Today scientists announced in France that yes, global warming really is caused by humans.
Take that, global warming deniers!
Speaking of denial....
The Sunday night crew watched Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth this week. (That man could use some yoga, by the way)
Most of us alternated between nodding and cringing during the viewing.
But apparently one of us nodded off. When it was over, this person said,
"Yeah, but only three percent of that is caused by humans."
Since he's an SUV-loathing recycler, we let him off easy and suggested he'd slept through the statistics.
What I don't get is the people who deny it and don't want any action to be taken.
Does that mean they're *for* pollution?
Who could possibly be pro-pollution?
Oh, that's right; the people who stand to lose something -- profits, an easy life, their current business -- that's who.
But most of those people are pretty mainstream.
Most of them have kids.
Maybe they should have thought twice about that.
As Alice Walker writes in her book of essays, We Are the Ones We're Waiting For: Light in a Time of Darkness: Meditations,
"I believe there should be a moratorium on the birth of children. That not one more child should be born on this planet until certain conditions are met."
She goes on to talk about missing plutonium, cancer, etc.
Anyway, after seeing the Al Gore movie everyone (even Mr. Three Percent) wanted to do something -- anything -- to reduce their carbon footprint.
Many others must also feel that way.
So below I've pasted an article I wrote on the subject last January -- before Al's movie came out, thankyouverymuch. It's somewhat Chicago-specific but most of the info is universal.
And now I'll get off my annoying little soapbox. My next post is gonna be about f-cking FOOTBALL, dammit.
Photo by Dreyfus (c) 2007
By Caca Caca Navel Orange
“Take from the Earth only what you need. The Mother Earth will then be able to serve and support living creatures longer.”
--Lord Mahavir Jina, the 24th and last Tirthankara (great preacher, or guide) of the Jain religion
We all heard the horrifying statistics: America is using more than six times its share of the earth’s resources. The U.S. is the home to just 4.6 percent of the world’s population, yet consumes 25 percent of its crude oil. Even the government is finally starting to admit that there’s an oil crisis. In the meantime, the air, earth and water are getting dirtier, landfills are expanding and the polar ice caps are melting.
It can seem overwhelming. But there are plenty of small things you can to do to practice green yoga off the mat. After all, the first of Patanjali’s eight limbs of yoga is the niyamas, or the practice of self-restraint. The first niyama is ahimsa (non-harming), which doesn’t just mean being nice to other people in yoga class. In addition to denoting the cultivation of compassion and loving kindness, ahimsa has also been defined as “not blocking or obstructing the flow of nature.”
Besides, you can’t have good health (and, by extension, perfect alignment) without clean air, clean food and clean water.
On the mat
Cut down on yoga-related landfill--which is very bad karma indeed--by investing in a natural rubber or high-quality yoga mat that won’t have to be replaced in a year’s time. Purchase blocks made of renewable bamboo or cork and, if you can afford it, wear organic cotton or hemp yoga clothes. If you’re building a yoga studio, use bamboo or reclaimed timber for the floors and try to make it a green business. (Chicago's YogaNow Gold Coast is the city's first green studio). Learn more by going to www.greenyoga.org, www.greenbiz.com or www.sustainablebusiness.com. Get bike racks installed in front of your Chicago studio by calling the city at 312.742.2453.
Notice how much time you spend in the car, and try to reduce it. Consider living close to work--or, better yet, work at home (for example, I try to do most of my teaching on the north side). Exchange the gas-guzzling SUV for a compact or hybrid car, and don’t drive it unless you have to. Carpool, and consolidate your trips. Go to the grocery store once a week instead of every other day. Take public transportation whenever you can.
If you rarely use your car, consider getting rid of it altogether, or look into sharing a car. The local nonprofit car-sharing service I-Go lets members reserve a community car ahead of time and pay per each use. They've recently expanded into more neighborhoods and have added hybrid cars to their fleet (see igocars.org, or call 773.278.4800, ext. 227). You can find others with whom to share rides and gas costs via Freewheelers, an online database for people offering or requesting lifts. eRideshare.com offers a similar service.
Ask yourself if you can walk or bike to where you need to go. With its flat surfaces and myriad bike lanes and bike racks, the city of Chicago is one of the nation’s most bike-friendly cities. (For a map of bike lanes, contact the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation at 312.427.3325, or visit chibikefed.org). Buying used items is another way to reduce oil dependence, and you can find a good selection of pre-owned bicycles at Uptown Bikes (4653 N. Broadway, 773.728.5212) and Blackstone Bikeworks (6100 S. Blackstone, but call ahead before stopping by: 773.425.2011). Installing a rack on your two-wheeler will make it convenient to transport your groceries, yoga mat and other items, and adding baskets makes it even easier. It's possible to cycle all year round if you dress properly; to learn how, visit Chicago Bike Winter.
