October 30, 2007

shake and bake

Shake...
It was only 2.9 (my guess was 2.8 at the time), but the earthquake a few minutes ago shook my chair in my home office and gave the house a little "whump" as if one of the boys had ridden their bike into the garage door.

... and Bake
Last week I attended the BSR conference, one of the international conferences centered on the idea of corporate social responsibility (BSR actually stands for Business for Social Responsibility). I've attended many similar conferences recently, but BSR seemed to be very focused on climate, water, and environment issues with a little bit of labor practice thrown in. This was different from other conferences I've attended in that the others tend to be more focused on community development--workforce readiness, family financial stability, job growth, that kind of thing.

So it was with this heightened awareness of the challenges around the world (deforestation, population growth, water issues) that I received a link to this video from a friend. It articulates quite well what has been bothering me for some time: that the debate over whether global warming is caused by human activity is moot. As a species, we basically have a choice: Act to conserve resources and reduce pollution, or push forward with unfettered economic growth. Some would argue that we should not take action without proof positive that the costs are justified. That may be a good way to approach whether or not to add a new server to your network, but it is not a good way to approach the continued viability of the only world we have on which to live.

A few months ago, I read an op-ed in my local paper from an educated man who concluded that he would proudly drive his Hummer to Tahoe and back every weekend, leave his outdoor floodlights on even when no one was using them, throw plastic bottles in the regular trash, that kind of thing. Aggressive denial that his actions could possibly have any negative impact on the Earth. As if this arrogant selfishness somehow made him superior to people who recycle, who conserve, who care. Such an immature sense of immortality is unbecoming in an educated adult. And no, this was not Richard Pombo, though I have no doubt the op-ed writer voted for him. What steams me about Americans like this is that they view everything through the lens of Americans: We have abundance, we have riches, we have energy, we have water, we have forests and mountains and open, fertile, arable land. They fail to realize that the world's population is now more than 50% urban... that is, more than half the world's population is now living in cities. Vast cities. Crowded cities. Cities that are growing at an alarming rate around the globe--not only in size but in number. These Americans fail to realize that despite the growth of cities abroad, the United States produces a far higher percentage of the world's pollution than any developing country with many times the population.

But watch the video. It's 9:33, but it goes quickly. After watching it, let me know if you see any reason that conservation and environmental stewardship are not the better choice.

1 comment:

Gene said...

Great video...hard to argue with the logic.