A train loaded explosives and toxic chemicals pulls into a lonely country station outside a major metropolis. It is midnight. The engineer steps off to get a cup of tea, when he returns he sees that the train has started rolling down the line and is just going out of sight around a bend. Now he knows this stretch of track well. Up ahead, the grade continues to steepen, downward toward the sleeping metropolis. He knows that the train will continue to pick up speed unless it is derailed soon. He also knows that the longer he waits to do something the deeper into settlements it will get and therefore will cause much more damage and loss of life when it does finally crash. What should he do? What would you do?
Should he say, "not my problem" and just sit and quietly drink his tea? Should he walk to the station office and try to raise someone else to deal with it? Should he use his cell phone to call his superiors to determine the best course of action? Or should he immediately call emergency services and mobilize quick and decisive action to derail the train as soon as possible?
Now imagine you are one of the folks living near a sharp bend a few miles down the track at the bottom of the grade, comfortably snoozing away as the train hurtles your direction. What would you like him to do?
Of course, the train is the climate and we are watching it roll around the bend. The folks sleeping near the tracks are our children. What do we do? What will you do?
I can suggest several things you can do;
1. Contact your representatives in Washington, including president Obama, and vigorously support a binding and comprehensive climate agreement in Copnhagen. Sign this Petitition
2. Detach from consumerism, we are literally consuming the support systems upon which we all stand and the waste products are killing us as we fall.
3. Learn to live more sustainably, set an example for your neighbors. Reduce car driving, meat consumption, flying, use of palm oil, the human population. Increase local organic food consumption, how much food you grow, your production and conservation of energy, use of public transit or even better, human powered transport, the efficiency of your home.
4. Get involved in the climate change work being done in your community, start or join a transition initiative, write to your local paper, get active in preventing deforestation.
Thanks to Professor Richard Leakey for the train analogy. He used it in a lecture entitled "Climate Change and the Future of Life on Earth" delivered on May 30th 2009 at the Royal Ontario Museum and broadcast on Big Ideas.
What have you done today to lower your impact?
We are washing away the foundations of our existence on every front. It is high time we move from crashing about on the planet like a bull in china shop and find a way to go forward with intent. We must find systems of living based on sustainability. The systems and tools exist, it is up to each of us to adopt them.
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