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The High Country Road of Walking The Talk

February 8th, 2008 by Alison · 2 Comments · sustainability

Since I live in the West and care about it, I recently started a subscription to High Country News. I just read a letter to the editor in it that I think cuts to the heart of dealing with climate change.

Mr. Graef, a self-described moderate conservative and environmentalist, writes that liberals are: “incapable of changing their own lifestyle to usher in the anti-oil world they desire. Have you made a major sacrifice to decrease global warming? Have you eschewed an international vacation or . . . opted out of a road trip just to reduce your ‘carbon footprint’?”

While my household does have an altered lifestyle, I agree with him that most liberals do not. (Or at least, the obligatory Prius does not scratch the surface of change needed.)

Mr. Graef states, “The liberal environmentalist appears to be more interested in being right . . . . than actually changing their own personal habits of consumption.”

I’d say liberals have merely been right — with words — about global warming, while conservatives have been in denial. But liberal words are useless by themselves. Leadership on climate change is about action, not words. I love that a conservative person is speaking this truth. My Western hat is off to Mr. Graef.

In my next post I’ll talk about my household’s sacrifices and altered lifestyle — and yours too, if you’ll write in. In the meantime, for clear, cogent measures we can all take now, look at the Empowerment Institute’s excellent Low Carbon Diet Workbook .

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2 Comments so far ↓

  • Vicki Lind

    Hi,
    The good news and the bad news is that there are a thousand habits to change, from how we eat to how we drive. I am fortunate that my life-style involves living in a small space, in an apt. in a triplex that I own. That means three families with one roof, one washing machine, etc. and I do not consume much energy for light and heat. It is easier for me to change one system than to have to focus, one at a time if it is much of a loss, sacrifice to skip one trip, one X. It helps me that some of the changes towards sustainability hit two targets simultaneously. Shopping at the farmer’s market helps the local economy, and carbon spent to haul food, while promoting health.
    Turning the heat down at night, and using a small electric heater just before dozing off is my latest. A win for the budget, a win for the environment. Eventually there may need to be more discomfort, but for now, I am seeking to maximize the win/win/feel OK aspects of changing.
    Vicki

  • Scott

    Hi Alison,
    I do agree that we must all take action instead of concerting our efforts around words which seem to accomplish nothing. Words are immortal though, and I do see a a necessity of both words and action. It sure makes me mad to hear about Al Gores mansion, which ruins the respect I had for him. What a folly!
    We are in a complicated scenario and it takes words to rise above it, and actions to follow suit. Everyone must have a reason though for choosing the action, and in this society it’s easy for an idea so essential to be lost in words, media and political frenzy. It becomes a right-left thing, instead of a personal responsibility.
    I always remind myself that all human suffering is neatly intertwined with the mistreatment of the planet, and we must start healing the earth first. It is us in the rich countries who consume the lands from beneath the poor countries. In the words of Edward Abbey, “making our gross domestic product even grosser.”
    Maybe some people feel they’ve done enough with words and are somehow exempt from practicing as they preach. Even Abbey was rumored to have driven a 12 cylinder while clarifying that the sooner we burn it all up the sooner we get back to horses.
    It all begins with number one. Ride your bike. Vote with your money and your actions, but don’t forget to start a blog to spread the word; which I haven’t done but intend to do soon.
    -SS

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