We’ve all seen the beautiful, almost unbelievable, images: smog-free skies in Los Angeles, canals running clear in Venice, NASA images of the dramatic drop in pollution over Wuhan. Wild animals are reclaiming areas that humans have vacated. It’s amazing that nature is so resilient as to flourish so quickly in our absence.
I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling pretty overwhelmed lately about COVID-19. It’s hard to think about much else. All of our lives have been turned upside down, the stories we’ve heard from Italy, Queens, and that we’re expecting throughout the U.S. in the coming weeks are hellish.
If you’re working hard to lower your personal carbon footprint and reduce your dependence on fossil fuels, you definitely don’t want to be lending money to coal, oil, and gas companies so that they can expand their fracking, drilling, and mining. But that’s exactly what most of us are doing. Just since the Paris Climate Accord, the world’s largest banks have funded more than $700 billion in fossil fuel projects, with JP Morgan Chase the biggest offender.
I’m embarrassed to say that until about a year ago, I didn’t really think twice about buying Charmin’s luxuriously soft toilet paper, or going through paper towels at a rapid clip (at the table as napkins, for spills and cleaning…with two little kids you can get through a roll pretty darn quickly). When I started reading more about climate change, Facebook started showing me targeted content about how our addiction to soft toilet paper is destroying Canada’s boreal forest.
Who doesn’t love to eat? Andrew and I certainly do (although our kids would rather be doing pretty much anything else). Cooking, trying new restaurants or hitting old favorites—eating is one of the great joys of life. It’s also (the way we Americans have grown accustomed to eating) a huge problem for the planet.
I’m a little embarrassed to be writing a blog about journeying towards net zero carbon emissions. I’m not anywhere close. According to one estimate, just by living in the US and using public/government services, I emit more carbon dioxide than the average person in the world, before even getting started with my personal choices (that study is from 2008, but things haven’t changed nearly enough since). And in terms of personal choices, I haven’t exactly left the grid or made any big personal sacrifices.
Optimism is a political act. Those who benefit from the status quo are perfectly happy with a large population of people who believe that things can never get any better. In fact, these days, cynicism is obedience. And what’s really radical is being willing to look directly at the magnitude and difficulty of problems thatContinue reading