In less than 24 hours I've read 2 articles, one in the Times and one a book review by Elizabeth Kolbert in the New Yorker, about people who do "stunts" in order to raise awareness or disseminate knowledge about climate change. It's a trend where various writers and activists and others do some symbolic act, like a Thoreau-esque thing such as living for a year without electricity, or an attention-getting feat like walking across the country, and hence get people to think about this stuff and pay attention in a different way.
Kolbert rightly points out that a lot of the motivation for this is that few people want to be clobbered with yet another doom-and-gloom scenario that makes them feel like they're bad people for driving or buying plastic bottles. As the New York Times article concludes of the folks Greta Browne meets on her cross-country climate walk,
In the end, Ms. Browne said, she thinks that most people are sympathetic and want to do something just not too much. She was particularly discouraged by a woman who approached her after one church talk and said, Oh, you are preaching to the choir. We already recycle.
In a way, I agree. There are many who are still in complete denial or ignorant disagreement about human-caused climate change, but they will stay that way no matter how many walkers-across-the-country they see on the roads or how many books they hear about in which the writer forswears some carbon-producing activity for some length of time. For the rest of us, we already know the score, and there are a small number who are already trying to change how we live in a significant way, and others who will never do the right thing because it's too big of a hassle for too little directly observable benefit.
However, even for people who are really changing the way they live their lives, is it really enough? In a way, almost all of us in this category are still just doing "stunts", aren't we? - whether it's eating out less, buying a Prius, biking to work, or re-using our shopping bags, is any of this going to be enough? Because the fact of the matter is, we're part of a huge system, and a simple, individual gesture to reduce MY participation in the system may be some small help, but actually pushing on the system to make it change is important too, perhaps much more important.
So when will the "stunts" end and the real action get going?Posted by steev at Agosto 29, 2009 03:28 PM