Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Living 04

My friend, Tony Federer, just sent me an unpublished book that he wrote, which he has called "Ecoshift." The book is full of facts and references on the impacts of human population growth, development, and consumption on the planet. Interspersed are personal stories about how he has shifted his own life to reduce his impact on the earth.

It is one of those books, along with many stories seen regularly in newspapers and magazines, about declines in species, habitats, environmental health. Just this week stories included overfishing bluefin tuna with some restaurants refusing to drop it from their menu; natural gas exploration in the Catskills the source of New York City's water supply, population growth in developing countries, the list goes on.

The disconnect on these issues between politicians and others in power and the individuals and small groups that are pursuing a shift in how we live is vast. So vast, that it seems more than ever that change will only come from below. Even to discuss changes in our beliefs, behaviors, and ethics is ridiculed and dismissed by many. Paul Hawkins calls it "the movement without a name." Tony calls it "the movement that is transforming the relation of humanity to earth."

The public policy professor Robert Reich notes that the current economy will not recover or perhaps should not recover, because we need a new economy. Although he does not know what that new economy will be. It is hard to imagine a shift away from the current global economy. So, is "greening" of corporations enough to get us to a new economy, one that respects and is in balance with the ecological functions of the planet? This is hard to imagine too.

Sometimes you don't know if you are part of a movement. I hope those of us who care are part of a large movement, and maybe it is better to have a movement without a name. Words and names get corrupted by those in power.

So what to do. Like all animals we need food, water, shelter, and space. Where we get these things and how much we use of each is what one might call our "ecological footprint." The "ecoshift" that my friend speaks to in his book is about finding the right footprint. Everyone's will look different, but perhaps is within some range of reasonableness. I once was on a work-related field trip to a wood supplier who collected and sold all types of wood from throughout the world. He spoke proudly about extracting wood "sustainably" from Belize. Perhaps that was so, but we learned from him that the wood -- thousands of square feet -- was being used for a floor in a new, obviously huge, home in Colorado. This was beyond the range of reasonableness and common sense. I felt like I was the only one who saw the disconnect.

I am looking toward the new economy, one that each of us needs to help create. I'll see you there.

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