Thomas L. Friedman, a columnist for The New York Times, recently wrote an article aptly titled, “Live Bad, Go Green.” In his op/ed piece, the award-winning columnist addressed the growing “light green” movement that has become sexy in the public eye and astutely commented that “people often refer to the current climate buzz as ‘a green revolution,’ but the very term revolution suggests a fundamental break with past habits, attitudes and public policies.” I am often reluctant to refer to the interest I observe making appearances in the mainstream mind as a revolution, specifically because the public is not forced to sacrifice in order to feel good about their [generally] occasional eco-friendly efforts.
But I am not a pessimist, so I do see value in the end result of even the smallest efforts on all of our parts. In fact, I would not have appreciated the message behind last weekend’s Live Earth: Concerts for a Climate in Crisis event if I did not sincerely believe that each contribution towards a more ecologically-sensitive footprint holds value. One of my basic guiding principles — as a young person with a daunting aim to integrate responsible decision-making into all aspects of my life — is built upon the belief that each person has some valuable gift or insight to contribute to his/her surroundings, and, as a result, should feel compelled to improve our general welfare. Are we accountable to future generations? Are the bodies that govern the public accountable as well? What are we doing to demonstrate that we take our duties seriously?
“Volunteerism doesn’t work. I’ve said this about 85,000 times. It’s about as effective as voluntary speed limits. No cops, no judges: road carnage. No rules, no fines: greenhouse gases. We’re going to triple or quadruple the CO2 in the atmosphere with no policy. I don’t believe offsets are just a distraction. But we’ll have failed if that’s all we do.”
Stephen Schneider, climatologist at Stanford University (taken from Katherine Ellison’s “Shopping for carbon credits” on Salon.com)
Aside from the power we possess as consumers, have we sustained commitment to the conclusions made and goals established by those who have pursued environmental solutions for our future and for that of our posterity? Have we opened up the discussion about sustainable materials, methods, design and development to those who may have alternative insights and made the movement accessible? I am looking forward to the point at which we instinctively use the influence we wield in our lives to encourage each other . . . to learn more about the most innovative and sustainable best practices in our given industries and, ideally, those areas in which we each thrive.
Image from AchieveGreen.com