"There are no passengers on Spaceship Earth. We are all crew. "
~ Marshall McLuhan, 1964
It's natural these days to feel some guilt. You're not recycling enough, not composting enough, flushing the toilet too often. You shouldn't drive to work and you shouldn't use either paper or plastic at the grocery store. There's guilt everywhere and it can make you feel powerless to do anything at all.
The good news is that we can all do something. We can all – through daily, simple actions and choices – help to make this world a better place to be.
Does that sound a little Pollyanna to you? It should. Because while the world environmental situation is at nearly critical stages, there is much each of us can do to help mitigate some of the problems. We CAN make the world a better place. And we should do the work necessary because this is no longer a problem for future generations to deal with. This is now.
"Don't blow it - good planets are hard to find."
~ Quoted in Time
The good news is that much of the damage we have done to the Earth is reversible. We can restore habitats, plant trees, reduce pollution. We can't restore the ozone layer, but only preserve it. We can make this world a better place for future generations – we can ensure that there is a solid and livable planet for future generations, in fact.
The issues have become so important, so impactful, that the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 was awarded to Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (the IPCC). It wasn't for any mitigating work they did to educate people about these global issues.
According to the Nobel Foundation, they were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for "their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change.
"If we did not take action to solve this crisis, it could indeed threaten the future of human civilization. That sounds shrill. It sounds hard to accept. I believe it's deadly accurate. But again, we can solve it."
~ Al Gore
This course isn't going to get you a job, or a new boyfriend, or a new house. It's not designed to help you make more money, entertain your friends and neighbors. Its mission, quite simply, is to ensure that you help to ensure the Earth stays healthy and safe. It's not too late.
Perhaps most important, this course can help you understand that the simple actions you choose each and every day can be changed so that those simple actions can have huge impacts. Do the same impactful things each day and you will know that you can make a difference. If we get even 1,000 people to also make impactful changes each day, think of how the Earth will benefit.
Your grandchildren will likely find it incredible - or even sinful - that you burned up a gallon of gasoline to fetch a pack of cigarettes!
~ Paul MacCready, Jr.
So what is this course all about? It's about being "Green", a term often bandied about these days. Being green can take many forms, and range from the simple (recycle everything you can) to the more complicated (buy a hybrid car, go vegetarian). You can pick and choose to do the things that meet your personal comfort level. Someone else might pick differently.
This is about getting rid of the guilt. If you are making changes and doing your best for the planet, there should be no guilt involved. But not doing anything is worse than being ambivalent; it's not being willing to give back to the Earth what she has given us. We are, literally, all in this together.
But education is essential. You might want to make changes, but are unsure about what to do. You might be truly committed to living a more Green life, but might not know how to really make that happen. You might pledge to live Green, but know that organic sheets and bamboo floors aren't in your future. Trust us, the planet has a place for you in this global effort to make things better.
We're here to help.
Here's what you can expect in this course:
Chapter 1 – Introduction. We're just providing a brief introductory message here, which we hope will ignite your interest and keep you reading further.
Chapter 2 – Environmental Primer. What are the issues? If you know that there are legitimate environmental concerns, but you're not sure exactly what they are, here's where you'll get the information you need.
Chapter 3 – A day in the life. Here's a day in the life of a person who is living a greener life. From this person's day, you might find ideas for things you can do in your life and you might read things that you know you absolutely will not do.
Chapter 4 – Simple changes. This is a starter guide. From carrying fabric bags for groceries to driving less, this is a starter manual for those just getting their environmental feet wet.
Chapter 5 – Do more. Ready to take your Green efforts a step further? Then step right up and read more in this chapter, which will give you more advanced ideas for being green.
Chapter 6 – Global. What can you do on a global level to make a difference? We'll look at some options in this chapter.
Chapter 7 – Checklists. These lists will help keep you on task, reminding you of the various green pledges you have made to yourself. Clip them out and keep them with you so you can refer to them and get new or reinvigorated ideas.
Chapter 8 – Glossary. Not sure what fossil fuels are? Check here for a definition of various and essential environmental terms.
Chapter 9 – Resources. Here we'll list essential books and websites to help you get more information. There's a wealth of information available these days to help you help the planet. Our job here is to help you find it.
We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect. ~Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac
Finally, we will ask one more thing of you. We ask that you make a pledge, to yourself, to us. We won't ask that you pledge anything specific, other than you make a pledge to make changes.
That is, changes in your life, in the many choices you make in the course of your day. We can't tell you which changes to make. As you read through the course, think about the choices you make each day. Some people might not be comfortable making any changes, other than perhaps driving less and asking for paper instead of plastic at the grocery store. Others might be willing to make more dramatic changes.
It's sometimes hard to think that your small changes can make a big difference, that your global footprint is anything more than a miniscule blip on the proverbial radar. But your footprint is larger and deeper than you think. If even only thousands of people take the initiative and make changes right for the planet, the resulting benefit could be substantial.
As we said earlier, much of the damage we've done to Mother Earth is reversible, but the time is now. The changes must be made quickly and dramatically. Take the first step now by reading this course, passing the quiz and taking this pledge. As the Dalai Lama once said:
"If we looked down at the world from space, we would not see any demarcations of national boundaries. We would simply see one small planet, just one."