I’m currently replacing my incandescent globes with energy efficient light bulbs. I’ve known about energy efficient light bulbs for a number of years, but never got around to doing anything about it. Last year my uncle was talking about them and after hearing him wax lyrical, I thought I’d better pull my finger out. He was saying he’d been using them for more than ten years and one particular light he hasn’t replaced in that time. I don’t know how repeatable this is (ie. maybe he never turns on this light), but it got me thinking.
Six months later, I actually got around to buying some and as the old globes die I’m replacing them with new energy efficient ones.
Serendipitously, a couple of weeks ago, the Australian government announced that they would ban the sale of incandescent globes by 2009. I almost fainted with shock when I heard this. Australia’s current government (why don’t I just go all the way, and say any Australian government) is quite famous for its inability to see past tomorrow and consider implementing measures which might inconvenience their business cronies today, but will help everyone in the world in the long term. eg. their refusal to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. Our politicians love to come up with ridiculous solutions to environmental problems that they were sure sounded so good at the briefing before they walked in front of the camera, mic, etc. No one who’s thought about the situation would ever consider such solutions.
After contemplating this little governmental backflip, I realised that I’ve noticed an awful lot more mainstream consideration of environmental issues in the last few months, another example being: an Australian commercial television station having a climate change reality tv extravaganza thing (ratings, ratings, ratings!).
But the “strangest” mention was at a professional conference I attended. I’m a librarian and I went to a local conference for public librarians. Most attendees were from Perth and its surrounds, but there were also quite a few from across Western Australia. Presenters were local, but also one from New Zealand and one from Vermont (US). One presenter was talking about “making your library the third place” (buzz word alert) and he mentioned the carbon footprint, and that “libraries should be carbon neutral” (more buzz word alerts). Again I almost fainted with shock; I’m really going to have to loosen that corset. But at the same time I was so happy to hear these words.
I wondered if all this muttering was because of An Inconvenient Truth. For the last few decades so many individuals and environmental groups have been trying to convince people that we have a slight problem with the way we live and a few changes might be in order. If only all these dedicated people had known that all they needed to do was get Hollywood involved (and ensure the resulting production wins a notable award) and ta-dah – instant response. I mentioned this to my friend and he said, “It’s just a fad.” I’m usually the most pessimistic person I know, but the term fad used in this context hadn’t occurred to me. I was devastated when he suggested it. Here I was thinking the whole world had miraculously woken up and we were all going to fix our problems. Oh well, back to pessimism.
But to sidestep my pessimism for a moment, I just read a book review in Dissent (no.22, summer 2006/07) of Response Ability: Environment, health and everyday transcendence by Frank Fisher (Vista Publications, 2006). The review was written by David Risstrom, who has studied under Frank Fisher and was involved in the publishing of the book (both mentioned in the review), but bias aside, his review made me want to read Response Ability. And I will have to go to my local library to find it, not everything’s online. Risstrom did science honours studies and
An uncomfortable conclusion he drew is that industrialised societies may choose to respond to human-induced climate change by attempting to further insulate themselves from its effect, rather than respond to our role in causing it.
Although he’s not always so gloomy, Frank Fisher mentions in Response Ability,
Years working to bring about changes in the way people deal with their environment can be very frustrating and ultimately debilitating.
Oh woe is me :)
Note: The conference presenter discussed above was John Stanley and he said this during his session “Your library: The third place” at the LocLib Biennial Conference, 2 March 2007.