Monday, April 5, 2010


I was talking with a neighbour about her teenaged daughter's rabid environmentalism.  She told me she has to keep reminding her that it's all about balance.  Balance.  We have to stay balanced...

I didn't say much because she was unaware of my own rabid environmentalism, but I wonder what she meant by balance.  Do we need a balance between consumerism and contentment?  Do we a balance between wastefulness and reduction?  If the environment is on one side of the scale, what's on the other that we might want to incorporate into our lives to even things out for us? 

I think what she's saying is that it's too hard to do it all at once, so we need to take it slowly.

Energetic radicals just getting on board don't need to take it slow.  They can make huge revolutionary changes overnight for the planet and the adrenaline rush.  We don't need no stinking balance!  But people who have grown accustomed to and comfortable with long hot showers and sprinklers on the lawn and the garbage just going away every week, and the belief that government won't allow anyone to sell us anything that could harm us, they might need to be awakened more gently. 

Okay, if you want just a little change today, when we're only 16 days away from Earthfest 2010, ditch the car whenever you can.  And, if it's not too painful, try to re-evaluate when that really is.  I think a reasonable distance for almost anyone to walk is 3 km.  According to Google Maps, that should take most people about 30 minutes.

Don't have that kind of time?  Why not?  What's so important in your life that you can't carve out some time to walk back and forth to work?  I used to walk 90 minutes to work every day (straight down Weber from Lancaster to Parkside); it was a great time to clear my head and have a bit of thinking space in a hectic life.  It's not just for the environment; we would all be much healthier if we walked everywhere.  If you tell yourself you have to walk, it gives you permission to take this time for just you.  Because your worth it. 

You have to carry too much?  Get a big backpack or a wagon!  That would look cool, and it would keep us all cooler.  Or leave the work at home.  You probably won't get to it anyway.

If you get sucked into the car again, as I do from time to time now that there's an idle car in my driveway taunting me, forgive yourself and get back on track on the next trip.

This weekend felt smoggy, and it's early April.  Forecasters are predicting a warm, dry summer with temperatures to exceed norms by as much as 15-20 degrees.  Excuse my acronym*, but WTF?!  So instead of highs of 30, are we expected to hit 50?  As it gets hotter, we'll see more smog, more bugs and disease, more fires, less food, and surlier tempers.    

We can get used to anything.  I had a vegetarian friend in university who told me that as she made us spaghetti with hunks of broccoli that kinda looked like meatballs once they were covered in sauce.  And I'm reminded of a scalding hot June day when I was leaving the school at the same time as a colleague.  As I head towards the bike racks, she commented, "It's way too hot for biking today!"  Funny, because I had been just thinking that it was way too hot to get into a sweltering car and hope the A/C gets it to a proper temperature before I get home.

Drive less.  Walk and bike more.  Make less smog.  Save money.  Lose weight.  Get fit.  Think.

And don't panic.  We'll get through this if we want to.

*Yes, I know it's not precisely an acronym, but nobody says initialism.


Ruth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ruth said...

The Star article mentions temperatures 15-20 degrees above normal for this weekend in Eastern Canada, not for the next three months.(The article is badly written and rather disjointed) The last 2 years have been below normal in temperature and averages are what we need to look at. I don't think an extra warm spring is going to scare me. I am a person who likes to look at balance, but reading your blog encourages me to look at environmental issues from another perspective.

Marie said...

Oh thank goodness! That would have woken people up though!