The 40th Earth Day comes next week and, sigh, while globally there has been progress on many fronts (Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, reduce CFC emissions, etc), the reality is that the earth (our living space) is under ever greater stress, on ever more fronts, almost literally with every passing moment. Thus, the concept that we magically put aside one day, one moment to dedicate some time (some minutes) to doing something to reduce our heavy footprint on the Earth which will magically compensate for 364 days of unrelenting consumerism and unthinking damage seems absurd. Yet, Earth Day does provide a chance to bring visibility to the challenges we face and the opportunities we have to mitigate those challenges — and, even, gain from embracing solutions to challenges. President Barack Obama is challenging Americans “to take action to change our nation’s energy and environmental future.”
As we continue to tackle our environmental challenges, it’s clear that change won’t come from Washington alone. It will come from Americans across the country who take steps in their own homes and their own communities to make that change happen.
President Obama on the first Earth Day When it comes to Earth Day, well, I will be at work and, as per every work day, I will try to minimize electricity use, rescue that random aluminum can from a trash can, even as I might do ‘something special’. President Obama will also be at work, as he is every day of the year. And, his work will almost certainly include ‘something special’. As for me, I think that there are two ‘special’ actions that could help communicate.
- First, work in the White House garden with his wife and children. The White House garden has helped to spark a growth in home gardening around the nation. Those gardens have huge potential values for individuals, communities, and beyond from reducing our oil dependencies (reduced food miles translating into lower oil use in transport) to reducing our bellies (via filling them with better food and the physical exercise in the garden) to …
- Second, take the time to participate in a real home energy audit — trailing an auditor as they go through a home and sitting there, with a few selected reporters, as the auditor walks through the results with a home owner, highlighting how they could save $10s-$100s a year with a few dollars and few hours investment in caulking leaks and how they might save $1000s / year with additional insulation and more efficient systems. And, then, have available outside the home experts from outside the government prepared to talk to financial benefits from the government to help take these Energy Smart actions.
The President has the podium — these two actions, imo, would be more effective in communicating practical opportunities for individual action than standing behind a podium for a speech. A chance to share As is the wont with the Obama White House, the Earth Day webpage provides a chance to ‘share
What are you doing to help protect our environment and keep your community healthy? Whether you’re cleaning up a local park, weatherizing your home, or riding your bike to work, tell us what you’re doing to go green.
My shot at sharing:
While I try to embed Energy Smart practices throughout my life from the personal to professional, perhaps the most important are my efforts to communicate to assist others in understanding that ‘Energy Smart’ practices are just smart. For example, when I visit someone’s home for dinner, I have a bottle of wine in one hand and a compact flourescent bulb in the other. At one dinner party, that CFL led to a conversation with some 25 people where I had a chance to explain in detail how the CFLs might cost more to buy but that they cost far less to own. In my community, the extra cost in buying that CFL is paid back in a few months — and the savings go on for years. Over the following weeks/months, I heard back from five present about how that conversation sparked them to buy CFLs and how they saw a drop in their electricity bills. Notably, two of those five are ‘climate skeptics’ — they chose to do that Energy Smart action because they are saving money. Whether from the individual to the community to the nation to the community of nations and peoples, we face quite serious challenges — but those challenges create opportunities.
NOTE: Several related discussions to note: