Posted on Thu Jun, 8, 2017 at 6:16 AM
Hello, is it me you are looking for? Probably not since this is the first time I have ever written on here. That said you might be vaguely aware of me as the person who talked about the environment on this podcast, aka David.
So why am I here, what does the environment do and why does it matter?
Well the first one is quite easy; they asked me to write this (the fools!!), but as to the rest, well, it gets a little more complicated sadly. Now rather obviously our environment is the thing we live in, and it quite helpfully keeps us alive at the same time by providing us with the things we need, such as oxygen, complex carbohydrates which we can consume and eventually turn into various types of sugar to power the meat sacks we call bodies, and of course video games. So from this point of view, as long as we can breath, eat and play video games does it really matter if the yellow lesser spotted horned squid still exists (or even ever existed for that matter)?
The answer is of course yes. But also no. But mostly yes.
The reason I say no, is because in theory we are getting to the point of technology where we can probably leave this planet in a couple of decades, sooner if it gets really bad and we have to seriously up the investment in technology to flee the dying rock we called Earth, and could then live in space in artificial environments with oxygen scrubbers and replicator style food printers which could convert plant matter into whatever we wanted to eat. From this stage we have access to all the materials we need, with something like 99% of all minerals and metals on earth locatable within our solar system and could just slowly spread out into the universe, strip mining everything we need as we go.
We could do this reasonably easily, and would probably only get better at it as we go. We wouldn't need to save the field mouse or the pandas. We wouldn't have to care about the pollution and plastic wastes we are pouring into the ocean. However as a self proclaimed sentient and moral species (even if the term moral is still very much up for debate) I feel that we must form the answer of yes, yes it matters. Aside from currently needing this planet to live, who knows what life and wonder might grow on this rock thousands of years from now, but if we kill off everything now the answer will most likely be nothing at all. Not only that, but since most art comes in some way or form from real influences at the root of all imagination, if all we have left is dead rock we may very well be killing off our creative future too.
There are of course many ways we can try to save parts of our planet, and chances are if you are reading this you are probably already thinking about things like carbon footprints, recycling and green energy. What might be less well known is how important certain elements of this is, compared to others. As we mentioned in the podcast, it's all very well having electric cars, low energy light bulbs and always switching your lights off when you leave the room (and of course it is good to do all of these things) but when all of your electricity is still being generated by burning coal, and similar, it's sadly not really making that much of a difference. One way around this is, if you can afford to do so and have the option, you can start switching to a 'green tariff which encourages energy companies to invest further into green electricity. Of course this isn't always a possibility, for many reasons, and so the other option is to encourage community action. This can take the form of either writing to your local energy companies as a single representative body to request that they move their investments away from fossil fuels (you could always add that you would be looking to take your business elsewhere if they do not) or even setting up your own series of micro generators across the community to generate your own power and feed it back into a local grid.
While many companies are starting to make that shift over to a more environmentally friendly way of doing business, it is slow and often laborious due to how much it would cost to completely re-invest when so much of the existing infrastructure will continue to work for many years yet, and was costed on that assumption. On this basis alone, I am quite a big advocate for community driven change, since this can operate much faster and with a driving force separate to shareholders and profit. Simple things like a community composting scheme just needs a couple of volunteers with some space and a bit of advertising and you have a place to take food scraps and similar, and walk away with fresh compost as you need it. It saves everyone involved money, and helps slow the destruction of peat bogs (which are an amazingly diverse and important habitat). With a bit of engineering know-how, or again having these skills as part of a community group, you can begin to recycle things like paper or even plastic thanks to the many plans and projects that exist on the internet. Imagine being able to make your own reusable plastic water bottles, plates and even things like chairs from plastic recycled in your own community.
And it doesn't have to stop there. Want clean bottled spring water, but don't want to contribute to the huge energy cost in making the product? Set up a local water filtering service. Harvest rainwater and filter it for purity if you really want to go all out eco. Tired of being kept on a slow internet service. Get together with your community and buy a satellite uplink and set up your own private network with links to the 'main' internet still.
There is great power in social enterprise, and a lot can be done if people are willing to get together and actually make it happen. And I think that is amazing, so I don't want to end this like a lot of environmental 'rants' by saying that we are all probably doomed to die in a self created heat wave, or that we are going to lose 90% of our biodiversity if we continue to behave in the way that we are. No, I want to end on a more positive note by saying that we really can fix this, and there is nothing large, fossil fuel burning companies can do to stop us if we collectively choose to stop using their services, and choose to make our communities better, healthier places.
This has been an environmental rant by your local friendly Dave. You can read more about my adventures in Japan, and general thoughts on over subjects at https://awanderingparrot.wordpress.com/ or listen to the podcast I feature more regularly in here http://www.3parrotspodcast.com/ you can also find us on facebook and twitter
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