Not everyone thinks it is important to be ‘Green.’ Maybe most people who have seen the message about climate change and waste and shortages of essential commodities like water and food think it is good to be a bit greener, whatever that means. But not everyone.
I stood at the exit of the Green Fair in Chichester, UK (October 2011). I asked people what their thinking was. I want to explore some of the issues and ideas. But a Blog is meant to be interactive, not just one view, not the truth but one perspective to start with and things added, so it needs you to get involved too!
Of course if you disagree with me then I will ban you, no, only kidding. My rule is is simply about being polite and being legal.
I start with the idea that there is no right answer for most green things. It is healthier to walk and not drive, but I remember in Australia being told to get in the vehicle for a 300 yard stretch of road rather than walk. Why? Because at any moment a host of wild horses could come down the track and if they did, you had no way out. So driving was healthier!
Even if you are ‘carbon counting’, do you really know if your car gives off more carbon dioxide than you do for the same stretch of road? And what about if there were 5 in the car?
So the first difficulty is making some kind of judgement for you, yourself, in what you do. As you don’t know in any absolute terms the best you can do maybe is hope that overall you get it right more than wrong, and this blog is about helping you get it right more often than wrong.
The second thing is how big a change do you have to make? As someone said, it everybody does a little to help, all that gets done is lots of little things, which don’t add up to much if our footprint needs to go down by 90%!
As you move teaspoonfuls of water out of the sinking boat, you might consider if it was better to learn to swim.
The issues are so huge that all I can think of doing is helping the discussion on a bit. If I took the view that only absolutely drastic change was going to work then I think all that would happen is I would increase the number of people who either denied it or who agreed and said there was, therefore, nothing they could do. A little was never going to be enough.
In some ways I think being greener is just a healthy attitude. The more we ‘respect’ what we have the more we enjoy it. Things that come too easily are just not so appreciated. So let’s be a bit greener, let’s not imagine the worst, let’s keep an eye on the game, so if we need to up our actions we can do, and let’s not stop someone coming along and solving a big part of the Climate Change issue if they can, we might just need the odd miracle from time to time, from scientists or other sources.
For those who have read my book, How to Advise The President, I should make some brief remarks about how I see the Context for Climate Change. Climate change is high risk, with lots of unknowns, potentially catalytic and catastrophic, complex and collaborative.
It is collaborative because actions by some people may counter that of other people, even when both have a green agenda. It is high risk in that the consequences are awful, and action should be taken even if you thought the chances are low.
It is possibly catalytic, such as Greenland melting, which would trigger just about everything else if it happened, probably.
So, from the book:
“Given complexity of enormous proportions, it seems foolish to think that you will ever find an expert who ‘knows the answer.’
In highly complex situations (one’s which are truly complex and not just have unknowns), experts are best used briefly to assist in generating a range of hypotheses and this leads to a range of actions, none of which should be too expensive as all need to be tried.
Money is saved on not paying much to experts because they are used briefly and intensively rather than extensively.
If, however, the risk assessment suggests near term, catalytic, catastrophic outcomes then a mental switch may be needed to focus (and gamble) entirely on one strategy and make it happen, single-mindedly.
So the advice to The President is, spend a little money on getting advice from lots of people, treat them all as speculative, and spend money trying out all those that seem to have any chance of success.
The cost benefit ratio comes from spread betting, but huge returns on the winner.
Once a winning formula seems to be emerging, then the action set, the thinking set may change, you no longer may have the complex, collaborative change programme but the risk of failure may remain high.”
Nov 12th 2011