It’s interesting how one idea can permanently impact our lives. This article was born out of such an idea; a simple yet powerful statement that showed up in multiple ways, compelling me to listen.
It began while I was scrolling through the myriad of choices for something to watch on Netflix. The title I Am caught my eye, so I decided to see what it was about. I Am is director Tom Shadyac’s love letter to us human beings. The film became a catalyst for me, when this one sentence—“Nothing in nature takes more than it needs” — permeated my consciousness.
THE Big Topic — Climate Change
Almost daily we hear about the deteriorating state of our planet and how climate change is the issue we all need to actively do something about. On both a personal and global level.
The big news has continued to revolve climate change and its impact on our planet’s future. We all know that in Paris, at the UNFCCC COP 21 climate change conference last December, the vast majority of countries signed the legally binding agreement to curb carbon emissions. Its future is now in jeopardy with the latest results of the U.S. election. Does the world take climate change seriously enough?
Nothing in Nature Takes More Than it Needs
This idea that nothing in nature takes more than it needs speaks profoundly to how we humans have ignored this vital lesson from the natural world around us. In fact, it’s almost diametrically opposed to the human economic growth model that breeds rampant over-consumption and is no longer sustainable.
As I learned watching the movie, when something in nature does take more than it needs, it becomes subject to this law and dies off. We call something that takes more than its share in the human body — cancer.
Humanity’s Disconnection from the Natural World
Well-known environmental activist David Suzuki concurred that the heart of our problem is the separation of humanity from the natural world and our ongoing belief that the economy is a living “thing.”
Not long after watching I Am, my big takeaway from a lecture I attended, was again how man has become disconnected from the natural world. Not only from the natural world, but from ourselves. We’ve become slaves to technology and won’t leave home without it, more interested in ‘capturing” nature and sharing it online, than experiencing and living it in the moment.
On vacations we flock to the ocean, or to the mountains, to be in nature. We’re moved by breathtaking sunsets or sunrises, in awe of nature’s wonder. City dwellers rarely get to witness these, as more than 70 per cent of the population is now living in urban centers removed from contact with the natural world, creating a disconnect from it.
This Changes Everything
My yearly trip to Sedona, Arizona, reaffirms how powerful and inspiring nature is. Ironically, on an unseasonably cold, damp October day, I was led to the Sedona Film Festival’s one-day screening of the Avi Lewis film, This Changes Everything, inspired by Naomi Klein’s NY Times best-selling book on climate change. The film’s message of hope and possibility captured my imagination.
The premise of the film fueled me. “What if confronting the climate crisis is the best chance we’ll ever get to build a better world?”
Power to the People
This Changes Everything is an epic re-imagining of the vast challenge of climate change. Filmed over 211 shoot days in nine countries and five continents over four years, it presents seven powerful portraits of communities on the front lines. From Montana’s Powder River Basin to the Alberta tar sands, from the coast of South India to Beijing and beyond.
Climate change no longer lies solely in the hands of governments. We see that grass roots movements forming all over the globe are standing up to big corporations. Demonstrating the power of people movements.Klein’s narration is interwoven with these stories of struggle, connecting the carbon in the air with the economic system that put it there. Throughout the film, Klein builds to a controversial and compelling idea. We can seize the existential crisis of climate change to transform our failed economic system into something radically better.
Man’s Greatest Challenge
Here was the same message showing up again. The economic system and our disconnection from the natural world is man’s greatest challenge.
Consider these staggering statistics:
- Two degrees Celsius is the internationally agreed upon “safe” limit for temperature rises
- Five times more is the amount of fossil fuels we have, compared to how much we can burn and stay below two degrees Celsius
- $88 billion is spent YEARLY by the fossil fuel industry to find new sources of fossil fuels
- 75 per cent is the drop in the price of solar energy over the past six years
Our world continues to be addicted to fossil fuels. Yet unless we change, there’s no longer a question we will exceed the 2 ℃ ceiling. What 350.org continues to suggest is taking personal action and telling world governments who signed the Paris climate agreement to keep their word. “We need a climate deal that’s in line with the imperatives of science and justice. Keep 80% of fossil fuels in the ground and finance a just transition to 100 per cent renewable energy by 2050.”
Choices for Change
There are solutions we can all contribute to by being willing to make choices and changes. Here’s just a few to consider:
- Pay bills online. If everyone in the US did this, the estimated yearly savings would be 2.2 billion tons of greenhouse gases, 1.7 billion pounds of solid waste and 18.5 million trees.
