; build a compost bin, watch closely what food you throw away as the food discarded annually by an average household adds the equivalent CO2 emissions of 1-5 cars. The suggestions are pretty easy to do and this is both good and bad. Because while I turn off a light, lower the thermostat, heat the stir-fry yet again, the tsunami of global warming continues to rise before us.
Most people now accept that our consumptive lifestyles have created environmental, political and social climates that are simply out of control.
So it seems imperative for the future of our planet and those who will live here after us that each of us reduces our use of fossil fuels. But it may take more drastic action than a Carbon fast.
We know that civil disobedience and resistance can be very effective – witness Egypt – but we know also that they can be drowned by power and money – just look at Libya. Though the insurgents made great strides, alone they may be no match for Muammar el Qaddafi’s machine. They may prevail, however, with the help of allied forces.
One of the basic tenets of the fight against global warming is that we consume less, reduce our dependency on fossil fuels, eat, live and act locally and lower our carbon emissions in any way we can – but I believe that individual action by itself just can’t get the job done.
It is time for organized and legislated actions that support renewable sources of energy, substantially reduce both our overall energy consumption and our use of fossil fuels. Gov. Shumlin’s call for a comprehensive energy plan comes none too soon, because simply doing less will not suffice. Sitting in our dimly lit, cool houses, munching local, organic food and riding our bikes to work will certainly help but not enough.
Our planet is quaking and we disregard the tsunami of global warming at our grandchildren’s peril.
(TAG) You can find more commentaries by Susan Cooke Kittredge at VPR-dot-net.