Friday, December 14, 2007

Is America Ready to be Green?

Al Gore made several strong statements at the Bali Climate Talks yesterday:

After declaring the United States "principally responsible for obstructing progress" in Bali, he urged delegates to agree to an open-ended deal that could be enhanced after the Bush administration left office.

"Over the next two years the United States is going to be somewhere it is not now," Mr. Gore said to loud applause. "You must anticipate that."

But I'm not so sure... George Bush can be blamed for a lot, but is he really any different than most of America? I do think times are changing, but we're still very new at the green thing. I'm not sure we really understand the kinds of changes we need to make. We love our stuff - our cars, our hairdryers, our computers, our furniture, our big houses. Our trash doesn't cost anything to put out and our water is reasonably clean.


Barbara Flanagan wrote a great article in International Design magazine that tells it all. We're just not ready to embrace a sustainable lifestyle in the U.S.

That said, I do think this ship is turning around and we are getting more aware and more conscious of our impact. It's through talking, blogging and designing that we are starting to take those first baby steps away from the consumer mindset and toward a new kind of commerce. Seems to me that blaming politicians is not going to get us there. Focusing on ourselves and the people we know and influence is much more positive and impactful.

I'm not saying Al Gore should lay off - he's obviously got the ear of some powerful people. I'm just saying I can't point a finger at anyone but myself.


Anonymous said...

Uh, let me see if I can remember back that far, which administration was responsible obstructing the Kyoto Treaty? Oh right, it was the Clinton/GORE administration.

And so we're all clear, Clinton/Gore did not even send the Protocol to the U.S. Senate for ratification.

Bush I promoted and passed the Clean Air Act, Bush II committed over $2.0 to climate change research and over $10 billion for renewable energy tax credits. Far more that Clinton. And that tax credit for buying a Prius, who introduced that? Oh yeah, Bush again.

So remind me why 'global warming' is Bush's fault?

Anonymous said...

While politicians do have sway (both positive and negative), it is we, the individual citizens/residents that really make the differences - both by voting and by our own individual lifestyle choices...which are a very good way to make an impact.

While I don't see US society changing immediately away from our consumer-happy habits, there are tons of ways to make our consumerism less impactful on the environment. Say you did buy the big house and the SUV...maybe you put in super-efficient systems and got a hybrid's not perfect, but at least it is a small step towards reducing environmental impact.

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