J500 Media and the Environment

Open Quiz, Insert Foot by Lauren Keith

Photo by Danarah, flickr.com

I had no idea how big 10 acres is. I looked it up and came up with about 7.5 football fields. I’m still not sure if I quite comprehend that measurement.

That’s a lot of football.

I feel like the ultimate hypocrite. I write a column for a student magazine (sorry, couldn’t resist) about how to live a greener lifestyle, but two Earths couldn’t even handle a population of people like me.

I had a feeling of déjà vu while taking this quiz, and I found another that I took months ago. The quiz by The Nature Conservancy is slightly different in that it only calculates your carbon footprint instead of your entire ecological footprint, but it made me feel slightly better about being a vegetarian (21 days!) and making recycling cans for everyone who even remotely comes in contact with me.

Of course, I can’t feel too great about myself because I’m still not a full-fledged vegetarian. I’ve allowed myself to eat seafood until February to wean myself off. I chose seafood because of all the meats, I eat the least of it, but that may not matter when I’m still contributing to the immanent collapse of fisheries within a few decades.

I hope people are shocked and maybe even appalled by their quiz results. But as for the general population, I’m not sure any of them would care much. Twenty acres, so what? This is the ME Generation, referring to both millennials and self-absorbed millennials. This is why some people can’t get in touch with environmentalism: How does this directly affect ME?

With this big of a footprint, I should kick my own ass.

—Lauren Keith

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4 Comments so far
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Lauren, This quiz wasn’t meant to make you feel guilty, but rather to push you/us to be a little more intentional. I really think you said it best: “Your brain. Always helpful when stepping out of the status quo.”
The best way we can lead, inspire and inform is by example. Knowing our own shortcomings, and admitting (even embracing) the fact that we aren’t green angels, is one way to build bridges and allow media consumers to join us in our eco-exploration.
I don’t want to feel preached to unless I’m in church, and I suspect your readers don’t either. Being human, having shortcomings, and recognizing we have the opportunity to do more can work in our favor as storytellers when we are trying to meet people where they are.

Simran Sethi

Comment by j500

I care about the environment because I feel it’s our obligation to leave this beautiful planet to our future generations. Sadly, not all people think like me. As you said, if things don’t affect their lives, they don’t care at all. Maybe to those people, economical incentives would be effective.

Sachiko M

Comment by sachikom

You care about environmental issues because you care about your legacy. We can appeal to other people’s interests by focusing on what they care about, too. Business incentives are high on that list for many.
The Worldwatch Institute puts out an annual State of the World report. Here are some relevant highlights for 2008 via Planet 2025:
* In 2006, an estimated $52 billion was invested in wind power, biofuels, and other renewable energy sources, up 33 percent from 2005. Preliminary estimates indicate that the figure soared as high as $66 billion in 2007.
* Carbon trading is growing even more explosively, reaching an estimated $30 billion in 2006, nearly triple the amount traded in 2005.
* Innovative companies are revolutionizing industrial production while also saving money: for example, chemical giant DuPont cut its greenhouse gas emissions 72 percent below 1991 levels by 2007, saving $3 billion in the process.
* Twenty-seven major corporations, including Alcoa, Dow Chemical, Duke Energy, General Motors, and Xerox, are actively urging the U.S. Congress to pass legislation regulating greenhouse gas emissions, something that would have been unthinkable two years ago.
* Another sign of dramatic change is the 575 environmental and energy hedge funds now in existence, most of them formed in the last few years. “Clean tech” has rapidly grown to be the world’s third-largest recipient of venture capital, trailing only the Internet and biotechnology.
*54 banks, representing 85 percent of global private project finance capacity, have endorsed the Equator Principles, a new international standard of sustainability investment.
(PS, I love your avatar!)

Simran Sethi

Comment by j500

This is actually the aspect of environmentalism/the green movement that I’m most interested in: how to show consumers and businesses that going green can save money because it reduces waste and excesses (money going out). It’s refreshing to read about such big companies taking the initiative to change their ways (and to them, keeping a bit more cash in their coffers).

Like a comment on another post, environmentalists don’t always “get along” with other groups (here, business interests) because both groups think that the other has differing goals, but really, we are striving for the same thing: businesses to make the bottom line (cutting costs, saving money) and environmentalists to save the planet (reduce waste).

Lauren Keith

Comment by laurenkeith

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