In 2010 it is undeniable that we live in an Augustine era. For those of you unfamilar with the term Augustine; it refers to Ancient Rome. It was during this historical era, that much like now, the speed of progress was so rapid-fire that it was often dizzying to the point of cultural anomie for those in the midst of it.
As a twentysomething I am part of the first generational cohort to be raised exclusively on: personal computers, video game consoles, wireless networks, smartphones and social media and networking tools. These tools have had a profound impact on our collective consciousness; it has changed the way we communicate with one another on a daily basis. This being true, even I as a member of Generation Y, I feel like a technological laggard compared with those children in the post-millennial demographic. The Post Millennials, for my definitional purposes are the children who were born to members of Generation X. These kids have often made their first website by the time their 12 and their first tweet even earlier; all the while, well I’m struggling to complete and send a text message on my four year old motorola cellphone!
It is true that we live in an Augustine Era but that the same time we live in very uncertain times.
So what is a man, suffering and or recovering from a quarter life crisis (I’m not quite sure, as to which category I fall into at the present moment) to do in these uncertain times of great change and progress? I came of age in a post 9/11 world, were even your next door neighbour could be a terrorist, this according to the Karl Roves and George Bushes of the world. Furthermore, while my mother and father’s generation had to deal with the stress and pyschological unease of nuclear annilihation.
My long-term girlfriend and I, 23 and 25 respectfully; both have the weight of the world on our shoulders at present. We have to cope with the twin global problems of entering an uncertain job market that is still struggling to recover from the recession. Despite the assurances of my Prime Minister, statistically speaking it is twentysomethings that have been most hurt by the global recession of 2008-2009. Worse still is the almost post-apocalyptic coming from the scientific community, regarding the impending climate crisis threat . According to world famous climatologists such as Dr. Andrew Weaver, from the University of Victoria and Dr. James Hansen of NASA, we only have a six year window to clean up our act and get out greenhouse gas emissions under control. If global GHG (Greenhouse Gas Emissions) emissions do not peak by 2016 and continue to drop until 2050 where we are effectively living in carbon neutral global economy, then we are screwed. At this point we can look forward to the advancement of catastrophic climate change. This is a term for climate change related effects, that are self-perpetuating and do not require any human involvement to be exceedingly destructive.
But before, you log out of my blog and disregard my opinions as those espoused only by the lunatic left consider the following. Malcom Gladwell, author of the acclaimed book the Tipping Point was the first academic, to arguably research and write about the concept of social change and critical mass. Galdwells’ thesis essentially states that in response to major world events, early adopters will arise and begin to advocate and or participate in new social movements. These early adopters participation will gather steam by realigning social movements from the fringe to the mainstream. This often accomplishes profound social change. Consider historically Rosa Parks, refusal on December 1st 1955 to move from the front of the bus to the back of the bus to make room for a white passenger. This act of civil disobedience in Montgomery, Alabama gave birth to a new epoch: the racial equality movement. If it wasn’t for Rosa Parks we wouldn’t have seen the Montgomery Bus Boycott and subsquently, although later on the March on Washington on August 28, 1963. It was at this demonstration that Martin Luther King Jr. made his now historic and soul moving: ” I have a dream speech.” Arguably if it wasn’t for that speech we wouldn’t now have a black president on the otherside of the 39th parrallel in 2010.
Just as the Montgomery Alabama Bus Boycott lead to the On to Washington March so to did Myspace clear a path for the creation and global widespread usage of facebook and arguably the birth of Twitter. If it wasn’t for Facebook status updates would we have Twitter right now? Furthermore would have a seize fire have been declared in the Battle of Bangkok last month, if it weren’t for the dozens of tweets being made from the red-shirts protestors and foreign journalists holed up and under attack in that now famous Bangkok Buddhist sanctuary?
So what is the point you may ask? Well it is true that there are many things to decry in this world for being unfair, unjust or down right criminal but conversally there is reason to be hopeful for the future. For instance, since the release of Michael Pollan’s the Omnivore’s Dilemma- the percentage of backyard vegetable gardeners across North America has skyrocketed. This has therefore necessitated a response from mainstream food producers and grocers to adopt and expand organic and 100 mile diet prepared food stuffs.
So with the fallout from the estimated 21-46 million gallons of oil, that has leaked out of the oil rig the Deepwater Horizon now literally blanketing and suffocating the Gulf Coast, will we see a shift in public opinion and action towards adopting greener lifestyles? I think so. With an event so catastrophic as the one just recounted, how can we turn a blind eye? We must reduce our dependency on crude oil and transition into a new solar powered economy within the next 10-15 years. This is the only logical solution, that can be derived from an accident by British Petroleum. An accident that has been so devastating, that it has literally wiped out an entire fishery and a way of life. The only other comparison that I can make to the total collapse of a fishing industry is closure of the cod and halibut fisheries off of the Grand Banks coastline in Newfoundland and Labrador in the early 1990s. This caused fundamental change and a reorientation in Atlantic Canada away from resource extraction to increased eco tourism in the region. Perhaps the same will be true for the residents and businesses along the Gulf Coast in the years and decades to come. Only time will tell.
So to conclude, I invite you to take a journey with me. This is a journey for self-improvement and societal betterment; together I hope we can learn and share ideas and strategies as to how to best lead a lower carbon lifestyle. I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I am willing to learn. Stay tuned to my next post regarding how to green your laundry day experience. This is Stafford signing out for today and reminding you that I’ll continue to tread lightly with you in spirit. Until the next post, take care.