Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day, let's get small

Two days ahead of the 40th annual Earth Day today, Bill McKibben took the stage of Town Hall Seattle to rally the troops and call for a new action event.

Twenty years ago the author, educator, environmentalist wrote The End of Nature, one of the earliest warnings about global warming. His latest book is Eaarth. “The title deliberately has two a’s, you have to channel Governor Aaarnold when you say it,” McKibben joked. He then explained the deliberate re-spelling emphasizes the idea that we’re living on a “new” planet that requires a new way of living on Earth.

“I don’t wish to be a professional bummer-outer but we’re past the tipping point, so what do we do now?” he asked the audience. “We’ve all changed our light bulbs, but that’s not going to stop climate change. The Arctic ice has melted and the sea is 30% more acidic.”

The critical issue the planet faces today is summed up in the popular phrase about things too big to fail. We have got to kick the habit of rushing after constant growth and letting things get too big to fail, McKibben said. “Too big to fail? Too big to fail, means it’s too big. Growth is a hard habit to kick. We’ve got to think more ‘sturdy,’ ‘stable,’ more husband, less boyfriend.”

Living on this new planet, we have got to become smaller. One of the ways that we become smaller that hit me in the gut because I love my local produce: neighborhood farmers markets. We are on our way, McKibben said, but not there yet, when buying all your food from the farmer, rancher, fisherman that you meet and greet every week is not just the environmentally sound thing to do, it’s just what we do to eat good food.

And on that same night, just a few miles away at Kane Hall on the University of Washington campus, Joel Salatin was preaching a similar gospel. Maybe there is hope for this planet after all.

Check out the site for details on their next great global event, 2010 is the Year We Get to Work.

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