On Blog Action Day — Are You Here to Help?

I write about the environment a lot. Mostly, it’s because I have a lot to say about environmental issues.

Sometimes it’s because I’m scared. Not really scared like the apocalypse is coming, although I wonder about that sometimes. It’s more like we’re all about to graduate from high school and we’re faced with the decision of what to do with the rest of our lives.

Regardless of your stance on the issue of climate change, I think that it’s pretty apparent that we can’t go on living the way we are now. There’s not enough oil in the ground, or trees or water either.

It’s just like in high school when the final bell rang and the doors closed behind us for the last time. We always knew that there were real problems and responsibilities out there. It’s just that now we were out there with them.

Like any graduate, we’ve got some decisions to make about the rest of our lives. Of course, any time you throw “decision” in with “rest of our lives” it means you’re talking about something relatively serious. I’m pretty certain that the future of the human race qualifies. When we’re talking about “environmental issues” we’re talking about nothing less. And that’s enough to scare me.

Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day

When I talk about taking responsibility for our future, there is an illustration that I like to use. I’ve stated this in several ways on my own blog and have even found a fantastic video on YouTube that goes over the concept quite well. It works like this. In the end, we have only four options:

  1. We become stewards of our environment only to find that everything would have worked out just fine regardless. We spend a lot of money needlessly, but no one is really hurt by it.
  2. We become stewards of our environment, spend a ton of money and make sweeping changes across nearly every industry, and find that we just barely miss the tipping point of environmental collapse.
  3. We keep doing what we’re doing and hope that nothing bad happens, and we get lucky because it doesn’t. We spend nothing, change nothing, and die leaving the mess for someone else to clean up.
  4. We spend nothing, do nothing, and watch our planetary ecosystem collapse, taking our economic, political, and eventually our social systems down with it. No food, no medicine, and no government to protect us.

I like this illustration because it shows so clearly that it doesn’t matter what we think of the whole global warming thing. Instead, what matters is that we take responsibility for the environment we live in and depend on. I’d rather take some responsibility and switch out a few light bulbs for CFL’s than deal with the whole apocalypse thing from option four. (I think I mentioned that the apocalypse scares me.)

When we begin to look at our responsibility to the environment, we realize that “environment” is just a code word. It means something broader than recycling your newspaper. Do somebody’s shopping. Or fix a child’s bicycle. No one says you have to be Super Biodegradable Boy or Mega Organic Girl to fend off the apocalypse. Making the world a better place is about doing what we can. What’s important is that we do it.

There’s a television show that I like called Ghost Hunters. It’s about a team of paranormal investigators. (Yes, I’m a geek.) One thing I’m always impressed with is how they introduce themselves. When they meet a client for the first time, as they shake hands, one investigator says, “Hi, we’re TAPS.” (TAPS is the name of their organization.) This is always followed by, “We’re here to help.” This is such a perfect example of the sort of responsibility we need to take for the world around us.

Our world won’t function like it has in the past for very much longer. We can’t afford the consequences of not acting. Perhaps it’s time we start prefacing the decisions we make with, “We’re here to help.”

On Blog Action Day, it’s time to ask yourself as well: “Am I here to help?”

Let’s hope we are.

Mathew Murphy brings us Tech Tuesday each week. Matt blogs on technology, the environment and tea on his website at http://mattscuppa.wordpress.com.

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13 thoughts on “On Blog Action Day — Are You Here to Help?

  1. For option (1): “We spend a lot of money needlessly, but no one is really hurt by it.” – I guess you never took economics in school. If you spend money on X, you cannot spend the same money on Y.

    For (2): “find that we just barely miss the tipping point of environmental collapse”…and we know this because…???

    (3) is pretty much the default mode for every human that ever lived.

    (4) again, is rife with assumption like (1) and (2).

    At the end of the day, a little picture and post on your blog will not change the world, or even people’s minds.

    “There’s a television show that I like called Ghost Hunters. It’s about a team of paranormal investigators. (Yes, I’m a geek.) One thing I’m always impressed with is how they introduce themselves. When they meet a client for the first time, as they shake hands, one investigator says, “Hi, we’re TAPS.” (TAPS is the name of their organization.) This is always followed by, “We’re here to help.” This is such a perfect example of the sort of responsibility we need to take for the world around us.”

    ha ha ha “ghost hunters”. You should turn in your geek pass if you believe in this paranormal mumbo jumbo. Get a nice new age crystal or something. “We’re here to help… relieve the gullible of their money” is more like it.

