Looking for Buds

It’s Blog Action Day today and the theme is climate change. Thought I’d do what I could to help.

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Every year when spring time comes I look for the buds that form on the trees, on plants, like the fists of little green babies. It is something I still marvel at, that within that tiny, curled structure a beautiful flower or leaf will unfold.

It’s the climate that decides how many buds there will be, whether or not they will be fully formed or will wither and die. The climate brings the water and the wind, the heat and the dust. Sometimes what it brings is too much. Sometimes not enough.

In my own lifetime I have seen it change. The climate. I don’t need a scientist to tell me it is the case. I have collected my own anecdotal evidence by looking out the window, by standing in the park. By driving from the city into the country.

The lines of trees are thinner. Chopped down or decimated by fire. The birds are scarcer. In many places, native wildlife is non-existent. Man, the most highly evolved of all the species, able to write symphonies and songs and sonnets, encroaches continuously on the very thing that gives him inspiration. The natural world.

I am tired of the naysayers. The fat cats in government and big business who can’t or won’t let go of their coal or oil cash cows. The right wing extremists who say climate change isn’t happening and the left wing loonies who look at you like you are a baby killer if you happen to carry a plastic bag.

I love this planet. I really do. And I do what I can.

I recycle. I take short showers. I mulch my garden. I don’t wear fur. I only eat free range meat and chicken and go organic as much as I can. I use calico bags when I go shopping. I don’t buy products tested on animals.

But I have a 20 year old 6-cyclinder car. It uses unleaded petrol, but doesn’t like ethanol. I can’t install a rainwater tank because the house I live in isn’t mine. I use a lot of products like asthma inhalers and cortisone creams that are in plastic containers which probably won’t ever biodegrade. I imagine them sitting in landfill, emitting some kind of horrible toxin as they melt in the sun.

I feel guilty about the crap I throw out. And angry that a lot of the time I have no choice because the people who could really make a difference – the politicians I helped elect – don’t force the real polluters of the planet, the primary producers, the manufacturers, the supermarkets to follow a more environmentally responsible code of practice.

I hate plastic. I hate goods made from plastic, placed in a plastic container and then wrapped in more plastic. I think supermarkets who sell these items suffering from plastic overload should be tried for crimes against humanity. Or at least against Mother Earth.

I laugh my head off when I’m in a supermarket and an announcement comes over the loudspeaker saying that customers should buy the 15c reusable, thick plastic bags at the checkout if they’re concerned about the environment.

Reusable plastic bags. Helping you help the environment.

What a load of cobblers. I can tell you without doing any research at all that less than 1% of those bags will be reused. Most of them will end up blowing about in my street. Or in stormwater drains. Or strangling the sea birds that forage on the shores of the bay. And I will see the discarded, reusable plastic bags and instead of smiling wryly, I will weep.

So what has plastic got to do with climate change anyway?

Landfill produces more harmful gases than the world’s car emissions. Destroying the increasingly fragile ozone layer. The plastic in those landfills breaks down over time but doesn’t completely disappear. It breaks into fragmented pieces, little plastic tears that leach in the soil and into the water table. It also ends up in the oceans. Seabirds and fish think it’s food and die from it eating it. It makes the water in the oceans more acidic so that less and less life can be sustained. Which means less and less food for us. If you don’t believe me, read this.

Deforestation is another major contributor to climate change. It is particularly bad in places like Indonesia, China, the Amazon. But you know what? I can’t blame any man for cutting down a tree so his family can eat. Saving the planet isn’t his responsibility, especially when the most developed economies in the western world waste 50% of their food every year. The food and products supermarkets in America, the UK and Australia throw out could feed the word’s hungry several times over. If you don’t believe me, read Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal by Stuart Tristram. You will never walk down a supermarket aisle the same way again.

There is evidence that climate change has happened before. It is, in fact a natural cycle. But what has taken millions of years before has taken only a few lifetimes at the hands of the human race and our obsession with the bright and shiny.

I try to make a difference. I try all the time. But I get sick of the fighting on both sides of government. Both sides are so concerned with opposing the other that nothing ever gets done. And the planet continues to groan.

So what’s the answer? Go a live in a cave? Tuck your knees under your chin and suck your thumb? Give in to a pyromaniacs dream and burn it all?

Don’t give up. That’s the first thing. Little steps lead to bigger ones. I’ve seen it. Then write letters to your MP. Complain to your supermarket regarding their packaging. Hassle your local council about waste collection. Do what you can even if you think it’s not enough, because I can tell you it is making a difference.

This planet is the only one we have to save. How can we step over it like it’s a wino in the street that we want to get away from as quickly as possible?

Even when it seems like there is no point, like there is too much effort in trying to be green, don’t stop. I know you want to see the little scrunchy buds on the trees next year as much as I do. I know you want to see them unfurl. Every little bit helps. The biggest mother you ever met in your life will thank you.

