Friday, January 27, 2012

It's not easy being green

Fond memories from Kermit the Frog as he sang about the difficulties associated with being green.  Today, green has become the focus for a significant segment of society, of government, of international relations, and of personal choice.

And Kermit was right; it's not easy.

The transition from limitless resources and a planet that would swallow up any mess we made happened when I was young.  I remember the discovery of floating trash in the middle of the ocean.

Kon Tiki made us aware that the ocean was more than a space filler.  Jacques Cousteau opened the realms below the surface for us.  Changes in our collective thinking took decades.

Young folks adapt more quickly.  My daughter began to turn green around the 6th grade.  She began considering seriously the way humanity treats the planet and its living components.  Her musings required us to think through them with her.  She adapted more quickly than I, skipping a lot of steps I had to wade through slowly.  Years later, she married a green fellow; they make an impressive pair.

The issue is polarizing, of course, as are most choices between self-gratification and the alternatives.  If we DO anything about it, it's going to cost something and be inconvenient.

There are opponents and strong resistance.  We still have those among us who don't believe climate is changing or that pollution is a problem, and they fight against changing industrial standards for protecting the planet.

There may be some who are a bit overboard on the green side as well.

Of course, either way things are going to change.  That world that would swallow up all the messes we make is gone.  We've changed the chemistry of the atmosphere, of the oceans, even of the ground water.  We've driven some species to extinction, we've depleted others by over fishing, we've genetically engineered major changes into the world's biomass.  We've neglected to note the impact of our resource consumption on the forests and savannahs of the world.  We think there's still plenty of 'jungle' somewhere in Africa, not understanding that it was always a myth.

Things will indeed change.  A good opportunity to be proactive?  Absolutely.
She and her family produce enough to feed themselves
with some left over to sell.  Their garden is about
400 feet square.  Okra, corn, cassava, tomatoes, beans.
What comes first?  Read.  A lot.  All that stuff you blew off when it first came up, go read that with an objective willingness to learn how to live differently.

Green cares, by the way.  There are a fascinating list of peripheral issues that float to the top when you care about such things.

What comes second?
How far off the path are you willing to go?

  • Short steps?  A car that gets better gas mileage and LED light bulbs for the house?
  • Medium steps?  Plant a serious garden and produce 30% of what you eat yourself?
  • Go for broke?  Go, sell all you have, and start over from scratch!  OK, that's scary.