  2. I know what you feel like. We have destroyed this planet :(
    And with people like these:
    It isn’t pollution that is hurting the environment, it’s the impurities in our air and water that are doing it.
    - Dan Quayle
    One can hardly be surprised!

  3. Something about the word ‘action’ seems to be triggering lots of active energy in lots of us . . . myself included. There is this sense that writing is just not good enough anymore. It is now time to walk the talk.

    In honor of Blog Action Day, I just started this new section in my blog, called Blogacts, for blogging + activism. I would like to invite you to be a guest blogger on my blog, and write about one of your blog acts, something you did or are planning to do, involving both writing in your blog, and following up with some kind of activist gesture in your community. Of course, I would link the post back to your site!

    let me know if that is something you would like to do, I would certainly feel honored if you did.

    marguerite
    http://lamarguerite.wordpress.com

  4. I grew up in Northern California and you’d be surprised how often the message that you are telling us today was drilled into my head. So much so that I’ve gotten in serious fights with people who leave the water on while brushing their teeth. I don’t care what people say, it’s everything that counts when it comes to the environment, even the little things. I hope that everyone takes the “action” portion of environmental action day to heart as it seems you have. I’m working for a coalition right now that wants to keep the energy bill that is on the table in Congress right now at the right standards. This bill as is calls for 15% renewable electricity standards, and 35 mpg fuel economy standards by 2020. Just imagine what a real impact that could have. Help us keep these standards in the final bill by signing the petition at http://www.energybill2007.org.

  5. What is the REAL Inconvenient truth? What action would take enormous courage, collective citizen will and the willingness to study the subject?

    How about addressing the moral and spiritual challenge of man-made economic system? The obvious truth is our so called democratic governments are not representing the people, they are doing the bidding of man-made institutions like central banks, corporations and financial markets dominated by few elites and entangled big boys networks.

    There are far more critical and urgent man-made problems (which are actually responsible for climate change) that need our attention. The most critical is the man-made economic system falsely labeled free-market Capitalism based on an unsustainable debt-based usury based and fractional reserve based colonial money paradigm built on greed and artificial scarcity of currency maintained by centralized commercial banking system.

    http://conscious-capitalism.blogspot.com

    We cannot ignore the dimension of growing human suffering, war, injustice and inequality of access, opportunity and wealth distribution this man-made economic system is generating. The entire hierarchical elitist patriarchal powerbase and devaluation and marginalization of women and other minorities is build upon this debt-based usurious currency system. Socially engaged citizens of the world need to unite and address these issues that would not be addressed by mainstream media, academia or politics. A sustainable and equitable currency system designed by the people for the people would secure democracy and peace for us and our children and all life forms. Citizen journalism and conscious action can turn the table with a dancing revolution of joy and freedom that the world is ready to know. Browse some links on side-bar.

    Cheers

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  7. Thoughtful article.

    I think that what worries many of us is that society and communities are not set up to make it fully practical to protect the environment. If one goes to a supermarket, most products are heavily wrapped in plastic, or even in metal and glass produced with much energy, and the food travels far (I limit myself to USA products now, although who knows about some ingredients – but even that is too far).

    How can one get around without driving, when there is limited public transportation? Energy generation, heat, manufacturing – these continue on as before and account for a significant share of the problem of global warming. And underlying all this, even if we cut back, the population of the world keeps growing, most people continue on, oblivious, and it is not clear we as individuals can do enough.

    My point is that we need new laws from our USA government, and worldwide we need massive awareness and action to begin. I feel as if I am holding my breath, waiting to see the mass of society begin first to get worried, and then to begin taking seriously what they do personally and who they vote for in elections.

    People have a general idea of global warming now, and not much more. Little has changed in the USA with laws or with actions. And peak oil (energy supply) and resource issues (food, water) are even less in most peoples’ radar. Unless things move quickly in terms of awareness and mandatory provisions such as those during World War II, we will have a stripped-down, overheated planet crowded with… well, you know. We may have already passed a tipping point of global heating, and who knows how long oil and gasoline will be easily available and affordable.

    That is sense of why we all feel this background level of concern. That is why we write and preach mostly to the choir. And, unfortunately, it is hard to think of much more to do, other than watch this slow-motion study in world sociology play itself out, while we each do the essential but relatively small amount that we can do.

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