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Stay Sharp on Climate Change

Sep 8, 2008
Many people want to act in a more environmentally friendly way. Whether they are focused on the small scale, like simple lifestyle choices, or have their sights set on mountainous political heights, there are a large number of people out there who are not content to simply know about environmental issues, but want to act. Maybe you're one of them.

It can be hard, sometimes, to decide upon the best course of action. After all, for each 'idealist' environmentalist activist there are a large handful of disillusioned, 'seen-it-all before' types who, despite caring about the environment, feel impotent to act in any meaningful way. And for each one of those people there are many hundreds of others who simply do not care about the environment at all - the global warming-denying SUV driver, the miscreant, molten wax-faced oil company executive - who will never support, let alone commit, an act of environmental kindness.

It is all too easy for cynics to dismiss individual acts as being ineffective beyond their symbolic, if not supercilious, weight. However, the very foundation of much green-thinking is the idea that small acts, if they were universalized, would make a huge difference. Even small acts, such as turning a thermostat down or only eating meat every other day would make a massive dent on an individual's carbon footprint when multiplied over a month, a year or a lifetime.

Everyone knows how disheartening it is to try and make these changes when surrounded by cynics. We've all had that moment when some house-mate or relative feels obliged to ask why you've switched to soya milk and, before you've strung the words ridiculous and carbon footprint into a sentence, they have helpfully remind you that a) you flew to Spain just last year, and not even on business or b) those are leather shoes, you cow hypocrite or c) global warming is unprovable, like God.

A key bit of green baiting came this week, and not just from some smart-alex house-mate or cocky motor show presentor, but from the Prime Minister of a country.

The Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has distinguished between the environmentalist who "prance around", that is when they are not being "idle", and the true environmentalists, his government - who have just signed up to lame-duck, compromised Kyoto. Environmental groups, the Prime Minister said, are comprised of "people who try to do something with their spare time." He went on to add "We have signed the Kyoto protocol. Did they even stop to say thank you?"

Speaking to a group of campaigners during a visit to Rize on the Black Sea he said "Where were you until now? Why were you silent? The government is trying to do something now. Why didn't you do anything when the fish farms were first built? There is this tendency to hit at the government and Tayyip Erdogan no matter what. You don't have the right."

Whilst it might be nice to imagine that the people in charge don't normally say this kind of thing, it may well be the case that they often think it fairly loudly. Just don't let that fact put you off your soya milk.

Matt Gammie is a content writer for http://www.ecoswitch.com
About the Author
Martin Gavin is a content writer for ecoswitch
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