This is not a good day to be a green living advocate, given the Climategate scandal that is erupting all over the Internet. On the other hand, maybe it’s not the worst day, especially if you are a conservative green living advocate. I’ve been trying for years to get people in my sphere of influence to see past the climate change debate, though not because I think the argument is settled. On the contrary, it is a complex science, so complex that the much-heralded consensus among the world’s leading scientists is still not as clear as we would like it to be. This blow is especially unfortunate because it calls into question the credibility of the many truthful scientists that continue to stand by the validity of findings that prove a definite link between greenhouse gas emissions and human activities. Nevertheless, it is time to look at the many other compelling reasons to live green. Let’s consider nine of them:
1. Increase national security. We spend nearly $100 billion on foreign oil annually (depending on the price per barrel). That money goes straight into the pockets of people who don’t like us.
2. Increase economic security. It's just plain scary to realize that 97% of our transportation sector is based on petroleum. When the price of oil spikes, as it has before and will again, businesses go under and our economy is greatly compromised.
3. Save money. Energy efficiency is a realistic and relatively inexpensive place to make sweeping improvements in our energy consumption. According to a report from McKinsey & Company, America could reduce its energy consumption by almost 25 percent by 2020 by implementing widespread energy efficiency measures. On a personal note, our LEED-certified home saves us between 30 to 50% on the cost of electricity (depending on the month).
4. Reduce pollution. The leading cause of hospitalization in children, asthma is caused by a number of environmental issues. Whether or not you want to believe that man can physically harm the climate, it should be pretty clear that the dark smoke spewing out of smokestacks is bad for our lungs. (Then again, it took about 30 years for people to get the message in terms of cigarette smoke.)
5. Build sustainable communities. Creating walkable communities, growing our own vegetables, shopping locally, and working closer to home all benefit families, local economies and the world around us, too.
6. Mitigate economic effects of globalization. American’s manufacturing industry is drying up to our detriment. Living green is about supporting domestic workers and healthy living conditions for humanity.
7. Improve public health. After about 50 years of study, the scientific evidence in this case is solid. The proliferation of environmental toxins are contributing to a startling series of epidemics in infertility and cancers. Many of these toxins are found right under our roof in our cleaning products. Check out Deirdre Imus’s site www.dienviro.com for some great information on these issues.
8. Help preserve basic human rights. It just doesn’t sit right with me to know that while I get to take a nice hot bath everyday and consume unlimited quantities of water, 1 in 5 people survive on less water per day than it takes to flush a toilet. That alone is reason to start conserving. Another reason is that due to climate change (man-made or not), we will start experiencing more droughts and water shortages. Conserving water just makes good sense (and saves dollars, too!).
9. Honor God’s creation. One of the very sad side effects of all this political correctness is that we are afraid to bring up God in any discussion for fear of offending someone. Yet, that is precisely what we need to do in order to increase scholarship and awareness of what is actually in the bible. Fortunately, there are many good creation care voices to edify us. Visit SustainLane.com/creation-care to read a faith-based perspective on environmental stewardship.
And of course, there is the climate change argument. Not insignificant, and certainly not settled, in spite of what the deniers would have us believe. While the evidence in the wake of this scandal looks grim, we must remember that these are fragments that are taken out of context. Absent the full discussion among all the scientists, people with no understanding of science whatsoever are left to draw their own negative conclusions. That said, I am appalled by the lack of reporting on this issue from the mainstream media. The right wingers have long proclaimed the MSM as a mouthpiece for the liberals. The media’s silence on this issue does nothing to refute this argument. I wish I could say they are entirely wrong about this, that the MSM are merely rising above it all. However, the media’s in-depth reporting on the Tiger Woods affair does nothing to raise their esteem. Then again, they are just serving up what we are all dying to watch: a public figure falling flat on his face. Don’t think the global warming deniers wouldn’t be happy to see Al Gore meet a similar fate.
One argument that the ultra-conservatives can’t and shouldn’t want to tear down is this thing called America. As my friend Barry Stevens, PhD recently stated,
Forget global warming, forget melting ice, forget rising seas, and forget smog-blanketed cities. But don't forget that the USA spends about $1 million per minute on foreign oil, $64 million per hour and more than $52 billion a year for Persian Gulf imports alone to feed its addiction for foreign oil. Don't forget we are paying for both sides of the war by helping to finance the enemy, while at the same time bearing the tremendous cost of the war to support their petro-oligarchs. Don't forget that we are a debtor nation that is losing its financial, technical and manufacturing prowess. We need keep our dollars in the USA by getting off petroleum and utilizing clean, abundant, and domestically-produced energy sources. Only through these actions can we ensure our children's children will have any measure of opportunity, which is rapidly drifting away.
I’ve always said that green is the glue that can pull us all together. Both sides need to lay down their swords and recognize that none of us is above the human condition, which is all too often self-serving, jealous, greedy, and ego-driven. There will be winners and losers whether or not whether we ever discover the source of climate change. Several facts remain indisputable: a rapidly rising global population and limited, if not rapidly diminishing, natural resources. Like it or not, these realities will require us Americans to move towards conservation, which is, after all, still a conservative value.