Friday, November 20, 2009

our world

Wednesday night I saw Al Gore speak in Portland, Oregon. I went because I'm sick of ignoring this problem. I will be honest. I have been paying attention to the research, recycling religiously, acknowledging the changes in the ice caps and polar bears, but I haven't really done anything beyond that. I believe that I am my own worst enemy with changing my life as it relates to this problem and after listening to Vice President Al Gore speak about that topic, the problem really is a bunch of 'I's'. I have done what I thought I could do to minimize my impact on the human footprint, but really after listening to him, I have done NOTHING. I listened to him talk about how Americans are opposed to changing their ways and also about the problems with the slow legal system. It was all too reminiscent of the problems I face in community mental health and trying to help people with serious needs in our country, when most of us are living much more extravagantly then we need to. I know- it is everybody's own prerogative until they have a personal and direct connection to the issue at hand. To me it seems black and white, but I guess if everyone is not on the same page, it becomes a conflict. 

Al Gore's main message was not about becoming educated, or informed. It was about becoming active. Active in a way that will influence policy and help mandate some of these changes from the top down. I agree with him. People need to be told when to change, especially if they aren't changing on their own. Let's be honest, the changes that we need to make for global warming to slow or stop completely are very costly. I drive an old, inefficient Ford Explorer. I would like to drive a hybrid, but do not want a big car payment. He shared that only 12% of the energy potential of the gasoline was being used to power my car(due to the old technology behind gasoline engines). From that 12%, only .08 was being used to actually power my physical body. The ratio of what we are using in terms of pollutant increasing fossil fuels and what we actually need to travel is grossly unjustified and comes at a real cost to us and our future generations. I need to save to buy a hybrid or I need to find other ways to not hall around an extra 5,000 lbs when I feel like a slurpee. Geez? Maybe our obesity crisis will be influenced by finding other solutions?

Al Gore spoke with hope and I was really glad I had a chance to listen and make personal goals for myself. This is a crisis to me! I know this sounds egocentric and selfish, but the thought of my grandkids not being able to fly down the side of Mt. Hood on a board makes me feel very very sad. I LOVE SNOW and that personal connection is strong enough for me. 

What is your connection to this crisis? Do you like fresh air? Hours of safe sunlight on your skin? Your ocean front property? beautiful species of animals both on land and in the ocean? 

Please purchase a copy of his book entitled, Our Choice. Read it and find ways to inspire yourself and others around you. Al Gore finished by explaining that our country is really the last industrialized nation to get on board with being committed to finding solutions for this crisis. Most of Europe, Japan, India and China have already changed their policies and are devoting human energy and money to finding more efficient solutions to this problem. 

It is our turn now.

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