We get our information from a variety of sources and examine it through our individual (often different) lenses on the world.
My husband was a biology major in college. He hails from a long line of physicians.
This background gives him confidence in his assessments of scientific matters.
He also listens to a lot of National Public Radio.
I am a reader. I have zero family background in the sciences, although my musician father did hold a bachelor of science degree in Naval Studies and worked for some time as a Navy code-breaker... something I find to be quite cool.
So my claim to understanding anything scientific comes mainly from reading. I read websites, newspapers, government publications, scientific studies in their original form ~ and I pay special attention to the Cochrane Review which aggregates studies and provides a meta-analysis of various issues.
One of our recurring environmental debates has surrounded the issue of transportation.
Which form of mass transportation (whether moving goods or people) is least harmful to the Earth?
We've gone many rounds over this one, with my husband insisting that air travel is the most efficient and me taking the stance that a filled passenger train or bus is better for the Earth than an airplane.
(I'm sure everyone talks about this stuff over dinner, right?) :-)
Recently we got smart and finally asked the person we both trust most on the issue, my husband's brother, for the real answer.
Ewan* is a sought-after sustainability manager who holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Earth Systems along with a Master of Science degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering. Not to mention, he's a freaking genius and an all-around great guy.
So, if anyone knows the real answer about the environmental dilemmas we tussle over, Ewan would be that person. My husband and I take his word as gospel, and we enjoy bringing our environmental questions to him.
Happily, in terms of the transportation efficiency debate Ewan affirmed my view about buses vs. airplanes ~ giving us a very thoughtful, scientific, articulate explanation ~ and now my husband owes me dinner.
(Hey honey, I like French food!)
We've brought lots of sustainability questions to Ewan over the years, asking about such things as:
- Does it really make a difference to the Earth to buy local or organic?
- How can we reduce our family energy consumption?
- How can we become more efficient in our water usage?
- Grocery bags - paper or plastic or bring-your-own... which exploits the most resources?
I love the way he always has an answer which goes far beyond the original question, examining our small family dilemmas from more of a global and long-term perspective.
In all honestly we've both had trouble sticking day-to-day with some of the practical, Earth-friendly housekeeping advice he's given us along the way... but at least my husband and I both know that Ewan is right and we are grateful that he frequently opens our eyes to deeper truths about our consumption as a family.
Today, Ewan sent me a link to the most wonderful blog... something recently designed by two of his friends to communicate solid environmental choices to everyday folks. They've only just begun to post but already I am incredibly impressed with OroEco (oro = gold, eco = green). I love their tagline, Turning Green to Gold.
Their most recent post about the virtues of buying local vs. organic vs. eating less red meat was eye-opening to say the least. I highly recommend reading through it, as it gives a point of view based on hard facts that I would not have guessed.
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I've always felt that the environment (and how we modify our human behaviors to protect and support it) is crucial to our species.
In the end nothing else really matters if we drive other species into extinction and cause our planet to become uninhabitable by human beings.
Who will care about social security if people lose their ability to reproduce thanks to contaminated soil and water? Who will worry about taxes if the human race can no longer breathe the air within our planet's atmosphere?
I think one could argue that climate protection and environmental support NOW is the greatest "Social Security" we could leave behind for our grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
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365 days of meaning is designed to be give a unique voice to my own perspective about the meaning of life, so that I can forever share my own thoughts and beliefs with my three children.
For today, the meaning of life is to learn how to be a better custodian of our natural world and all of its abundance.
Humans haven't completely ruined the Earth or its delicate ecological balance yet... it's not too late (or too hard) to do our part as individuals and family members to make things better.
Today I walked my son to school rather than driving him ~ saving gasoline, money and reducing emissions into the atmosphere. We also got some great exercise... so as we save the Earth, we also extend our own health and lives.
The way I see it, that's a Win-Win.
This morning my two year old picked out her own clothes to wear for the day. She chose a recycled bright orange t-shirt (a hand-me-down from her older brother!) with the picture of an ice cream shaped Earth melting from the top of a sugar cone.
"Save some for me!"
*Name changed to protect the privacy of the party mentioned