22 April 2012

Waking People Up

It's Earth Day, and I'll admit that after 20 years or so of being a big fan (and an events coordinator wherever I was living), I'm miffed with the direction Earth Day has taken, in Canada at least. (Their merchandiser is now called "Eco Bling." Is there something wrong with that, or is it just me?!)

Happy Earth Day, nevertheless. I'm staying with a friend this weekend, and last night we were talking about people needing to be spoonfed. "If you wake people up," my friend said, "you'd better have breakfast prepared for them."

Okay, okay, I'll admit that Diana is younger, more optimistic and obviously much kinder than I am. Because my reaction was, "Wait a minute. People have been making their own breakfasts since they were 5 years old, pouring cereal and milk into a bowl so they could watch Saturday morning cartoons on TV without waking up their parents. Why do we have to spoonfeed them solutions to the global warming crisis when there's a whole cupboard full of solutions available to them?" (It was late after an Earth Day festival so maybe I wasn't quite that eloquent or coherent. :-)

Diana makes a good point, however, and here's where I struggle. Most (most? the vast majority of) people do not spend their every waking hour feeling concern for the human race, Earth's biosphere, or all the other species we're taking down with us. Indeed, I would bet that most people don't even spend a minute a day thinking about these issues. So if we try to "wake them up" without having the smell of freshly brewed coffee (or whatever ... I don't drink the stuff) wafting into their bedrooms, they will simply roll over, pull the covers over their heads, and go back to sleep.

But climate change activists are tired, too! We'd like to be able to sleep in sometimes, too (and wake up from the nightmare), without always having to get up first to make the breakfast. Why can't our governments make the damn breakfast? Why can't fossil fuel companies quit stealing all the food from our cereal cupboard? Why can't people lay out their own breakfasts before going to bed the night before? Why must this be so damn hard, when the solutions are yummy and nutritious for everyone but those heavily invested in fossil fuels — though extremely healthy for their children and grandchildren!

Well, I've just made myself hungry for breakfast, so will leave you with this thought for Earth Day. If we don't make the solutions look, smell and taste incredibly delicious (and cheap and available), I guess it doesn't make sense to wake people up. They'll just get cranky with us! So, into the kitchen with us, fellow climate change activists. Let's get cooking together.

Happy Earth Day, everyone.


  1. Love the metaphor, though I find it interesting that you weren't clear what kind of "milk" you were putting on your cereal... ;) Hopefully not from an animal as that contributes so much to global climate change as well! We all have a lot of work to do in getting off fossil fuels, nuclear energy and consuming animals... It IS tiring... but hopefully it's a GOOD kind of tired! ;)

    1. Hi Michael,
      My milk is definitely not from an animal! (Yuck.) Not for many, many years now.

      I'd like to suggest that we not hurry to get off nuclear fission, since it's a zero-carbon energy source (and the new PRISM reactors actually burn nuclear waste, helping with that problem). At least not until we have fusion online, which (if we were to switch some of the trillions of dollars in fossil fuel subsidies over to fusion R&D) should be fairly soon. Fusion is safe, clean, high-density energy that could power us into the solar age. Otherwise, we'll be burning fossil fuels like crazy to build the renewable energy infrastructure we need ... kinda defeating the purpose.

      But certainly, eating lower on the food chain is increasingly being shown to be super helpful at lowering our carbon footprint.

      Thanks for coming to the table, Michael. I appreciated hearing from you.


I would appreciate hearing your thoughts or questions on this post or anything else you've read here. What is your take on courage and compassion being an important part of the solution to the climate change emergency?