Whether you believe in climate change or not you probably want a good future for your children. We humans are programmed to look after our offspring but anything that is not a concrete threat is easy to overlook. Such as climate change/global warming. This is a very abstract threat after all, and not even the scientists understands it at its fullest. That doesn’t mean the threat isn’t there though.
In environmental law there is a very interesting principle that deals with responsibility for damaging the environment; the Polluter Pays Principle, or PPP. As you may guess from the name the principle basically states that if you mess the environment up you are going to pay for correcting that. At least in a simplified form, there are most often other legal stuff involved dealing with how much is reasonable to pay for this correction etc etc. Large corporations which operate within countries with this principle are usually quite careful not to mess things up too much as they will get a hefty bill on probing and then sanitizing the polluted area if discovered. This is also one of the reasons businesses are working towards bettering themselves in the environmental area; paying less for damages is better then having to get both a fine and bad PR.
However when it comes to individuals this rule doesn’t seem to apply. Sure, if you pollute your own land the government may step in depending on which country it is and what the law says. I have been out on a couple of errands like that during my education, and it isn’t pretty. Things like CO2 emissions and the like are totally absent here however. Yet how we live have great impact on our climate. And here comes an ethical dilemma; can we really carry on like we do and just let our children take the hit 50 years from now?
Most people would answer no to that. I am one of them, but you have probably guessed that already. However what usually follows that answer is the standard bombardment of excuses;
- I am just one person so I can’t make a difference
- Industry pollutes so much so it doesn’t matter if I change habits
- Why should I change my habits and way of life when everybody else doesn’t
- I can’t change how I live
- We can’t be sure that climate change really is man made
Etc Etc. Fact of the matter is that a single person can contribute a lot in fighting climate change. Just look at how Al Gore and his famous upped the awareness of the masses. Or how the “one tonne life” works to reduce their CO2 footprint. Or how much you saved when riding the bike instead of driving to work today.
How we live affects the world a lot. Sure, industry has to do their part, especially power plants and heavy industry, but the individual person have a responsibility as well. By changing your commute habits you have taken a big step towards reducing your CO2 footprint as well as serving as an example to others, showing that it IS possible. Even if you live in suburbia and works on the other side of town with no buses you can still change your habits by planing your errands, ride-sharing and driving with the eco-driving techniques.
The last point on the excuse list is actually both the easiest and most difficult thing to explain to someone reluctant to change their lifestyle. That lovely miscommunication between the scientific world and the one where we regular mortals live is ridiculous as well as totally expected. I am of course talking about the global warming THEORY. In science you don’t say that something is 100% sure, you use statistics and there is always room for error or changed views as new facts enter the stage. Is the fact that they can only say that the possibility that anthropogenic global warming exists is just 99% enough reason to just ignore the entire issue?
No it isn’t. So get started changing habits and making your life greener, one thing at the time. My tip is to start with the commute as that is often a very ingrained habit. If you can change your commute pattern then you can change almost anything!
Get a CO2 pedometer, ie Commute Greener! (it is free and works for web or iPhone), see how much you emit in one week and start trying to reduce that number. Get some friends and coworkers to compete with you, and make it fun. Maybe the entire office and int he end company could enter this contest (another area Volvo IT and commute greener could lend a helping hand with setting up groups etc). You will be surprised how much CO2 you will save and how fun you will have in the process. All the while you are taking the first (?) step towards taking responsibility for your personal Carbon Dioxide footprint. Helping saving the world doesn’t have to be boring or difficult after all.
Have a nice weekend and Commute Greener!