Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blog Action Day: What can I do from the center of my circle?

Today is Blog Action Day. Each year on October 15, bloggers around the world join forces to write on one topic. This year's topic: climate change.

As a follower of an earth-centered or nature-based spirituality, you would think the topic would be near and dear to my heart and show up frequently in this blog. You would be half right. Since you haven't seen a lot of posts about it, you probably know which half.

Yes, I care...deeply. And it's a big, big topic...too big for me to wrap my head around most of the time. I find it easier to talk about basic human rights and gratitude because those are things that I feel most empowered to do something about. My path of action isn't as clear about everything. Scientists and environmentalists argue; politicians rail about emminent doom or scream that it's all for progress and for the best. Both the science and politics confound me.

Since scientists haven't nailed it down completley yet, I don't feel too bad.  Amid the debate of what is and what isn't really happening, my favorite definition or explanation so far is this:

Anthropogenic factors are human activities that change the environment. In some cases the chain of causality of human influence on the climate is direct and unambiguous (for example, the effects of irrigation on local humidity), whilst in other instances it is less clear. Various hypotheses for human-induced climate change have been argued for many years. Presently the scientific consensus on climate change is that human activity is very likely the cause for the rapid increase in global average temperatures over the past several decades.[22] Consequently, the debate has largely shifted onto ways to reduce further human impact and to find ways to adapt to change that has already occurred.[23] (Source: Retrieved 10-15-09)

Which brings me to the "action" part of Blog Action Day. What can we do about it? How can we "reduce human impact"... or at least make our impact positive?

Forget for a minute the political landscape, power struggles, oil companies, manufacturing...and focus on your personal environment. Picture yourself as the center of a circle with a radius of 100 feet. What is contained within your circle? Let's for a moment consider that circle your Sphere of Influence. What changes could you, personally, make within your Sphere?

I've been assessing my own Sphere of Influence, and I've come up with mixed results.

I'm at home this morning. Within my personal Sphere of Influence, the light is on the bathroom, though no one is in there. My refrigerator is stocked with food, much of which came from very far away. I have shoes in my closet that were made on another continent and had to be shipped here by a variety of coal and steam and fossil-fuel powered conveyences. My car is a mid-sized, gas-burning sedan that seats five, and it usually carries only me or, occasionally, my husband and me.

My Pagan-who-loves-the-earth score isn't very high, is it?

On the other hand, I'm working from home this morning rather than firing up the car for the 40 mile round trip to the office and back. We grew a garden this year, eating and sharing food that didn't have to be trucked or shipped from anywhere, fertilized with compost we made all year, and bearing not a trace of pesticide. That garden patch has already been replanted for fall with healthy turnip greens. My recycle bin, currently overflowing in the kitchen, is full of plastic, glass, and paper that won't end up in the landfill.

The saying comes to mind: "Just because I can't do everything, it doesn't mean I can't do something."

That saying is quickly followed by: "Just because I'm doing something, it doesn't mean I can't do more."

More garden next year means purchasing less food floated over oceans or trucked over road and rail. Moving to full-time work at home reduces emissions from car trips. Seeking out local vendors when possible reduces a little more. And it's all within my little Sphere of Influence.

Also within my Sphere of Influence this morning is my keyboard, reaching out to you to ask you to join me, to raise our awareness of what we can act on ourselves. It's admirable to understand the larger issues in climate change, to take political action and make a difference globally. It's equally admirable...and just as take action within arm's reach.

I'm doing it now. I can still do much more. And I'd like to know what you're doing. Please share your ideas and the actions you're taking within your own Sphere of Influence. Together, we can all do more.

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