Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Education not Legislation

I’m off to New York this morning, flying of course, global warming be damned. Sometimes you need to fly; at least I guess you do, to get from point A to point B. But the time on a plane has some great benefits, like a few hours where communication is completely cut-off and I can work on whatever I want. I’ve been mulling over this entry/writing for a few days and just not had time to write it down, so I’ll take the time on the plane to get it written.

Part of the problem with trying to write is the issue of when do I have time to write? I tend to do most of my thinking while I’m out riding which very much limits my ability to write anything down at the same time. When I’m not out riding I tend to be working, which although in front of a computer hasn’t allowed much free time for composing recently or with Shay and Ade. Time with Shay and Ade may allow a few free moments here and there to write, but not a prolonged period of time to think. Maybe I’ll have to invent some sort of computer interface that will allow me to telepathically transpose my thoughts while riding.

But onwards, as Earth Day this past weekend, teaching Shay’s class about how they can protect the environment and meeting with Diana DeGette’s office the previous week have gotten me thinking about what we need to do to really make changes to the way we live in an effort to protect the environment. When I went to DeGette’s office there was a great deal of talk about legislating and requiring people to use electric cars etc. And while legislation may (and probably will) play a role in protecting the earth it is not what is needed at this time.

Legislation without education will lead to extreme opposition to the efforts being made and will ultimately fail. However, legislation coupled with (or proceeded by) education will lead to real change. When I was in front of a group of five and six year olds talking about recycling and how to help the earth not get sick I really felt that the kids were listening and wanting to help. Since that time, Seamus has been picking up liter on the streets, trying to recycle, and drawing on both sides of paper. Admittedly all small steps, but the little things we can all do to help the environment. In fifteen or twenty years (with continued reinforcement) will Seamus buy into and agree with legislation to protect the environment? Hell yes, not only will he buy into it he will require stringent legislation. He will require companies, the products he buys, to take environmental stewardship seriously.

The only problem with this is Seamus is just one kid, or at a max his class is only 20 kids, and it will take 20 years before they are in a position to effect change and we must act now. So we must accelerate education, not just for children but for adults. When I first started this effort I undertook a huge effort to read and educate myself. In a small way I hope to be teaching people through this effort, though I know my posts are limited at best for education content, but even if I can’t educate hopefully each of you will start thinking about the environment and take the time to educate yourselves. Since I concocted this idea in November I’ve learned what greenhouse gases our, Ade has learned what fossil fuels are, Seamus has learned that he can help make the earth not die. I’ve bought into the information I’ve read, I believe that at least in part humans are causing harm to the environment and that with our own efforts we can help to make changes, educate our friends and most importantly educate our elected officials about the importance of environmental issues so that the legislation they create is supported, strong and most importantly helpful to the environment.
I wish I had more time to help educate, and I will try throughout the course of this season, but each of you must make the effort on your own. I can recommend reading, starting with Al Gore’s An Inconevient Truth (or if you are lazy watch it). Other books include A Field Guide to Catastrophe, Bush Versus the Environment. Web sites from Environmental Defense, League of Conservation Voters, Natural Resource Defense Council,, and the Sierra Club all offer huge amounts of information. Take time to read and review, take time to learn and educate yourself and educate others. Then start making the small steps like Seamus has to protect the environment. Start to ride your bike, use canvas bags for grocery trips, next time a clerk offers you a bag turn it down, use a manual lawn mower, bring your own mug to the coffee shop, pick up the trash on the street, force your schools and offices to implement recycling programs. Finally once you feel comfortable with the changes that need to be made write your elected officials, harass presidential candidates, make environmental issues front and center in politics, but base the issues on facts and legislation on efforts that will work and help. Legislation will play a critical role in the end to protect the environment, but unfounded legislation (legislation that has no broad based support or understanding) will not work. So, what have you done to protect the environment today?

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