- Recycle newspapers. 69 per cent of the 63 million newspapers printed daily in the U.S. will be thrown away. More than half a million trees would be saved weekly if just the Sunday papers were recycled and 25 billion trees yearly if we recycled all of our newspapers.
- Cut down on using non-biodegradable plastic bags. 500 billion are used yearly worldwide.
- Stop using bottled water. It takes more than 1,000 years for a plastic bottle to biodegrade. 2.5 million plastic water bottles are thrown away HOURLY.
- Eat Less Meat + Buy Food Locally to lower greenhouse gas emissions. Going vegetarian cuts your diet’s greenhouse gas impact in HALF. You save more water by not eating a pound of beef than by not showering for six months!
This is a complicated topic with many facets to it. I’ve barely scratched its surface. For a look at the climate change issue, James Cameron’s nine-part documentary series, Years of Living Dangerously, offers in-depth information, plus ways to participate and contribute.
The Power of One
If the power to change things lies in our hands, how will you use your voice? We cast our vote daily by what we do and what we don’t do. A great example of this is last years election in Canada. New voters turned out in record numbers, surprisingly electing a new Liberal government led by Justin Trudeau. A government that promised hope and change. The jury is still out on that as well.
This reminded me of a favorite quote by Margaret Mead. “Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has.”
If you want change; be the change. Remember the power of one. If you don’t do anything, nothing will change. So do something. Our future depends on it. No act is too small. How will you contribute?
postscript: This post was originally published on the Huffington Post in November, 2015…just weeks before the historic Paris Climate Summit. With recent current events in November 2016, I’ve updated it to reflect where things are today.
What an informative and much needed post, Beverley! The more we can do – even one small act, can make a difference. Thank you for helping to get the word out!
Thanks so much for reading this post, Robin! I also believe that each of us can do many small things to make a difference. We need everyone possible to help as much as possible and I appreciate knowing you are contributing to the solution!
This is indeed a big problem. If we are not going to do something about it, we might feel the terrible effect in this lifetime or if not, the immediate children. I can’t imagine how lands will be wiped out in the map. Even Maldives which looks very beautiful will not be saved from this.
So true Lorii! We are facing some irreversible damage if we don’t all act soon. Both our generation and future generations will be impacted. Thanks for sharing the example of the Maldives, as so many beautiful places on our planet are at risk!
Thank you for the great information and detail! Like everything, we need to BE the change we want in the world.
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Agree with you Sheryl! WE do need to be the change we want to see in our world. Hopefully more people will do that in 2017!
Powerful post, Beverley! The small steps we can all take add up to something huge and really make a difference. Hopefully more people will realize this soon.
Mindy Iannelli recently posted…Are You Ready for the New Year?
Thanks so much Mindy! I agree with you that each of us can take small actions consistently that will lead to making a big difference. There is really no excuse for anyone not to be part of the solution, as it needs us all. We’re past the time when we can leave it to someone else to do for us too.
True, the climate change can only come from ourselves, we need to contribute to make a change in lifestyles and how we think about such small things as using the bike instead of the car sometimes, composting, and many more things.
Katarina Andersson recently posted…Wine from 3 Southern Italian Regions at Vino è
Great points you make in your comment, Katarina! Yes, we each can choose the things that we can do to be part of the solution to the climate change crisis we are facing today. Riding a bike is a fabulous choice and of course composting and recycling go such a long way too! Thanks for being aware and taking action as well.
This is clearly something you are very passionate about, indeed. I hadn’t been too “worried” about it until I took a class about the environment.. Human Elements or something like that (GE coursework for my BS about 8 years ago) and learned a lot. It was then I started taking baby steps.. I use reusable bags and recycle my trash when I can
You are right, Kristen. This is something I am very, very passionate about, especially as I see it being ‘the issue’ we all would be wise to focus on if we want to remain as a species here on planet Earth. I’m happy to hear you learned about the environment in the course you were taking and how you started taking baby steps to be part of the solution. Yes, using reusable bags and recycling are important for us all to do! Glad to see you are leading by example! Thanks!
I remember growing up and being taught about stewardship. It’s a word you don’t hear of anymore. We are just momentary visitors in the overall scheme of things, but we have caused more damage in the last 100 years than all of human history. I believe Mother Nature will give us our comeuppance if we don’t change our ways. And, we’ll only have ourselves to blames. A great article as always Beverley.
