Today is Earth Day, and it’s a great day to remind ourselves why we’re interested in things like renewable fuels and green car technology. It’s also a day to think about the role each of us plays in local and international environmental issues, from air pollution to the increasing cost of food.
Instead of bombarding you with tips on how to save gas or have a car-free day, I think everyone should take a few minutes to contemplate the local context in which these issues are playing out.
Practically speaking, the issues we’re facing can seem to overwhelm individual or even collective action. Oil is moving merrily toward economic depletion, public transportation is often nightmarish, and finding a realistic green car is almost oxymoronic.
But things are far from hopeless.
For most of us, the extent to which we can change our lives to address environmental issues depends on the amount of time and money we can spend on them. While sometimes it doesn’t seem like we’re doing enough, small things count, and they amount to a lot.
All it takes is one small step at a time, be it biking to work a few days a week, getting outside and walking more, or upgrading to a more fuel efficient car. Each step counts, and progress is emerging from our collective action.
When confronted with the question of insurmountable odds, I always remember what one of my college mentors used to say: “Just be a cascade of good effects.”
Happy Earth Day!
For more thoughts on the same topic, take a look at Michael Pollan’s article in the New York Times: The Way We Live Now, Why Bother?
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