Art by Deepal Shah, University of Hertsfordshire
The other day Barbara Crafton wrote:
For years I've ranted against calls for personal solutions to grand-scale social problems. The big social problems need organized, targeted rearrangements of power and wealth, not bandaids. Mostly, I assume such efforts are slightly self-indulgent, guilt-assuaging exercises in futility.
We in the U.S. live in and enjoy the benefits of a system based on worship of greed and cancerous growth. Ecocide is systemic. Nothing short of government regulation that makes the cost of carbon emissions, pollution and waste exceed the cost of ending such profligacy is going to do much good. The market may come up with solutions -- but only if government sticks a heavy thumb on the scale to ensure that social costs weigh heavily on the entities that create them.
However, at this moment, I'll admit that Crafton's got something when she celebrates how doing our piddling little environmental bit does reinforce our own consciousness that there's a problem. Al Gore did help create a groundswell of concern. Rising awareness in the United States has even forced the Preznit to put forth a "Climate-Change Feint," aiming "to muddy the debate about the issue and derail European and U.N. plans for strict caps on emissions." If adopting small scale conservation habits reminds us to keep after our rulers about the planet's sickness, that's worth something.
Political organizers call this "buy-in." It's the same thing we seek when we ask folks to sign postcards or make a cell phone call to a legislator on the spot. The planet needs lots of buy-in.