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It is shocking to think of how much destruction we humans have inflicted on the planet in such a short amount of time, Joyce. I sometimes wonder where the moral compass is and why people are so oblivious to the idea that we ALL have to contribute to the solution. I love the reminder you shared about stewardship and like you, I don’t hear it much anymore. Maybe the younger generations have that consciousness, as we witnessed how strongly millennials resonated with Bernie Sanders and his message was a message of stewardship in many ways. As we all hear, Mother Nature and our planet will survive. The question remains as to we humans will remain with her. Thanks for your support always, as I appreciate hearing you enjoy my pieces!
The other day I saw water in a box. It looked like a milk box but it was water. This was quite interesting. I really should stop the mailing of my bills but I am so afraid that I will miss something important. This is all good stuff. Yes, if the environment was a bank, it would be saved.
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That is interesting, Renee! I haven’t seen water in a (recyclable) box here in Canada yet. I really like that idea, as the planet is literally drawing in plastic and we all must do our part of reduce use of plastics. I also don’t pay my bills online but am a voracious paper recycler, so do feel that balances it out. Yes, if the environment was a bank… it would be saved! Something for us all to think about!
A great read. I get great pleasure by simply recycling. It’s a small thing, but i do it daily. If everyone did, it would help a lot.
Thanks Sonya! That’s wonderful that you get pleasure from recycling, as that is such a big contribution to the solution. I also wish more people would choose something to consciously contribute, so more people would be part of the longer term solution.
I fear with the incoming president elect, climate change will take a backseat to other issues, like lining the president elects pockets. I must say I was shocked when I heard he didn’t believe in climate change… What??? Sorry, don’t mean to get political here, I am obviously a Hillary supporter. But, there’s not a whole lot we can do about that now except to make sure we are heard & do what we can in our own lives to help this planet.
Being vegan myself, I feel I am doing a lot since animal factory farming has the biggest effect of all on our planet when it comes to water usage, gas emissions.
I hope we can all come together in this country, and around the world to take care of our planet.
I don’t even live in the U.S. Lisa, and I have the same fear as you do about the president elect and the future of the most pressing issue of our time…climate change. If we as a people do not address it, nothing else might matter anymore. I would have been a Bernie or Hillary supporter as well. It is now up to us to do as much as we can to be part of the solution and I just heard that Google is going 100% green energy in 2017. What a great ‘lead by example’ act that is.
Yes, you are definitely contributing by being vegan and are highly conscious of the impact of all your choices on climate change. I do hope we can all come together as time is definitely not on our side!
Great post Beverley! You are right it only takes the power of ONE to make a change, and when it comes to climate change, I feel that it is something all of us need to take part in….no matter how small 🙂
Thanks for sharing this very important topic 🙂
Thanks for seeing how important the power of one is Joan! We really do need everyone to do something to help in the climate issue. Sadly, so many people wait for someone else to do it and yet, if more of us individuals took a stand, I believe we would see huge and positive changes happening. Thanks for your support! 🙂
I believe this is a great subject matter that is wildly discussed and there needs to be addressed clearly. We as a nation can really make a difference in the way we look at climate change, but we need the education and the president really needs to be on board with educating our children and passing the torch, too. It is not just a political interest it is our world.
Always a wonderful Topic to discuss,
You sound like you are equally as passionate about the topic of climate change as I am, Lori! Thanks for that. Yes, we need more education and unfortunately the new administration looks like it will be filled with climate deniers! Not something our world can afford now. Hopefully we’ll see more initiatives happening at local and community levels where we the people can do our part and won’t have to rely completely on the government. Our world is at stake now and hopefully we still have time to save it.
We can each do something to preserve our resources. Paying bills online and recycling are good starts. Weekly we get 2 papers delivered that we didn’t order. Have not been able to get them to stop delivering. What a waste.
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Agree with you about each of us taking some actions to preserve our resources, Alene. Recycling and bringing plastic bags are a big way I contribute and plastic bags seem to be a big pet peeve for me when I go to grocery stores. I admit I don’t feel 100% safe paying bills online, but know it saves a lot of paper. Amazing that you can’t stop the delivery of those unwanted papers, however, being able able to recycle them hopefully helps a little. So much waste in our world indeed.