Good old Mother Earth.

Image with thanks from Flickr.
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12 thoughts on “Looking for Buds

  1. Your last paragraph says it all Sel. It’s so easy to slip back into bad habits, looking at all the people who don’t give a toss, including the politicians. But the big changes that have happened in this world usually started small and were moved forward to to victory by the regular, working citizens.

    This post was so well written and hit on so many important points. Excellent Sel, just excellent! 🙂

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  2. Terrific post. I’m an ardent conservationist, although I cannot do it all and don’t profess to. I try and each year I try more. It feels good when hubs, daughter, friends, and bloggers are doing more!

    This is the first I heard of Blog Action Day. This is written splendidly. I especially liked “The biggest mother you ever met in your life will thank you.”

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  3. Excellent post, you make some very good points, especially about over consumption and plastic.

    And you’re right it isn’t the fault of small farmers in the Amazon etc clearing land to feed their family. It’s the fault of the huge corporations that chop down hectares and hectares of trees to clear the way for biofuel planations or for cattle. Good news recently on that as several major shoe manufacturers got together and have pledged not to use leather from deforested areas of the Amazon.

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  4. GERALDINE:
    I do believe the individual can make a difference. A groundswell has to start somewhere. Already there are significant changes going on. It gives me hope!

    GEL:
    I think it’s important to do what you can and try not to feel guilty if you can’t do more because it can become all-consuming. If everyone does a little bit it ends up being a lot. Even Wonder Woman couldn’t save the world in one day!

    CRAFTY GREEN:
    That’s excellent news. I just want those big corporations to be held accountable, really. It would make such a difference!

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  5. Yes, I feel guilty sometimes. I do well on all the little things – drive very little, use low energy bulbs, don’t use plastic bags and avoid packaging, buy organic and local produce BUT I love to travel so I fly far too often. And every time I fly I undo several thousand times over all the little good things I do.

    But the ONLY way to stop people like me from flying is to price us out of it. I don’t think I can be persuaded any other way.

    I’ve noticed some changes with bag use over here – over the past year people are using proper shopping bags far more often. For years only old ladies did so.

    And when fuel prices rose suddenly here last summer, lots of parents at the school switched to walking and cycling – but then switched back to their cars when prices fell.

    But yes, we must all do what we can. And I will try to have a flight-free year one time soon – maybe next year?

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  6. Conservation is not exactly a buzz word here in Bahrain. Coming from Belgium, where there are no plastic bags in supermarkets anymore, I was horrified to discover on my first supermarket shop that I came back with over 20 plastic bags, each containing only 3 or 4 items. I now use my plastic shopping boxes from Brussels and am hoping the Bahrainis will learn by example.

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  7. Excellent post! It makes me think of a paper I wrote for my geography class! I try to do my part – but when I look around me I am happy to say that my friends are also doing their part!

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  8. I try really hard to do the right thing for the environment. I don’t use plastic bags, I recycle everything, I bucket water the trees and shrubs so as not to waste water, we even top up our pool with rainwater but I know it probably isn’t enough.

    We really have made a mess of this planet haven’t we?

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  9. I believe, that in spite of everything man does to save this earth from eventual disaster, nothing is going to work until we, in some manner or other, reduce the exploding population growth. I can’t remember which decade it was: the forties, fifties or the sixties when a doomed movement to curtail a future catastrope began …control the overgrowth of humans on this earth or suffer the consequences.

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  10. I was known as the “Tree Hugger” in high school, no joke. I enforce a fairly strict recycling regime in the home I share with my boyfriend. I profess the 3 R’s to be my religion… LOL
    Loved this post! Brava!

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  11. RELUCS:
    Flying’s a difficult one. I’m actually not against it, I mean, we still have to live, right? With environmental issues it can be hard to strike a happy medium.

    I notice the new bags all the time. I remember those string bags my gran and aunts used to have in the ’60s. I saw them for sale the other day and bought one for old time’s sake. My gran used to buy gammon wrapped in paper and a square of strong cheddar as well as a loaf of Hovis. Those were the days!

    KATE CAREY:
    I can see you singlehandedly turning Bahrain green. Those plastic shopping boxes sound like a really good idea!

    TBALL:
    Most people really are doing their part. If only big business would do the same. I live in hope….

    GYPSY:
    We’ve made a mess on it. I heard on the news today that we’ve got 5 years to fix up our carbon output or it is a guarantee temperatures will increase by a minimum of 2 degrees. That is scary. It sounds very futuristic, doesn’t it? Yet it going to be our present very soon.

    MARY:
    There are far too many people. We are literally running out of space. Maybe we should cut down more trees to fit them in 😉

    BRE:
    I can picture you as a treehugger – you have that lightness and generosity of spirit. Good on you!

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