Sunday, October 14, 2007

Reconciling Ones Ideals...

In beginning this project, and especially in focusing on energy conservation and the carbon footprint, I have come to realize how difficult it can be to reconcile ones ideals with the world in which we live. It will be absolutely necessary in the coming years for individuals to make minor lifestyle changes so that we, as a species may reduce the harm we are inflicting upon our planet. And yet, even given the urgency and the current focus given to the issue of global climate change, it can be still be difficult to make the small changes in our own lives that we know to be necessary. I have found myself to be quite unwilling to replace my incandescent light bulbs with fluorescents, even though I know how much energy I could save, because fluorescent lights seem ugly by comparison. It’s easy too for me to linger in the shower in the morning, though I always try to save water. The problem I find is that though individual action is necessary, acting as an individual can be very difficult. This is where community action becomes very important.

When entire communities come together to reduce their carbon footprint, the actions of individuals become much more readily apparent. With encouragement from their neighbors and the knowledge that they are part of a much larger group working to slow global climate change it becomes clear that the benefits of the actions of individual families far outweigh the minor sacrifices necessary to effect change. Many communities already are working to help their members make minor changes to reduce their energy usage, but I hope that over time everyone will see the necessity of decreasing the environmental impact of our lifestyle.

-Win Wharton, Cornell University Student


Alex said...

Hi Win,
I too used to think that fluorescent light bulbs were ugly. But we began by swapping out those bulbs that were hidden behind lampshades, to minimize the effect. Once you become accustomed to the new light, its easier to change the others. And in this, I think you raise an interesting point. We are accustomed with our lives the way we live them now. Change is hard, sometimes even "ugly." But as we work together, as a community, to make change we find new beauties that we were unaware of before.

Elena Moreno said...

I can definitely relate to this blog. Sometimes I find myself not making the small changes simply out of carelessness. For example, I’ll leave lights, electronics or appliances on because I forget to turn them off or, even worse, because I feel to lazy to get up and flick a switch. I feel like I’m definitely not alone among my friends in feeling this apathy sometimes.

Another reason why I and, I believe, other Americans don’t make these small changes is self-centeredness. For example, I always find myself making excuses for why I deserve to take long, hot showers. I think it’s really a matter of keeping perspective and reminding myself that my choices have a global impact, no matter how small, and that I have such a high standard of living that I can easily reduce my waste without giving up anything important, but simply by forgoing some unnecessary comforts.

Fiona Kirkpatrick said...

Win, I think the difficulty to make individual changes, even for people like us who have global warming on our minds relatively often, is an interesting problem. On top of general laziness and not quite feeling enough pressure yet, I've also found it difficult to muster up the enthusiasm to cut my showers and change my light bulbs when I've heard several "experts" tell me our individual changes won't make much of a difference at all without changes on a wider scale(on the community, national and global levels.)

However, in the end I think I've found that instead of making me want to give up entirely, this just makes me want to make bigger, more significant life style changes and reminds me of the importance of my vote in the upcoming elections. I think in the end the more significant changes that are needed will come down those with more political power making big adjustments on a wider scale, but that these big changes will all come down to the votes of the individuals.