Sunday, April 27, 2008

Why bother? What difference can one person make?

This NY Times article is one of the best pieces I've read in the popular media on the social psychology of sustainable living.

"...what would be the point [of changing my lifestyle to reduce my environmental impact] when I know full well that halfway around the world there lives my evil twin, some carbon-footprint doppelgänger in Shanghai or Chongqing who has just bought his first car [...], is eager to swallow every bite of meat I forswear and who’s positively itching to replace every last pound of CO2 I’m struggling no longer to emit. So what exactly would I have to show for all my trouble?"
If you've ever asked, or been asked, the "why bother?" question, this well-written piece from an expert in the field (Michael Pollan) is worth the five minutes it will take to get through it. Make sure you read all four pages; some of the best stuff, about the kinds of actions that make a difference and why, is near the end.


Unknown said...

Great article Byron. The planting of a garden is something I have been advocating for a long time.

I like what he said about being doers and not just sayers, and in doing so makes us put our money where our mouth is. I'm sure one of the Apostles said something like that as well ;)

I think veggie gardening is a great family /community event as well.In our family we rejoice when we eat some home grown fruit or veggie.

As Christians we could plant community gardens in the church grounds and imagine the satisfaction if the community of gardeners sat down for a meal together eating what they grew together?

James said...

I'm currently reading the Omnivores Dilemma ... and saw Michael Pollan in a lecture a few months back. Tough question with attainable solutions. Well worth the read.

byron smith said...

Craig - I agree. I felt there were many echoes of Christian ethical reflection in his piece.

And yes, there is a communal, even spiritual, value in growing some of your own food. Although we don't have a community garden at church (yet), our rector converted a tennis court in the backyard of the rectory into a large veggie garden that he liberally shares with the congregation and others.

James - I saw the book when it was first released, before I knew anything about Pollan. I nearly bought it then (and might have sped up my current growth in food awareness by a year or two). When I saw this article and realised it was by the same guy, it made me really want to find and read more of his work.