enivronment song

- by Neil Baldwin

To say I recall when major hits like “Do they know it’s Christmas?” and “Tears are not enough” were released to benefit those affected by famine in Africa is to clearly date myself. But they were notable in that not only did they bring together big-name performers to cooperate in creating them, but also they brought together peoples’ hearts (and pocketbooks!) to unite for a cause, as did the many This-Aid and That-Aid benefit events in the years since.

Back then, environmental awareness was just beginning to hit the mainstream. In fact, I can also recall in the late 80s President’s Choice published a “Green Guide” containing hints and tips to tread more lightly on the world, and ushered in some of its first eco-friendly products (visitors to my apartment of the day may still recall with a grimace PC “recycled” toilet paper, I was an early adopter and can attest to the fact that this product has improved immensely since then).

Jump forward 30 years, and here we are with the environment in a dire mess whether you look to sky, to sea, to land or to the climate which at least in part reflects our human impact on sky, sea and land. And here we are in the Christmas season, the Madrid climate talks now passed fruitlessly—and gutlessly—I hear that Band-Aid song on the radio and wonder why the environment doesn’t rate such efforts.

One reason is that famine is a concrete problem with set of fairly concrete solutions that people could comprehend, though of course the solutions from the West addressed symptoms more so than causes. With the environment, many people now admit something is going badly amiss, but few can comprehend what they themselves can do about it.

Another reason there are no benefit songs for the environment might be that, unlike famine in a place far away, throwing some money at it and patting ourselves on the back is not going to help anything other than our conscience. Our best bet to ameliorate (frankly, we are beyond solving) this massive problem perhaps comes down to behaviour change, quite simply: consume less, live smaller.

We shouldn’t be fooled that buying cool gadgets, or new this and that, will make a difference; it’s just more stuff in the guise of feel-good. The embedded carbon footprint of an existing less-efficient product may still be less than that created by bringing an additional more-efficient product into the world. The thing is, there’s not much profit for business in conservation; profit comes from production, and production is fed by consumption.

Your money isn’t the key to this one; your common sense is. It’s not really that difficult to figure out. Just ask yourself: in every possible way how can I consume less, live smaller, and lower my net impact on the world? Be brave. Examine your lifestyle. Change your habits. Most importantly, be prepared to tolerate some inconvenience and discomfort as you do so… otherwise you selfishly defer it to a much larger one felt by the next generations.


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