I expect a lot of new visitors here today, so I’m going to devote this post to a quick survey of consumer-related activities that contribute most to the planet’s pressing environmental problems and some measures each of us can take in our own lives to improve things. But before we get to that, let me tell you why I’m expecting all the new visitors.
First, I’m going to be on WYNC’s The Brian Lehrer Show live at 10:06 AM EST today, March 21, 2007 (you can also listen to the recorded show if you missed it live). We’ll be taking calls (212-433-9692), so please phone in! I will not be nervous…I will not be nervous…Well, that’s not working.
Second, there’s a New York Times story about the No Impact project on the front page of today's House and Home Section. It’s the result of reporter Penelope Green following us around for a few days asking all manner of personal questions about our No Impact lifestyle.
(One thing I wish I could change in the story is this idea that we are doing this project because it "was the only one of four [book ideas] his agent thought would sell." If I could change that bit, it would read, "Mr. Beavan had decided that with so many urgent problems in the world, writing more history books felt irrelevant. He decided to change the course of his career. When he presented ten ideas about the environment to his agent, Beavan was surprised that his agent most liked Beavan's personal favorite--the No Impact Man idea.")
But the point of today’s post is to point you towards things we can do to cure what Al Gore yesterday called the planet’s fever. When it comes to helping the planet, I’m just a schlub trying to figure it all out myself, so I hope you won’t mind that I’ve borrowed from the Union of Concerned Scientists’ The Consumer’s Guide to Effective Environmental Choices (you can read the first chapter online).
I’m going to mention, first, the consumer-related activities--which your purchase and activity choices can affect--that most harm the environment. According to the Guide, they are (in order of importance):
- Driving (because of air pollution and greenhouse gasses)
- Production of meat and poultry (because of land use that destroys natural habitats, use of water, water pollution, and production of methane, a greenhouse gas)
- Cultivation of fruits, vegetables and grains (because of water use, soil erosion, and water pollution through pesticide and fertilizer use)
- Home heating, hot water and air conditioning (because of air pollution and greenhouse gasses)
- Household appliances and lighting (because of air pollution and greenhouse gasses)
- Home construction (because of land use that destroys natural habitats, timber harvesting, and water pollution due to materials production)
- Household water, sewage and solid waste disposal (because of water pollution and air pollution from incinerators)
So what can you do? Well, for one thing, now that you have a really brief understanding of the problems, you can come back here to No Impact Man to see what me and other folks or up to. But for today, I’m going to send you on your merry way to the following places for actions each of us can take to make our own lives, if not No Impact, then at least Lower Impact:
- Ten personal solutions from the Union of Concerned Scientists
- Ten things to do from Climate Crisis
- Ten things you can do to help from the Sierra Club
- Take Action! from Stop Global Warming
Also, please don’t forget that April 14 is the National Day of Climate Action, when tens of thousands of Americans will gather all across the country to call for action on climate change. To find out what is happening in New York City, go here. For elsewhere in the country, go here.
Colin Beavan (that's me!) is now leading a conversation about finding a happy, helpful life at Colinbeavan.com. If you want to know how people are breaking out and and finding authentic, meaningful lives that help our world, check it out the blog here and sign up to join the conversation here.