#22: Healthy Communities Face Facts

Inconvenient Realities

Sit down Virginia. I have some unsettling news for you. What I have to say may cause you some distress, but you are old enough to know some facts of life.

Contrary to what politicians, bureaucrats, and corporate leaders have been telling you…there is no Environmental Santa Claus. You have been fed a web of delusion for some decades now, about how, even if those annoying radical “environmentalists” might have been right all along, the solution to the climate crisis was just around the corner. Re-cycling, smart light bulbs, and carbon capture, and wave power were going to save us.

They didn’t. They won’t. All along, powerful forces have tried to convince us that we can consume our way out of this crisis.

I can’t really blame you for missing the obvious signs, considering the constant, well financed, self-serving and fraudulent attempts to get you to turn a blind eye to evidence.

So here are a few truths that might be hard to swallow, and are more than just inconvenient – to many of us.

You are to blame. We are all to blame. Each aspect of that blame can be calculated on a sliding scale.

For instance – do you drive a car?  Most of us do, but some of us drive energy hogs, some of us commute long distances to work, many of us use a car when we could easily walk or bike.  Cars are a big part of the emission problem.  The fun part is seeing how twisted the justifications for excessive car use can become.

Do you reside in a house or apartment? Most of us do.  But does your house have more that 200 square metres of living space? We all want nice things, but don’t fool yourself into thinking that nice things come without an environmental price. And please don’t embarrass yourself by insisting that you need those extra rooms. No one needs them – you want them.  Have you made any effort to make the heating and cooling of your home sustainable?

Housing is a giant contributor to climate change – are you willing to assess your contribution?.

Do you travel by airplane? Did you need to? Honestly? Of course we all want to see the world and visit friends and relatives. But let’s not plead necessity where none exists. These are choices. 

Do you eat meat? So do I. Not as much beef as I used to. Once again these are choices and each choice needs to be evaluated.

Do you buy much stuff that comes from far away? This is tricky, because it’s complicated. Some things we don’t grow here, and some things we don’t make near home.  But the bottom line is that we need to think about the transportation involved as well as the health and welfare of the people making the cheap shirts and growing the cheap coffee. By buying most our manufactured goods from Asia we are off-loading the environmental cost to that part of the world, and helping to destroy the ocean while we’re at it.

So those are the big ticket items: transportation, travel, housing, and food. We should know by now that we have to change what and how we consume. Our dismal failure to avert disaster should tell us that. The good news is we don’t have to give up everything, but we have to make responsible choices. The bad news is that without leadership and truth from our governments, individual actions won’t solve the problem either. So in a way Step 1 is realizing that we can’t continue to consume as we have in the past, and step 2 is electing governments which will take the problem seriously and help us do the right things. Did you vote for a political party that allowed this to happen? Do you trust them to fix it? Did you ask them to fix it?

And just to add some specifics let’s continue with some more targeted questions.

Do you have a lawn? Do you water it excessively? Do you use gasoline-powered tools to mend it and annoy your neighbours? Lawn care is a huge part of emissions and waste.

Do you choose to use gasoline-powered recreational toys such as jet-skis, ATV’s and snowmobiles.  Bad for you – bad for the earth. Can you walk? Are you physically capable of hiking, skiing or paddling?  Of course there are extenuating circumstances. If I lost the use of my legs I might consider a powered mode of getting around.  What’s your excuse?

Do you have a spare home that you drive around? Large RV’s are the opposite of earth-friendly holidays. And they are clearly a choice rather than any kind of a necessity.

I could go on – but these things I’m listing are not news. There are two types of people who are doing a lot of damage to the earth – those who don’t know and those who don’t care.  A subset of the “don’t know” group is the “pretending not to know” group.  I think that may be the heart of the matter.