Inhabitat

Team Inhabitat Sounds off on Climate Change!

by , 10/15/09
filed under: global warming

team inhabitat, blog action day 2009, sustainable lifestyle, green movement, sustainable design, green design

Today is Blog Action Day, and team Inhabitat is joining thousands of other sites around the world as we spread shock waves of awareness around the issue of climate change! As the web’s largest blog dedicated to sustainable design, we tackle this issue on a daily basis through our headlines – but today we also wanted to share a more personal response from our team. By nature climate change is an issue that extends to every corner of the globe, and our worldwide team of writers are engaging with it on a daily basis – read on for our responses!

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team inhabitat, blog action day 2009, sustainable lifestyle, green movement, sustainable design, green design, mike chinoMIKE CHINO, Managing Editor, San Francisco, CA

A lot of people see climate change as abstract – an intangible impending storm on the horizon, or an ideological substrate condensing in the atmosphere like so many sulfurous clouds. The shifting valence of the terms we use to talk about its effects doesn’t help – remember when global warming surged through the headlines on a daily basis? In the past years we’ve acknowledged through facts, statistics, and far-reaching reports that climate change will comprise an tremendous range of disastrous consequences not limited to temperature increase, and we’re starting to see its effects around the world.

The factors causing climate change aren’t abstract – they’re just as real as the effects, and they’re present all around us in every object we encounter – from the beds we wake up in, to the houses we live in, to our commute to work, the clothes we wear, and the food we eat for dinner. Within all the objects that we create lies a choice that impacts the world and its climate. For now these impacts are generally negative – everything is produced from some cache of natural resources, and the overwhelming majority of enterprises in the world lack long-term sustainability.

But we’re starting to see an incredible range of designers and businesses offering truly sustainable solutions – just look through these pages for a glimpse. There’s something to be said for voting for these designs with your dollars – every purchase is a choice, and by supporting sustainable businesses we can all contribute to the economies of scale that will drive down the price of green design and increase its distribution.

It’s encouraging to find climate change coverage everywhere you turn these days – from major news outlets to small independent publishers like blogs. We’re also seeing climate change enter the realm of cultural production with increased force – years after the release of An Inconvenient Truth we now have The Age of Stupid, which gives us an even more dire view of the years to come. Lets make the right choices, keep the dialogue going, and do all that we can to avoid that future.
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team inhabitat, blog action day 2009, sustainable lifestyle, green movement, sustainable design, green design, mike chinoBETH SHEA, Managing Editor of Inhabitots, Portland, OR

Devastating reminders of climate change are abundant in today’s world. As the mother of a very bright two year old, I walk a fine line in teaching her about important issues to help her grow up to be an ecologically responsible person. At her age, she can’t understand, nor should she be exposed to the maladies and destruction brought on by global warming, but we introduced the concept to her by taking her to see the polar bears at our local Oregon Zoo. Our family visits them on a near weekly basis to bask in their brilliance and be awed by their size and personality. Polar bears have always been a symbol of global warming to me. Pictured in proverbial life vests floating between melting ice caps, or swimming aimlessly on Planet Earth footage in a futile attempt to reach land and survival. We have taught our daughter on a very elementary and poignant level that if we don’t become more responsible with our planet as a human race, that we may not be able to see polar bears one day in the not too distant future. I think if we all approached climate change with this heir of childlike awe and humility in the face of a giant, noble reminder who comes in the shape of a majestic polar bear, we could make the issue more about each and every one of us on an individual level — global warming should not be left to discussions by the UN, it should be woven into the fabric of every family’s daily existence.

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team inhabitat, blog action day 2009, sustainable lifestyle, green movement, sustainable design, green design, Yuka YonedaYUKA YONEDA, New York Editor, New York, NY

We’ve seen some incredible strides this year for climate change awareness. I remember that a few years back, the common sentiment was that the warming of the Earth was not an issue that we needed to address with immediacy, and some people did not even know that a problem existed! Now, with COP15 planned for December and the most influential nation in the world, the US, finally stepping up to the plate to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – and with the long-suppressed Bush White House Climate Change document coming to light this week – we’ve come a long way! I am extremely excited to see what further progress will come out of COP15 and will continue to wage my own quiet war on climate change by taking public transportation, turning off my lights and electronics when they’re not in use, and the yummiest way of all – chowing on locally grown foods so that they don’t need to travel far to get to my plate.

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team inhabitat, blog action day 2009, sustainable lifestyle, green movement, sustainable design, green design, jorge chapaJORGE CHAPA, Down Under Editor, Sydney, Australia

With Copenhagen right around the corner, we will hear about offsets, targets, banks, and aid figures. We will read about people arguing how much carbon an acre of forest can store; whether a rich country can pass its obligations to a poor country; whether a carbon market is better than a carbon tax. You will be told that fighting climate change is impossible. Economically destructive. That the technology just isn’t there. In the end, spin will come out – ‘we got a good deal’ they’ll say, but in our hearts we’ll just know that, very likely, our hope for a good outcome was all for naught.

So why bother? why fight so hard? why bike to work when everyone else drives an SUV? Because the path that we are heading towards is one that we can’t stop, but we can mitigate it. We can start preparing for a more resource constrained world. We can start teaching and learning the skills that we need to tackle all the problems that are snowballing towards us. It isn’t a case of whether it is too late to stop climate change, but whether we have the skills to take on those problems and tackle them upfront.