I really like the suggestions you have under the choices for change section. Those are really easily implemented and make such an impact. For example, we just banned plastic bags here in California, and it’s taken a few weeks to get used to it. But I like it so much better now using reuseable bags. It’s not only good for the environment, but it’s also easier! I can use 3 bags to hold what would have taken 10-12 plastic ones. Fewer trips back and forth for me, and it’s good for the environment. People don’t always realize that little changes that help the environment can help them in their daily life too!
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Thanks so much for your feedback, Jennifer! I love hearing hat California banned plastic bags, as I so wish we would do that here in Canada. Locally we tried, but there was an uproar about it. People seem addicted to plastic. It is so true that we can fit much more in one reusable bag than in the plastic store bags. I often only need one bag for what would take 3 or 4 from the store. Kudos to you for seeing the positive and adjusting so quickly. A couple of weeks is amazing and knowing you are contributing to helping the environment hopefully makes it feel even more worthwhile. Thanks for being someone who is part of the solution!
Thanks for a thoughtful article. I know I am one who is not doing enough; I am doing many things (recycling, etc.), but there is more that I can do. Love my bottled water, but I see the consequence (I do recycle them). I will put more effort in this area, and do plan to watch I Am – sounds like a show I would enjoy.
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Thanks for being honest Robin! I know all of us can do more and your awareness that you aren’t is a great place to actually make choices to do more. Recycling is a wonderful way to show you care and there are many small ways to contribute to the solution too. “I Am” was amazing and I highly recommend it. A very eye-opening and compassionate look at the current state of the world.
I believe in mankind’s disconnection with nature and the natural world–and it will bite us in the butt one day. Last week, we lost our water supply for a few days. For the first time, I realized I’ve taken running water for granted. I’ve never valued running water so much in my life! One day Mother Nature isn’t going to be there for us–and we have earned that because we haven’t treated nature very well.
I unfortunately agree with you Meghan! We humans have lost connection with the natural world and yet we are part of it. I remember when we had an ice storm here several years ago and we lost electricity for 24 hours. Some people lost it for a week. Like your example of losing your running water, I realized how much I take for granted the comforts we have here in North America. Without some dramatic participation from us all, I think our lack of concern and connection to the natural world, will bit us in the butt one day. It might be sooner than we think too.
I love this, Beverley. We are on the same page this week. I especially love: “We cast our vote daily by what we do and what we don’t do.” We do have to start with ourselves. The danger of feeling overwhelmed is great, and it is wise of you to encourage that one small thing.
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We are on the same page this week for sure Reba! This is an issue that I see to become increasingly passionate about too. It is easy to throw our hands up in the air and think we can’t make a difference. Maybe that is what some of the powers that be would like. I do believe that the more of us who stand up and take every small action we can, the more we will find the changes we want to see come to fruition, will.
It’s ridiculously easy to do our bit to help our environment. As you point out, Beverley, no act is too small. It could be as simple as avoiding plastic bags and bottles, creating a compost heap, planting a tree, boycotting harmful products or creating something useful out of recyclables. The point is, every bit helps and it really is important for each and every one of us to take responsibility and action. I think some people avoid doing anything because they think it is too hard or that they won’t make a difference. To use the words of Dr Seuss; “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not”.
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Thanks for being some who also cares deeply about the environment Tami! I am still outraged and shocked when I go into grocery stores and people are taking a ridiculous number of plastic bags home with them. I really thought by now more of us would be bringing our own reusable bags with us! There seem to be so much to do that I see how some people might become discouraged or despondent. That is precisely the time for us to rally and do even more…as large or small as it is so we are part of the solution. Love the Dr. Seuss quote! Yes nothing will get better unless each and every one of us does something!
Thank you for this, Beverley! We can’t possibly focus on climate change enough. And instead of being terrified (as I can sure find myself), taking personal action turns that terror into power. That, and speaking out–as you keep doing.
You go, girl! And thank you!
Susan Mary Malone recently posted…This Is How You Can Help Change the World
We are so on the same page this week, and every week actually, Susan! Yes, we have to take actions and encourage others to do the same. Agree that it is so important to continue to take a stand and speak up and out too! The more of us who do it, we’ll see just how accurate the old phrase “power to the people” really can be! Thank YOU too!
Hi, climate change is something that we should all be aware of, it affects all of us and I totally agree that no act is too small to end climate change . Thanks for sharing a relevant post. Great Read.
leadership skills recently posted…#AskNoahStJohn Show Episode
Thanks so much for reading and commenting on this piece, Noah. The more of us who stand for the changes needed, my hope is the more we all are taking actions to turn things around!