Monday, April 21, 2008


Tomorrow is Earth Day - my personal day of awakening. In its honor, I am resurrecting my ponderings on the Church of Climate Change. Has Earth month converted you? Do you count yourself among the believers? Read on and find out:

Do you remember when everything clicked? When you suddenly realized how your actions impact our environment and how living more lightly could help the Earth, its creatures, your health, your conscience, your family? Are you a different person after the CFL light bulb went off than you were before?

Many of us are. The changes start out subtle and innocuous. We began carrying a canvas bag when grocery shopping or we stop buying bottled water. In the weeks and months that follow, we spend hours plugged into the Internet, gleaning information, and then fly into action, making change after change. Soon, we are different - unrecognizable to the people who knew us before.

We eat differently. We shop differently. We socialize differently. We read different books and wear different clothes. We prepare for apocalyptic scenarios like Climate Change, Peak Oil and economic collapse and talk about "simple living" or "self sufficiency." We take up knitting or canning. We plan elaborate "victory gardens" and dream of owning chickens. Voracious shoppers become anti-consumers and take up the Compact. Fast food eaters scour farmer's markets for locally grown, organic produce. Some of us trade in boon companions like the American Idols and Jack Bauer for new friends like Crunchy Chicken and No Impact Man. For those who knew us before but, for whom the light bulb has not yet gone off, it may seem as if we've joined a cult.

Indeed, in many ways, the green movement - or any social movement - bears certain hallmarks of a religion. In addition to the lifestyle and personality changes, we divide people into"believers" and those who are "willfully ignorant." One of the movement's best known leaders, Al Gore, has been labeled a "prophet in his own time" and has a devout following. There is also the talk of converting or "influencing" others.

I, myself, feel a bit missionary-ish when I write about inspiring change in others or spreading "greenness". Is global warming really a religion? Nah. It's an unfortunate fact. Are my lifestyle changes extreme or fanatical? I don't think so. They just fit. Living lighter feels more healthy, honest and honorable. I'm happier this way - even if there were no such thing as Climate Change. But how about you? Are you a believer? Can I influence you to make just a few changes? Recruit you to spread the word? Enjoy Earth Day just a bit more than last year?

Have a happy Earth Day. Do something good for the planet.


Joyce said...

It's funny to hear you ask if your lifestyle changes are extreme or fanantical, when so many of them are simply going back to a more sensible way of doing things from the past. It's the current way most people live that is really the extreme! I'm glad to see so many people "coming to their senses", so to speak. Not only will the planet benefit, families will.

Green Bean said...

Joyce, you are so right. Our culture has spun out of control - disposable everything, new everything. We spend our time worrying about how to decorate our homes, what new clothes to buy and not what to feed our families, how to live respectfully or how to raise good children. Great point!

Megan said...

I love this post! The light bulb, in our case, has just gone off, and we've begun playing out this story every day.

Yours is one of the daily blogs I look forward to keeping up with.


CindyW said...

I am with Joyce. It's funny how we forgot that not too long ago, we lived much simpler lives. This morning, I listened to 10 minutes of a talk show about the high gas price and its impact. AAA, gas station attendants, researchers all commented that they saw the demand for smaller and more fuel-efficient cars. 15 years ago, SUVs weren't around much. But we've quickly gotten so used to them that we cannot imagine going back to cars, much less compact cars. But here we are, going back to the smaller cars. I will bet that as long as the gas price stays high, we will adjust pretty fast too.

Beany said...

Hallelujah! Count me in as a believer.

Every time I try out a new experiment I think, a 100 years ago this was probably how it was done.

I worked at a historical site for a few months and got to learn on an intimate level what life was like in the colonial era in Philadelphia. The women occupied themselves by knitting, cooking, canning and having get to-gethers with their friends and family. This was true even in the poorest and dirtiest sectors of society. OK, they sang corny songs, but every thing else seemed like something I'd like to live through.

Green Bean said...

Megan, thank you! It's so nice to make connections with people thinking the same way.

Cindy: Good point. Really good point. It feels like people have driven SUVs for decades but it is only 15 years or so that we've had those, the giant houses and such. It isn't too far of a step back - it shouldn't be difficult or "crazy".

Beany: I'm with you. I've been watching the Frontier House, Colonial House series and thinking that it seemed a pretty good life.

P~ said...

Green Bean, That was a great post! I worry about coming off a little preachy too sometimes. Generally I just take the "this is what I'm doing" approach and hope it rubs off. I can't agree more with your description of the descent into the crunch depths. My journey has been very similar.
Kudos on a well written post!

Theresa said...

Lately I've been struggling not to come across as preachy or panicky. I just really want people to wake up and realize these things ASAP. I know that insight can't be forced, but I worry so much about how quickly things are happening and how ill-prepared most people are, including myself.

In some ways I am really looking forward to the coming watershed of change, yet I worry a lot about the social chaos that will likely come along with it. I worry about family members in particular, who are stressed to the max now and just can't deal with global-sized problems. But neither do I want to become the kind of 'church' member who walks around with a sandwich board saying "repent, reduce, reuse, the end is near."

It's hard to strike a balance between hope and fear sometimes. Every seed I plant helps me feel a bit better.

Melissa said...

what a great post! You really are a very good writer. I have often had many of these thoughts and feelings in the past few months, so it's nice to hear them echoed!


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