Close to home
In aurveda it’s said that it is more important to eliminate than accumulate--and that includes the external environment. Do you live in a place that’s too big for you? Then you’re using more resources than necessary to heat, cool and run your home. Or, as the Sustainability Institute puts it, “You’re not a bigger person if you own a bigger house; you’re just a bigger polluter.” Consider adding solar panels to your home. Wherever you live, make sure you’re using energy-efficient appliances and lights. The biggest energy suckers are refrigerators, followed by lights, TVs, electric dryers and ovens. Use fluorescent lights--and turn them off when you leave the room. If you use an air conditioner, invest in a newer, more energy efficient model--and turn it off when you’re not home. In winter, turn down the heat at night and make sure your place is properly insulated. Notice how many electrical appliances you have (when was the last time you used that bread maker, anyway?) and consider giving some of them away.
Compost your leftover food items (see www.wormsway.com) and use it to fertilize the garden. Landscape your home with a natural prairie garden (see Minnesota-based Prairie Restorations, Inc. or call 763.389.4342).
Invest in rechargeable batteries or solar-powered appliances such as radios and calculators. Put up a clothesline and use it. Are your closets bursting with clothes you never wear? Take them to a charity or the thrift store where they’ll find a new home, or arrange a clothes swap with friends. Save water by taking shorter showers, and flush less often while remembering the old adage, “If it’s yellow let it mellow--if it’s brown, flush it down.”
Newspapers will naturally biodegrade in the open air. But when placed in a landfill, they’ll barely decompose because the bacteria needed for the process can’t live without air. That’s just one more reason why it’s important to divert as much waste as possible from landfills by reusing, recycling and composting.
The jury is still out on the paper vs. plastic debate. It’s easier to avoid the question altogether by bringing a cotton or mesh shopping bag to the store with you. I keep one in my car and one in my purse. Any bag will do, although I’m a fan of a roomy nylon bag that folds into a tiny pouch, purchased at The Container Store. It also carries biodegradable dog-poop bags. By far the best selection of green bags -- including a recycled messenger bag with solar panels -- can be found at Chicago-based Reusablebags.com. It also sells the infamous bag-snagger and serves as a clearninghouse for green-related issues.
If you forget your bag, keep in mind that stores such as Dominick’s and Whole Foods offer blue plastic bags that can be re-used for recycling via Chicago's Blue Bag recycling program.
If you don’t trust the city’s Blue Bag program--which reportedly allows some 30 percent of residential waste to circumvent its sorting centers and go straight to landfills--you can bring it directly to a recycling center. For a list of drop-off centers click here. In Chicago, the Resource Center runs drop-off sites in Uptown, Lincoln Park, South Shore and North Park Village on the city’s northwest side. For hours and other details, call 773.821.1351.
Or you could start a recycling program for your building or workplace. I did this a few years ago by putting my landlord in touch with the nonprofit Resource Center; over 99 percent of what they collect is used to make new products, and they sell their material to local mills.
Buying recycled products increases the market for them, so when possible purchase recycled paper towels, toilet paper, computer paper, plastic bags and other goods. Consider repairing something versus replacing it. Buy used items whenever possible, or share appliances with friends and neighbors. And always try to purchase environmentally friendly products. Winnetka-based Earth Friendly Products offers an extensive line of cruelty-free, eco-friendly cleaning products, which are available at most health food stores (the company is also a winner of the 2003 Socially Responsible Business Award). Fair trade or union-made items are always a more responsible choice, and if you must decide between something made abroad and something made in the US, buy the domestic product.
Try to reduce your consumption of meat, which has a far higher ecological cost than fruit, grains and vegetables (not to mention the fact that ahimsa also applies to animals). Buy organic when you can--it reduces water pollution and the prevalence of pesticides both on the ground and in your body. Buy local whenever possible, via a farmer’s market or coop. Better yet, grow your own or start a community garden.
Waste fewer paper coffee cups and holders by investing in a good travel mug or thermos. While you’re at it, buy a refillable water bottle and a water filter. Make your own lunch and snacks, and carry them in foil, wax paper or high-quality plastic food containers. Use cloth napkins instead of paper. When you purchase ice cream, get it in a cone, which is edible, rather than wasting a cup and spoon. When the same item comes in plastic, glass or metal containers, choose glass or metal. Reduce packaging by buying in bulk.
