Learning through Action

I'm Lauren and this blog began as a journey to live a life with less environmental impact.  As my journey led me to Myanmar, my focus shifted from aspiration to advocacy. 

This project is an effort to provide a glimpse into my life in Myanmar—the people, places, and issues that inspire and teach me as I continue this adventure towards a more sustainable life.   

To learn more, click "About" above, and stay tuned for updates.

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Monday
Jan172011

Finding my framework: a place to begin

For as long as I can remember, I have cared about environmental issues, which is why a recent edition of the Economist interested me.  It contained an article titled “Facing the consequences”, which started with the premise that global action cannot and will not stop climate change.  Instead, the article told me, we need to learn to live with the consequences.

I was struck by the darker lens on the issue—not because the facts have become more startling, the repercussions any worse, or the need for change any greater—but because the tenor has changed.  No longer are all climate activists calling for broad policy reform.  Recent failures (like the unproductive UN Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen) and our abysmal record internationally have led many experts to acquiesce to impending climate change.  But is this acceptance of the status quo a good thing? Has it really become too late for a turnaround?

I hope not.  I hope that our choices today can improve our lives tomorrow. 

Daily shifts in our habits and choices, local action, and an understanding of simple solutions can meaningfully change our landscape.  It is a belief in incremental change that compelled me to begin my neutral living journey.  I am not an expert on the remedies needed to fix our climate issues.  I do not yet know how to calculate the carbon impact of the food I eat or the life I live.  I am, however, motivated to do something, to improve the quality of my environment.

My goal is simple—to learn something new as often as possible—each week or each day—about my carbon impact and how to reduce my footprint.  I want to understand the carbon life cycle of the food I eat, the wine I drink, and the movies I watch.  

I fully expect that the information I gather will be imperfect.  Product transparency can be hard to come by or riddled with confusing data and inaccuracies.  I also have many questions and doubts: How can I possibly calculate my carbon footprint?  If I change, will it really matter?  Does it really make a difference if I buy “green” products?

Through inquiry, error, and just doing I hope to learn, grow, and educate any who care to listen.  Like many I know, my intentions are good.  I want to live in a healthier world.  I believe everyone is entitled to equal access to environmental resources and that these resources are finite.  This project is an attempt to put intention into action.

We are creatures of consumption.  Unlike any other species, we take more than we can ever possibly need and measure our success by how much we can amass (money, items, land).  Our ability to think ahead allows us to hoard resources.  And yes, it also allows for risk mitigation and recognition.  But we continue to undervalue those resources that have no fixed financial costs—drinking water, diverse habitats, the air we breathe.

Whether the causes are man-made or natural, our climate is changing.  Climate change will create some beneficiaries.  As we’ve learned through our financial crises, every downturn has its winners.  However, the planet and a vast majority of the people and animals on it will suffer.  A failure to mitigate global warming with policy may not be fatal, but a failure to change at all might be.

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