In Vermont and across the world, people are understandably anxious. Once stable democracies are in peril; the tide of refugees fleeing unlivable homes continues rising; nuclear war with Russia is again a possibility. While all of these crises require immediate attention, what hope is there of addressing them while we’re struggling to survive a hostile climate?
Many believe the worst can yet be avoided if we take decisive action now. But of what kind? As we work toward a renewable energy future, we often ignore simple, low-cost strategies. Things like preserving the world’s old-growth forests – our most efficient carbon-sinks. And if people everywhere did nothing but limit family size, global population would fall steeply. Local economies might suffer in the short term but at some point, expansion has to stop. We cannot have endless growth on a finite planet.
Another, obvious strategy for regulating our climate involves reducing personal consumption, i.e., returning to local, healthy activities like biking, hiking, and skiing; avoiding cruises and minimizing air travel; eating less meat, leading to improved health and vast reductions in land and water used for agriculture.
In pre-industrial times, we survived through close attunement to our surroundings; we thrived through acute sensitivity to our place within the greater web of life. For humanity in the 21st century, the rules remain the same.
Our world is at a turning point; American democracy may not stand. But while elections come and go, our duty as citizens remains the same. Those we elect need to know we’re serious about protecting our only home, that choices we make now will impact the earth for generations. Are we willing to work for what we love, to act on behalf of a world that yet may be?
Member, Buddhist Peace Action Vermont