USA : Forget the Fiscal Cliff — What About the Environmental Cliff?

The Earth seen from Apollo 17.
The Earth seen from Apollo 17. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

2012 was the year from hell for the environment, according to some. ‘Humans seem to have an unfortunate tendency to be short sighted’ says Linda Buzzell gives her opinion in Huffpost.  I agree!

We have evolved to respond to the immediate, local crisis while ignoring larger, more general threats to our collective survival.

We’re still cleaning up the expensive messes left by this year’s storms, droughts and wildfires but can’t seem to fathom or adequately respond to the implications of the radical shifts in global climate conditions that threaten not only those currently alive, but the survival possibilities for our children and grandchildren — and millions of other species around our small planet that are dying at the rate of 200 species a day.

Instead, we focus on what seems a more immediate threat: the economic “fiscal cliff.”

What we don’t seem to understand is that, as economist Herman Daly once said, “the economy is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the environment.” A healthy economy cannot long exist on an unhealthy planet.

Here’s the deal: we live in harmony with the rest of nature or we do not live.

Most of us alive on the planet right now have never been part of a community living in healthy partnership with the rest of nature, and we’ve forgotten how to do it. Luckily, there are guidelines we can follow and visions to give us inspiration as we adjust our collective way of living on this planet to assure future survival.

A book I received as an early Christmas present gives me hope that we can make the needed changes: Choosing a Sustainable Future: Ideas and Inspiration from Ithica, NY by Liz Walker (New Society Press, 2010). We know how to do this! Some of us are already doing it and we can learn from them. In fact, for many of the 100,000+ years of human existence we’ve known how to do this – and those who get it wrong often don’t last long.

The rules are simple: Human communities are an integral part of their local ecosystems and if we destroy those life support systems, we cannot survive.

How many years do we have left to remember or figure out how to live in harmony with the rest of nature? Some environmental scientists say we’re already out of time. According to their measurements, we’re already experiencing the early rapids at the lip of the environmental cliff and need to focus on building lifeboats and deploying parachutes.

But we’d rather focus on other, seemingly more important (or seemingly controllable) things — like the Fiscal Cliff.

2012 : Green New Years resolutions

Energy Saving Trust Recommended logo
Image via Wikipedia

Here are some top tips from Nigel’s Eco Store on living more sustainably. In Shanghai, wife Anne and I do not own our car, we buy locally where we can,  and we recycle and re-use a carry bag when shopping. What are YOU going to do, to be more ‘green’ this year?  http://twitter.com/#!/LearnFromNature and http://learnfromnature.net/

1. We do not have a car – and will buy a bicycle.

2. Wife and I buy local where possible; in China it’s difficult to guarantee to buy without airmiles or ‘organic’ 

3. Flights – we break this a lot, as we love to travel but then undertake walk where we can, to visit natural sites and carbon offset. 

4. We use carry bags, recycle at home and school – all Chinese are particularly good at this. Also we try NOT to buy lots of packaged goods in the first place. 

5. We ensure all technology is switched off properly!

According to the Energy Saving Trust, almost half of the UK’s carbon emissions come from the energy that we use every day – either at home and when we travel. If we’re going to stand any chance of reducing the country’s carbon footprint (and our own), we all need to change our habits (one of the hardest things to do?) and live a more sustainable and eco friendly life.

What better place to start than with some green new year resolutions.

A couple of years ago my new year green resolutions included not to take more than one flight a year, and only to buy eco friendly clothes. I got told off by some that even one flight a year was too much, but I did manage to stick to both of them. (I took a lot of trains, did a lot of walking and didn’t buy many new clothes!)

To help to bridge the gap between good intentions and reality I have come up with five green ideas for 2010 that will also either help to keep you fit or save you money, as well as saving the planet.

1. DON’T USE THE CAR, GET FIT AND CUT CAR POLLUTION
A staggering 70 per cent of all car trips are less than five miles – the ideal distance for a quick spin on the bike. So, leave the car at home and start walking or cycling. It’s eco friendly, sustainable and cheaper!. To help, we sell a variety of bike accessories including wind up bike lights and the fantastic cycloc bicycle storage system.

2. BUY ORGANIC and LOCAL
Say no to fast food and supermarkets and yes to organic and local produce.
The production of organic food causes much less environmental damage than conventional agriculture and also helps to reduce pollution by cutting down on food miles which contribute to climate change. One third of all household carbon emissions in the UK come from food miles, so cut back on your supermarket trips and keep it local.

3. DON’T FLY AWAY FOR YOUR HOLIDAY THIS YEAR
All those cheap flights abroad might save us money, but they are costing the planet. Why not consider taking a break nearer home. Even the most environmentally friendly people can undo all their efforts by succumbing to cheap breaks abroad, especially long haul flights. The world’s 16,000 commercial jet aircrafts produce more than 600 million tonnes of CO2 every year, nearly as much as all the countries of Africa put together. (Source: Friends of the Earth)

4. REDUCE, REUSE & RECYCLE
New Year usually means out with the old and in with the new – but don’t be so hasty. Help stop the planet going to waste by recycling and reusing what you already have – one of the most eco friendly things you can do is look after what you already have.

5. SAVE ENERGY
Here are our top energy saving tips:

Only boil the water you need for one cup of tea or coffee, rather than half a kettle full, and save cash with each cup. An eco friendly kettle can help.

Cook with the lid on your saucepans. This way you’ll save energy and money with every meal you make.

Switch to energy-saving light bulbs. They may cost a little more, but can save up to 10 times the price over their lifetime and use at least two-thirds of the energy of standard ‘incadescent’ bulbs.

Never leave anything on standby. Switch off PCs and TVs when not in use. And unplug your mobile phone charger when you’re not using it. Leaving appliances on standby wastes at least 6% of domestic electricity use in the UK.

When your next appliance breaks down, if you cannot get it repaired make sure you buy an energy efficient replacement. Also take a look at your energy supplier – there are some great deals around for switching to a supplier that uses energy from renewable sources.

Links : http://twitter.com/#!/NigelsEcoStore & http://www.facebook.com/NigelsEcoStore

Source : http://www.nigelsecostore.com/acatalog/Nigel_s_Green_New_Year_Resolutions.html