Climate change 2008 itsy-bitsy synopsis. Read it.
For those of you who don't know, or don't care: our so-called leaders keep on saying that we can make small incremental changes that will mitigate climate change. At least this is what the meetings at Poznan would have us swallow. Riiiiiiight. Just like you can staunch the flow of blood from a severed limb by applying small band-aids one at a time, slowly, and without too much effort. Moving to a more concrete and relevant example: you do not stop climate change by switching to energy efficient lightbulbs and by recycling the packaging from your overpackaged, unnecessary shit. The kind of half-assed and ineffective measures that people are taking in the name of "do what you can without actually changing any of the big stuff" are exactly that: half-assed and ineffective, at least on their own. If you don't care enough about your home (ie, the entire planet) to actually make real changes, then how can you expect real change to come about?
Let me try an analogy. The planet is warming, and weather is becoming more and more unpredictable at some rate. Let's call this rate Fucking Fast (FF). Now, we are in a metaphorical footrace with FF, and want to win. If we move Fucking Slow (FS), FF will outrun us, and we will lose. FF will not negotiate with us, and will not slow down (in fact, it's accelerating). Either we speed up enough to keep up, or we lose. Right now, we're losing, and refusing to speed up. And idiotically, we're pretending that we can win with such a strategy.
Frankly, the answers are simple. They probably cost money, and require a dip in our ridiculously high standards of living and consumerism in the developped world. But frankly, the planet will not negotiate with you (or me, or the president of the US, or the head of any multinational corporation, no matter how rich) on this one. Either we smarten up, or it might stop playing nice with us. Cutting into "economic growth" kinda sucks, but not having a habitable planet sucks worse. And like I said, while leaders sit on their thumbs at these international meetings "negotiating", they forget that the planet and it's climate won't negotiate. Either we put in less greenhouse gas than the planet can absorb, or we risk whatever it has in store for us when the surplus gasses stay in the atmosphere (where we put them, remember).
Here are some *real* changes you can make (along with your lightbulbs and your recycling):
Go vegan. Animal agriculture is the single biggest emitter of greenhouse gasses. Plus, it takes more energy at every level to make animals and get them to your dinner plate than it does to make plants. And don't give me that "local meat" bullshit. If you really think that current levels of meat consumption can be sustained using local, small-scale operations, you're wrong.
Stop driving. Even if it means you have to get up a whole 15 or 30 minutes earlier to bus or subway to work. If you're just too damn important to waste 15 minutes of your valuable time, consider getting an ego reduction. If you live somewhere with no public transportation, organize some carpooling, and lobby for public transportation.
Buy less stuff. Buy used stuff. Fix your old stuff, or pay someone to fix it for you. Freecycle.
Vacation near your home. Go camping. Take a bus or train to a nearby city and explore it.
Pressure politicians at local and national levels. Lobby for bike lanes, better public transportation, and community recycling/composting . Ask that governments actually commit to taking action on climate-change related issues.