Tuesday, August 25, 2009

the new singing blog

I intended to write a new post ages ago. Since the last one, though, I have become increasingly depressed and despondent over the state of the Earth. It seems to me we humans can only choose between things that are bad for the environment and things that are "better" for the environment, but that in fact very little we do is actually good for it. With that in mind, here's something I've been grappling with, in the form of a poorly-recorded, technologically frustrated little ditty.


recycling's a sham
they can't recycle all your jam jars or your CDs
or the newspaper you don't read
or even all the stuff that they tell you that they can recycle
cause in fact it all sits around

recycling's a joke
well i guess it's better than nothing
but really what it is that really we all need to do

stuff can't make you happy
stuff can't love you back

don't need that funky gizmo
don't need that new TV
but your mom is lonely
and loves it when you call.


see you next time, when maybe Pro Tools will decide to play nice with Vista (not likely).

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

giving up

This blog went quiet for a couple weeks because I've been overwhelmed by the increasing amounts of terrible information about the state we're in.

I will press on, though: first, things I'm currently trying to give up, and then, an excellent essay I read last night about why changing your own "footprint" isn't really good enough.

The Current, on CBC radio, has been doing a season-long series on the state of water in our world, called Watershed, and on of these programs they talked about something called our "water footprint."

Essentially, your water footprint is the amount of water you as an individual are responsible for consuming (note the turn of phrase): for instance, the average kilo of beef takes 15,500L of water to produce, the average cotton shirt takes 2700L of water, and the average cup of coffee uses 140L of water.

It was that last one that struck terror into my very core. I had developed the habit (mostly at work) of drinking at least 10 cups of coffee a day, which meant 1400L of water daily before I even took a sip. I resolved to cut down and, if possible, cut out coffee entirely from my diet. it's been difficult, but a week ago I retired our coffee maker, replaced by a bodum which I use only once every few days... cutting my consumption from around 120 cups a week (16,800L of water) to maybe 4 (560L). Do I enjoy this? I do not. I am trying to drink more tea instead (30L/cup) and have taken to making cold drinks with the lemon balm we have growing in our yard (assuming a 1:1 ratio for water).

You may have noticed, though, that I also mentioned meat. According to waterfootprint.org, it takes 15,500L of water to produce 1kg of beef, 4800L of water for 1kg of pork, and 3900L of water for 1kg of chicken. Beyond that, the First Canadian Edition of Living in the Environment (G. Tyler Miller Jr., © 2008) says that it takes 7kg of grain to produce 1kg of beef, 4kg of grain for 1kg of pork, and about 2.2kg of grain for 1kg of chicken... so all in all, meat production is wasteful and harmful to the environment, and if I influence the corporations by what I do and do not buy (supply and demand), then enough of us cutting our meat consumption may eventually send a message. So last night I had one soy burger and one lean portion-wise PC hamburger. Did I love the soy burger? I did not. But I could live with them if I had to.

Before bed, though, I stumbled my way over to Orion magazine, where an article entitled "Forget Shorter Showers - Why personal change does not equal political change" caught my eye. The basic idea that author Derrick Jensen puts forward is that a) we have been taught that our consumerist and capitalist attitudes are what really matter - that our private little crusades to eliminate waste and environment-harming products in our own lives are enough to make a real difference - but that in fact these simply lead to complacency and a false sense of piety, and that b) the major contributors to climate change and the destruction of the environment are the corporations, not individuals (see the article for exact numbers, but it's around 25% individual and 75% corporate).

But the thing that really hit home for me was this:
...the endpoint of the logic behind simple living as a political act is suicide. If every act within an industrial economy is destructive, and if we want to stop this destruction, and if we are unwilling (or unable) to question (much less destroy) the intellectual, moral, economic, and physical infrastructures that cause every act within an industrial economy to be destructive, then we can easily come to believe that we will cause the least destruction possible if we are dead.
...I had, as recently as this past weekend, begun to say out loud that I thought maybe the only solution to the environmental catastrophe was human extinction (which would make these people happy), and was feeling very depressed as a result. But Jensen offers a simple solution:
Simple living as a political act consists solely of harm reduction, ignoring the fact that humans can help the Earth as well as harm it.
So yes, DO try to curb your own habits, because it will help, but to really make a difference, we cannot continue to believe that harm reduction in our own lives is the ultimate act of environmental stewardship. Instead, we must actively become involved in reducing the harm that is being done by industry, corporations, and our governments.