Acting locally

Our block is showing a lot of focus, energy and leadership toward “greener living.” We meet monthly and talk about what we might do as homeowners, and as a block. Most recently we came up with a good plan to do one tangible product per season. We’re planning a group-purchase rain barrel project, and planting our cul-de-sac with native plants for starters. We talked about exploring energy audits, mulching leaves locally, using less air conditioning, insulating our homes better.

Our meeting reminded me of a block party sans wine. We enjoy each others’ company and I think we enjoy having a reason to meet-and-greet more often than once a year.

Thinking globally

The Chicago Tribune’s article (5/2/07) on the “horror of global warning” and its impact on developing nations ?#34; especially Bangladesh ?#34; hit home. Frankly, I didn’t know much more about Bangladesh than what George Harrison sang about in the early 1970s. Then my son began dating a young woman from that country while they were both in college.

According to Tribune foreign correspondent Laurie Goering, people who have never driven a car, used an air conditioner or “done much of anything that produces greenhouse gases” are suffering the consequences of consumption by people (us) a world away. People are literally being swept away by cyclones and rising rivers due to global warming and greater glacial melt of the Himalayas. Bangladesh’s population of 140 million is packed into an area “slightly smaller than Illinois” and is one of the world’s most vulnerable places to climate change. Scientists say “it in many ways represents [the]?’perfect storm’ of challenges because it is extremely poor, extremely populated and extremely susceptible.”

And somehow I could not shake off the extreme juxtaposition of turning off lights or changing bulbs, inflating our tires properly or swapping out our gas lawnmowers for electric with the idea of moving tin and bamboo houses repeatedly to escape encroaching waters. As passionate as I am about our green efforts and the need for change in this country, it seems a little puny when we must save the low-lying countries like Bangladesh a world away.

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