home of the madduck/ blog/
CO₂ and the environment

Today is environment blog action day. I don't like memes or mass actions of this sort, but given a recent discussion on the effects of Al Gore's movie An Inconvenient Truth and everyday/everyone environmental protection on a UL-internal discussion list called "opinions", I feel like sharing my views.

The original poster suggested everyone to see the movie and was promptly smashed down by two people who responded along the lines of "the movie has no scientific basis," quoting fancy research on how global warming is not as bad as it's hyped to be, and that CO₂ is not as guilty as everyone claims. None of this research is relevant to what I had to say to this, so I won't quote it, but if you're interested, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the place to start.

One person went further and compared the CO₂-reduction hype to communism and criticised how we're expecting everyone to take action on the basis of false claims.

I was partly disgusted by (all) those replies, not because they weren't accurate, but because they simply miss the point. And because the entire discussion was just another iteration of talk versus action.

It may well be true that CO₂ is not that bad, after all. But it's also true that any reasonable attempt to reduce its emission is not going to harm the environment (not to say that it might actually have a net-positive effect). Or as I put it in the thread:

I don't care for politics, I don't even care for research on this matter. I care for my environment, and I don't need to be a scientist to assume that plastic bags and car exhaust and lights left on when out to the pub are not making it any better.

And yet, I am not a militant green. I prefer halogen light bulbs to the energy-saving ones and occasionally I'll be at the supermarket without a reusable bag; I don't condemn people using cars instead of a 15 minute walk to the office, and I still haven't managed to talk to a housemate of mine (no, not my Swiss flatmate), who notoriously leaves lights and appliances running when away.

But at least I can say that I think of these issues, without scientific basis, but common sense. And I'll say that a thousand people aware of that will make more of a difference than any politician out there.

Not only do I think about these issues, I also act accordingly. But to be able to do that, I had to become aware of them. In as such, I'll stand by the claim in the discussion: awareness is what we ought to strive for, rather than talking about possible ways to start considering how we could potentially one day make leaps towards the solution of the world's problems, of which the environment is one. Awareness and little steps, which everyone can take: turn off lights and appliances, turn down the heater, use reusable shopping bags, prefer local produce to imported products, avoid fancy packaging, and so on…

In the thread, I asked "What have you done today to help lessen the burden we place on our environment?" I got no replies. I hope that's because people couldn't be bothered to show off their little contributions to the environment. If that were the case, then we are on the right path.

NP: Gazpacho: Night