Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Big Sky, Open Prairie, Too much Ozone?

Home, home on the range, Where the deer and the antelope play, And seldom is heard, A discouraging word, And the skies are not cloudy all day.
Contrary to the peaceful refrains of its state song, western Kansas, big sky and open prairie, has been found to have unhealthy levels of ozone during the summer months. How you ask? Are the prairie dogs kicking up trouble? Oh no, not at all. The ozone is apparently wafting over from Texas, Colorado, and Oklahoma. Karen Dillon, of The Kansas City Star, wrote in her article Here’s a surprise: Air pollution in Western Kansas published on March 26, 2008 that "government data show that during summer months, ozone sometimes hit unhealthy levels." Environmental problems are rarely self-contained to a single offending location but, as these studies have shown, the nasty habits of one population can float to near or not-so-nearby neighbors. The same has been seen with groundwater pollution, and more obvious in visable river and streamway pollution. All of us on planet Earth share the natural resources. The air we breath circulates around the entire planet. The oceans move in currents to every shore on the globe. As big as the problem is, the answer starts with each individual person making the right decisions daily to live sustainably and eco-responsibly. It's like any looming task. It can only be conquered by positive effort, one step at a time. Twelve-Step programs teach that the first step to positive change is realizing you have a problem. I propose that all who dwell together on planet Earth, need to take a walk down "Twelve-step Lane". Serge Prengel, personal life coach, has undertaken a re-writing of the traditional Twelve Steps in his workbook, Proactive Change: 12 Steps Workbook. Serge offers the book as a free download. He has taken the 12 Steps which originate with Alcoholic Anonymous and adapted by numerous other self-help programs and put them in clear terms to which we can all relate. Serge writes this about step one:
A new beginning Somebody once said: If the only tool you have is a hammer, you try to solve everything by hammering. Well, if the hammer is not solving the problem, it may very well be time to try something else. The problem is, you may feel the hammer really should be working...that it will actually work if you just try a little longer... There's nothing wrong with persistence, but Step One introduces another consideration: accountability. It is not enough to say: I believe it will work one day if I just keep trying. You need to set goals and deadlines. Not for the sake of putting pressure on yourself...but in order to face the reality of what is happening. Step one looks squarely at reality.
We must each take the first step, look squarely at reality, and acknowledge that we are wasteful and thoughtless towards our home, the Earth which we all share and will leave as a legacy to generations to come. It was not until I started writing this blog about sustainable living that I began to truly see how wasteful my own lifestyle was, even though I felt I was fairly responsible. As I research the topic, the veil is being peeled away from my eyes. There is so much to do, but it all starts here with me and with you. First, acknowlege that there is a problem and that you are part of the cause of the problem. What we have been doing to "solve" our environmental and climate problems have not been working. If we keep doing the same things we will continue to get the same results. It's time to get committed and get creative. We can solve this problem. We can change the future of our planet and our decendents who must live on the Earth that we leave them. Repeat after me:
I am a consume-a-holic. I am addicted to fast food and disposable products and thoughtlessly consume resources without considering the negative impact I am having on the environment and all those who live with me on this earth. I have been in denial, but now I recognize that pollution and over-consumption is MY problem too and our ecosystem is suffering. Step one of twelve steps: "I recognize that it makes no sense to keep trying to solve my problems with 'solutions' that aren't working." I will find one thing this week that I can do that will make a positive change!

Now, don't you feel better? Now take some action. Check out Annie Leonard's 10 Little and Big Things You can Do for a start. While you are there, take some time to watch her video The Story of Stuff. Pick one thing you will do differently this week. And then do it again next week. Develop earth-positive habits and reduce your carbon footprint! Buzz it up


Laura said...

After reading that I looked in my trash can. McDonald's, plastic wrappers, used tin foil, and old razor heads. A while ago I decided to stop buying disposable dishes, and switched to glass or reusable plastic. Apparently it's still not enough; I didn't have a concept of how much I consume. I think I'm going to stop getting take out food. If I need fast food I can eat-in and save that many bags and wrappers.

Anonymous said...

Great post. Makes me think of how easy it is to make "disposable" choices... the processed food I pick up in a paper or plastic bag, with all the wrappings just for convenience. At least if you buy something at the grocery store you can serve multiple meals from the same containers. Need to think first, then purchase...

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