This is something that we often see in this website and others like it. Every week innovative solutions from people who choose to do things slightly different are highlighted. Stories from researchers trying to make low-cost dirt powered batteries, or non-profits creating learning landscapes for rural schools. They are tackling the issue of climate change not just by looking at our carbon emissions, but by looking at how the core concept of what our society is has become.

Inhabitat’s mission is to highlight green design. Not just because green design is cool, or in, or fashionable. But to highlight that good, green, sustainable design is about looking at things in a new light, about getting skills that we will need if we want to solve the problems that we will soon face.

In this action day, don’t despair. Don’t look at Copenhagen for solutions. Look to yourself to create them.

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team inhabitat, blog action day 2009, sustainable lifestyle, green movement, sustainable design, green design, Jasmin Malik ChuaJASMIN MALIK CHUA, Managing Editor, Ecouterre, New York, NY

It might be gauche to quote a Keanu Reeves’ movie, of all things, but his character in ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’ sums up the truth of the matter in a manner that manages to be both succinct and completely disquieting: “If the Earth dies, you die. If you die, the Earth survives.” What we’re fighting for isn’t the future of the planet—the planet will go on just fine and dandy without us—it’s for the survival of the human race.

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team inhabitat, blog action day 2009, sustainable lifestyle, green movement, sustainable design, green design, Abigail DoanABIGAIL DOAN, Senior Editor, Inhabitat and Inhabitots / Textiles Editor, Ecouterre, New York, NY

I cannot say that I have a whole lot of call-to-action specifics or scientific data to offer up regarding climate change, but as someone who grew up on a small family farm impacted directly by dramatic weather and the severity of each season, I am always vigilant about changes in the land and the atmosphere, even as a part-time urban dweller today. Things are indeed changing noticeably and impacting people in my immediate sphere and beyond. Crops on our farm in Italy have been parched, vegetable gardens in the Northeastern U.S. manifested signs of blight this past summer, and alarming news in the far corners of the globe certainly makes us look down at the soil beneath our feet to ponder the planet that we inhabit and continue to ‘cultivate’. Without sounding trite, I implore folks everywhere to carefully examine their day-to-day habits and the ecology of their households and their own backyards. Statistics are often so overwhelming that we chose to burrow deeper into ourselves and our trusted routines when change is at our heels. Imagine yourself as a ‘farmer of the future’ who is critically reliant on the limited natural resources in your immediate sphere, and issues of global magnitude might suddenly be closer than you would otherwise calculate. Make, think, act, and share the bounty you are able to create by being thrifty, thoughtful, and aware of the plot that you are singly responsible for. Your neighbors may subsequently catch on as well, creating a homespun patchwork effect that rivals high-tech solutions that we are quick to adopt.

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team inhabitat, blog action day 2009, sustainable lifestyle, green movement, sustainable design, green design, bridgette steffenBRIDGETTE STEFFEN, News Editor, Park City, Utah

What I’m most impressed with is what people are doing on a local level. Cities and towns are really leading the charge these days, calculating community carbon footprints, issuing challenges on a local level, educating citizens about hyper-local opportunities and ways to save. Take for instance my own home town – Park City, UT. As as ski town, we rely almost solely on tourism dollars from skiing, meaning we rely on a good ski year and a lot of powder. Our community has started an organization called Save Our Snow, dedicated to curbing climate change on a local level in order to maintain our snow pack for years to come. They’ve commissioned a study on how our snow pack will be affected in 75 years and issued challenges to skiers and people in the community. Additionally, the City has developed a local website, called Park City Green dedicated to providing residents in the area with the tools and knowledge to reduce their own environmental footprint. They have an incredibly innovative carbon footprint calculator that takes data directly from our water, electricity and natural gas providers and dumps it into each person’s footprint. There’s also an extensive section on ways to reduce energy usage, save water, support the local economy, exclusive to the Park City area. Basically, I’m more impressed with my own town and what they’re doing to reduce their footprint than anywhere else. So check out what your area is doing, join active organizations, and support local causes to help reduce climate change.

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team inhabitat, blog action day 2009, sustainable lifestyle, green movement, sustainable design, green design, bridgette steffenKevin Gardner, Contributing Writer, San Francisco, CA

A three-point action plan would tip the balance back in our favor:

1) Paint all roofs and pavement white.

2) Safeguard trees as air supply and coolant.

3) Limit reproduction to 1 person, 1 child.

Interesting tie-in: Two mature trees can supply enough oxygen annually to support a family of four. Households could grow or adopt however many trees to match their breathing requirements.

Local governments could carry out all three action items via education, legislation, enforcement and resourcing, i.e. white paint, new trees, contraception, civic workers and neighborhood networks. Local agencies could educate, resource, legislate and enforce.

If enough folks painted their roofs white and planted a few trees, we’d cool things down a bunch. Instead of wasting time and resources trying to create synthetic trees, why not outlaw the unnecessary slaughter of real ones? Destroying a key source of our air supply, carbon filtration and natural cooling should become a crime against humanity.

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evelyn_copy.jpgARIEL SCHWARTZ, News Editor, San Francisco, CA

I think we’re at a tipping point right now. The changes we make (or don’t make) in the coming year will determine the severity of climate change, which is why it’s especially important to take action today. If we wait too long to deal with the problem, we’ll be left with a ravaged world. If we pass strict emissions laws and initiate cap-and-trade projects, we might just have a chance.












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