Posts Tagged 'High Country News'

Walking The Talk On Climate Change, II

Following up further on Ed Graef’s excellent letter to the editor of the High Country News:

At least one “liberal environmental” household (mine) has altered its lifestyle out of concern for global warming. For example, we use public transit and use less than half the electricity of the average U.S. household due to our clothesline, CFL lightbulbs and low hot water use. The list goes on, but the fact that I wash my hair in cold water speaks to not every liberal being a hypocrite. Thor calls me Alison the Iceslayer.

For all that, I’m afraid that Mr. Graef is 98% correct. Even among the many professionals I know who work in sustainability, only one couple refrains from taking airplane flights due to their enormous carbon footprint. (That is Jeanne and Dick Roy, who founded the Northwest Earth Institute). It’s true that the very liberals who literally know better still feel unthinkingly entitled to travel without limits. I feel clear that needs to change, and I’m happy to see a conservative speaking out on that.

Mr. Graef’s challenge to reduce consumption, though, should be directed at everyone, not just liberals. He is assuming that lifestyle leadership and intellectual leadership should necessarily come from the same people. If liberals like Al Gore have excelled at the latter, why couldn’t some conservatives excel at the former, setting ideology aside? We need all the leadership we can get, from all quarters.

And I am personally relinquishing any notion of international travel in 2008, and possibly beyond. I don’t have to stop at slaying ice when I wash my hair :).

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The High Country Road of Walking The Talk

Since I live in the West and care about it, I recently started a subscription to High Country News. I just read a letter to the editor in it that I think cuts to the heart of dealing with climate change.

Mr. Graef, a self-described moderate conservative and environmentalist, writes that liberals are: “incapable of changing their own lifestyle to usher in the anti-oil world they desire. Have you made a major sacrifice to decrease global warming? Have you eschewed an international vacation or . . . opted out of a road trip just to reduce your ‘carbon footprint’?”

While my household does have an altered lifestyle, I agree with him that most liberals do not. (Or at least, the obligatory Prius does not scratch the surface of change needed.)

Mr. Graef states, “The liberal environmentalist appears to be more interested in being right . . . . than actually changing their own personal habits of consumption.”

I’d say liberals have merely been right — with words — about global warming, while conservatives have been in denial. But liberal words are useless by themselves. Leadership on climate change is about action, not words. I love that a conservative person is speaking this truth. My Western hat is off to Mr. Graef.

In my next post I’ll talk about my household’s sacrifices and altered lifestyle — and yours too, if you’ll write in. In the meantime, for clear, cogent measures we can all take now, look at the Empowerment Institute’s excellent Low Carbon Diet Workbook .