So we’re at that time of year in the Jewish calendar when we are supposed to be reflecting. Yep, its the New Year, and while its supposed to be a time of renewal and celebration, if I have to be completely honest, I sort of dread this time of year. I’m not a reflective kind of gal: Im a forward-thinking kind of person, so much so that my head is often more in the future than even the present, never mind the past. Not that this is necessarily a good thing, but its definitely my personality. I find when I get reflective, I often get myself in a pretty negative head space, where my brain isn’t quite sure how to navigate the line between being reflective, and being self-critical about the things I haven’t done, the things I could have done better, the things I did wrong. And while Judaism teaches us that reflecting on those things are important, I don’t think we’re meant to stay solely in that negative space.
So, how does all this psychobabble apply to this blog? Well, I’m 82 actions into my blog, so why not do a little reflecting on where I’ve been on my mission of “keep myself committed and focused on taking concrete steps to support climate change actions”, in a way that hopefully can walk the line between the self-critical, and the positively propelling.
Reflecting on my Actions to date, I have to say that if its possible to have fun with this grave topic, I think I have. I’ve tried to keep myself entertained by exploring a mix of activities, from the personal choices I make in my home and how these, sometimes surprisingly, intersect with the issue of climate change (toothbrush choices, Action 4; eating less meat, Action 6, 17; buying less of many things, Actions 25, 31, 70) to the more political writing and calling representatives and agencies on a range of climate change policies. To be honest, I think I could do better on several of the personal choices. I have not been as committed as I should to eating lower on the food chain (I still find vegetarian cooking more challenging), and I still buy stuff that I don’t need. But through this blog I have become far more conscious of the provenance of my purchasing and its necessity, and that awareness is a profoundly good thing.
I’ve kept a pretty steady commitment to critiquing coal export, including submitting lots of comments, starting all the way back in Action 5 with comments on the Bellingham export terminal, attending a public rally (Action 23), and continuing through with many other targeted public comments and support for coverage of the coal export issue (27, 74,77,81). Keystone XL is, one might argue, the figurehead of the oil and coal export issue for many of us concerned about climate change, and its also one that I have taken action on repeatedly (Actions 48, 61,63,79) and plan to continue to take action on (posts forthcoming). Fossil fuel export is a huge, important issue and it feels like the tide is actually turning on some of these proposals; while my guess is this has more to do with the changing landscape of coal economics than it does with public opinion, its essential that we continue to raise our voice on the very real danger of shipping our carbon emissions overseas.
If I have to target one area where I feel like I have not done a sufficient job, its in moving beyond personal activities and into teaching and education. My actions so far have been primarily focused on steps I can take to change my own behavior, and actions where I have written personal pleas or comments to targeted officials trying to influence policy with my single voice. Yes, individual actions are important. But as someone who intensely values and loves teaching and outreach, I can’t believe how little I have actually done in terms of outreach and education on climate change. I haven’t written letters to the editor, I haven’t gone to my kid’s classroom or to any segment of the public and tried to teach what I am learning beyond the provenance of this blog and you, my handful of awesome readers. I think part of that is my typical hesitation I have of not feeling that “I am an expert” on this subject, and therefore, I am not qualified to do this kind of outreach. But that’s silly, because a) teaching is one of the best ways to learn and b) you dont have to be an expert to meaningfully impart information on a subject and c) how can I NOT try to increase my impact on this issue when doing so is the whole darned point of this blog? Clearly, this is an area of activity I need to do better on as I move into Year 5774.
Phew, I think I made it through some good reflecting. That wasn’t so bad; in any case, the reflecting period is more pleasant than the next holiday on the list, Yom Kippur, which is even more serious. Hmm, do I get to count fasting as an action lowering my carbon footprint? Just kidding :-).