Purchasing locally produced products reduces transportation costs (and the use of fossil fuels), helps increase the local tax base and keeps profits and jobs in the area. I know that air travel is not very eco-friendly, but when I fly I choose Elk Grove Village-based United Airlines (and chew Wrigley’s gum once I’m on board). Many of my friends and yoga students work for UAL Corp., and I want to keep them employed. (I once considered buying a Dodge Neon because it was assembled in nearby Belvidere--until I found out how much they cost).
Although you may disagree with some (or all) of their policies, many locally based companies run charitable foundations. A partial list of local companies includes: Earth Friendly Products, Lifeway Foods, U.S. Cellular (whose spokesperson, Joan Cusack, lives in Chicago), Sara Lee, Crate and Barrel / CB2, Blommer’s Chocolates (their outlet store also sells an environmentally-friendly mulch made of cocoa shells; call 312.412.1336), Walgreen’s, Johnson Publishing, Quaker Oats, Hyatt, McDonald’s, Albert-Culver, Hartmarx, Azteca Foods, Paper Source, Kraft Foods, Motorola, Allstate Insurance, CDW Computer Centers, FTD.com, Playboy Enterprises, Standard Parking, Office Max. True Value, Ace Hardware, Solo Cup, Ulta Salon Cosmetics & Fragrance, Levy Restaurants, Lettuce Entertain You, Ferrara Pan, Harlem Furniture, Hammacher Schlemmer, NutraSweet, Butera Foods, Treasure Island Foods, National Van Lines, Mark Shale, Kemper Insurance, Sam’s Wines & Spirits, Mary Miglin LP, Edward Don, Shure, Brunswick, Spiegel, Wickes, Salton, Female Heath (makers of female condoms), Tootsie Roll, Whitehall Jewelers and Midas.
Try to frequent local, independently owned stores. Although it’s easier to buy a book online or at a chain store, making the extra effort to shop at an independent bookstore such as Women & Children First supports both the local economy and quality of life (although when it comes to books you can reduce consumption and save a lot of money by borrowing from the library or a friend). I always try to cover at least half of my health food needs at the few remaining locally-owned health food stores that weren’t wiped out when the chain stores came to town.
The first step
Simply discussing or thinking about how your actions impact the earth is part of the yogic process of going beyond samsara (conditioned existence) and towards mukti (liberation). And if you incorporate just one or two things into your daily routine, you’ve begun to change the world. For more information, contact:
Chicago Recycling Coalition
Green Yoga Association
The Green Home Environmental Store
One obvious way to reduce landfill is to cut down on buying new consumer goods. I try to avoid spending money at least one day a week and have found that the practice really makes me think about the way I spend. Or you could run through the following checklist each time you consider making a non-essential purchase. A Seattle group promoting Buy Nothing Day, a grassroots action that takes place each year on the day after Thanksgiving, gave it to shoppers in 1997.
-Do I need it?
-How many do I already have?
-How much will I use it?
-How long will it last?
-Could I borrow it from a friend or family member?
-Can I do without it?
-Am I able to clean, lubricate and/or maintain it myself?
-Am I willing to?
-Will I be able to repair it?
-Have I researched it to get the best quality for the best price?
-How will I dispose of it when I'm done using it?
-Are the resources that went into it renewable or non-renewable?
-Is it made of recycled materials, and is it recyclable?
-Is there anything that I already own that I could substitute for it?
For more on BND, go to AdBusters
From Syracuse Cultural Workers:
How to End Global Warming
Get excited about an energy revolution
Visualize our Earth from space. Know that it is fragile.
Make your home energy efficient
Don’t drive unless you have to
Walk more, cycle more, skate more
Switch to energy efficient appliances (efficient = a star)
Turn off lights when you leave a room
Install solar panels…they work
Build political will for local change
Demand better mass transit
Use buses, trains and trams
Avoid fast foods; eat less meat
Share what you have; buy less stuff
Reuse before you recycle
Dig up the concrete
Plant trees; save forests
Buy eco-certified or re-used timber
Put your hot water heater on a timer
Eat locally grown organic food
Don’t fly unless you have to
Support climate-friendly politicians
Support neighborhood businesses
Take pride in being resourceful
Put on a sweater
Turn off the air conditioner
Buy tree-free or post-consumer paper
Use a clothesline instead of a dryer
Dream of a solar-hydrogen economy
Close down coal-burning power plants
Buy green energy
Find your voice
Don’t believe what the auto and oil companies say
Support the Kyoto Protocol
Demand strict emission controls and fuel efficiency on all vehicles
Kiss the carbon years goodbye
Our world will be whole and healed tomorrow if we pay attention today.
--Guy Dauncey/SCW community. ©2003. www.syrculturalworkers.com