Every decision you make has a price tag attached to it, I told my teen recently. There are visible consequences and invisible consequences for each and every one of your decisions and actions, I continued.
Then suddenly, in the back of my mind, a seed of guilt and hypocrisy began to gestate: I was not discussing global warming and the survival of our planet I was speaking in general terms about life but I was poignantly (yet silently) aware that my words of wisdom apply entirely to a critical discussion of the impending death of our planet, the changes that must be made by each individual (including me!) that are unavoidable, and the relevance of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
It was while reading a recent issue of Time magazine that my seed of guilt and hypocrisy took root and broke ground. This was Times first edition ever to have a green border on its cover, and only the second time that the magazine sported anything but a red border. This was Times Special Environmental Issue, and the outstanding article I read was entitled: Why Green is the New Red, White and Blue. I applauded the author (Bryan Walsh) for expounding the principles of a cap-and-trade system with teeth, coupled with tougher energy-efficiency mandates and significant new public and private investment in green technologies(page 57), but it hit me anew that saving our planet from global warming will mean much more than those macro changes. It is the grass roots arena, the micro, the individual, that fuels large scale, sweeping changes. The tail must indeed wag the dog.
Our collective choices have brought the world to this moment in time, and it is our collective choices that can have the greatest impact on global warming. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness have become a license to do as we please within our means and lawsto consume voraciously, to pollute irresponsibly, and to gratify and satiate (ourselves) entirely.
It is our individual choices and our good intentions that must change. For it is resolution, action, and sacrifice that bring about real change, not intentions alone. My seed of guilt and hypocrisy were a reflection of my good intentions, lack of action, and unwillingness for sacrifice. Intentions are good, but only become excellent when made reality.
When we demand personal change and collectively demand better choices from everyone we can change the demands we now make, and will make, on our planet and its future.
So what changes can I demand of myself that can change the demand made upon our planet? Well, first I must change my intentions to self-pledges, take demonstrable action, and somehow minimize personal sacrifice.
I made a personal manifesto and thought of 7 changes I can demand of myself:
1) my next vehicle will be much more environmentally friendly
2) I will add solar panels to the roof of my home or the energy-efficient home I will build
3) I will purchase only energy efficient appliances
4) I will buy products that are less wasteful and recycle more of my waste
5) I will make better use of mass transit and drive my car less
6) I will support leaders who demand plausible changes in environmental policy
7) I will encourage others to use their purchase power to influence industry in support of environmental responsibility.
The list goes on, but the point is made; I can change without drastic sacrifice.
I have made a choice for prosperity, but I must consider the price tag. Global warming could end all prosperity and all choices for everyone. Although that price tag seems invisible when I wake on a sunny, beautiful Saturday morning and look out my window, I know that the eventual price tag is completely visible and real.
The earth in its own stormy and turbulent way has shown us the imminent, lurking cost, and it demands that we all change our individual choices. I must accept responsibility for my actions and inactions, and we, collectively must do the same to save our ailing planet.
Demand personal change.