Monday, January 08, 2007

2007 New Year’s Resolutions Everyone Will Benefit From

The World Meteorological Organization announced initial assessments indicate 2006 was the sixth warmest year on record since the American Civil War. 2005 was the warmest. With no snow and spring-like temperatures this “winter”, there’s not much to stop 2007 from reigning warmest year ever. In fact, a couple of weeks ago scientists discovered that the Ayles Ice Shelf — 66 square kilometers of it — broke clear 16 months ago from the coast of Ellesmere Island in the Canadian Arctic. A chunk of the Canadian landscape comparable to the size of Switzerland literally broke off and is now a floating mass of melting ice. The remaining ice shelves in Canada’s Arctic are 90 percent smaller than they were in 1906. There’s no more debate, human activities, activities supported and carried out by you and I are causing climate change.

Is it possible for 2007 to be any different? Of course it would be wonderful if big business and big government decided to actually tackle climate change. And it would be simply splendid if all the money and effort currently being pumped into the War on Terror were redirected into creating sustainability for generations to come. Unfortunately we cannot wait for the big boys to begin to change. To see a change we the people will have to first create a change within our communities and ourselves. I propose everyone adopt the following new year’s resolutions.

Reduce consumption. The US Department of Energy's Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center reports that on average a Canadian citizen produces 17.8 tons of carbon dioxide per year, whereas a person born in India produces around 0.3 tons per year. To reduce consumption and achieve ecological sustainability, we must achieve dematerialization and substitution. By dematerializing we reduce material flows. You can do this by purchasing less products that end up being thrown away - products such as petroleum based trinkets made in China. Substitution means changing the types of energy and resources used by society, such as replacing coal with wind energy. You can support substitution by switching to green energy providers such as Bull Frog Power.

Become a vegetarian. Meat eating is something none of us can afford. According to the Montreal based non-profit organization, the Global Action Network, livestock production requires up to a 1000 times more land, energy, and water than is necessary to produce an equivalent amount of plant food. Furthermore, fish harvesting causes about as much environmental havoc on the CO2 pollution scale as meat production. To understand this relationship, a vegetarian has the impact of driving a hybrid car for a year, while a meat eater is comparable to an oversized SUV.

Stop Flying and travel smaller distances sustainably. Getting on an airplane each year to travel south for the winter should be left to the birds. Flying is a crime against nature. Try the energy calculator at On one return flight from Toronto to Orlando you individually dump 1.094 tons of CO2 into the air. If you must travel take a train, better yet ride a bicycle. According to Environment Canada transportation accounts for 25 percent of Greenhouse gas emissions in Canada, followed by fossil fuel production and distribution.

Be part of the change. Talk some sense into your friends, neighbours and family members and political representatives. You wouldn’t keep you mouth shut if your friend was smoking and blowing all of the smoke right in your face, so don’t keep your mouth shut when your friend buys products are a result of fossil fuel production. You may find it easier to talk to your political representatives – write letters, stop in for visits, march in the streets and most importantly hold them accountable by voting for someone else – perhaps yourself - if and when they don’t listen to you.

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