Dear BeFriending Creation,
Thank you so very much for publishing both of our articles in the latest edition (BFC, January-February 2014)…it was quite exciting to see us in print like that. We meant to include our Meeting affiliation—Mohawk Valley MM, New York Yearly Meeting—and share that we are willing to visit any Meetings that would like to hear more or have us do a workshop about the trip. Thank you for your ongoing service to Friends and this work. —Buffy and Liseli
February 9, 2014
Dear BeFriending Creation,
I’m an environmentalist at heart. Since 2005, I’ve been focused on the problem of climate change.
Dealing with climate change is my greatest passion. But for me to call it a passion is to presume too much—my day job still takes precedence. Then, I see to keeping up our house, spending time with my wife and kids, and in the few minutes left, I work with a climate action team.
I see few outlets for me to work on climate change, and too little spare time to do it.
And most people I know don’t even think about how their current activities are unsustainable. The vast, far-flung consumer sphere we live in points us in exactly the opposite direction. Consume on, dudes and dudettes, it exhorts us. And we happily comply, misunderstanding that the product cornucopia we enjoy is rapidly shrinking.
In human affairs, so much change is held back by our tendency to give in to the momentum of current practices. This doesn’t mean that the larger issues aren’t important, even crucial. It’s just that we all too easily muse while the fire before us burns out of control.
The compelling question for me is this: what social obstacles stand between us (as a society) and stopping climate change? For I believe climate change is a problem not because we don’t understand the physics/meteorology underlying it, not because we don’t have technologies to make clean energy or capture carbon, but because we lack the social will to do so.
Why this lack of social will? My working theory is that we are being hobbled by (a) fossil energy interests and (b) political systems subservient to the carbon-based corporations.
The carbon-based corporations are using public relations tools to misinform the public and direct our attention away from climate change problems. At the same time, they are also working mightily with established politicians who are still stuck depending on large corporate donations to get elected, and are thereby answerable to their “masters.”
So, it seems to me that we would need to reform the “corporations as people” model, institute effective campaign reform, and educate people on how climate change is affecting them now/will affect them in the future.
And at the same time, perhaps we need to become better citizens than consumers. Perhaps we need to fashion a way to move ourselves towards more personally sustainable patterns of consumption.
But personal inertia is a powerful force. I sit at my kitchen table, made of unsustainably harvested wood, in a house warmed and lit by fossil fuels, typing away at a laptop which, when made, produced ounces of waste metals and gallons of toxic wastewaters. Do I have a clear strategy for moving from these unsustainable, carbon-spewing practices?
I do not. And so, I cannot just find fault with society, but with myself.
So, where to start, both at the social level and my own, as an environmentalist burdened, like Marley’s ghost, with an unsustainable lifestyle?
Perhaps joining the Quaker Earthcare Witness discussion is one place to begin.
What do you think?
J.C. (John Clifford) Armbruster
Olympia Monthly Meeting