Opinion: Green remodeling is despair defeated

ExportbaliHere’s my take on this greenhouse gas/global warming deal:

It’s hard for some of us to know what to think. The vast majority of scientists say greenhouse gases from human activity are causing, and will continue to cause, catastrophic climate change, with the world’s poor suffering the most.

On the other hand, radio hosts tell millions of their followers that human activity has no effect on global warming.

So we must come to our own conclusions. I’ll stick with the scientists. And I want to know how I can do my part in turning this thing around.

Thomas Friedman’s opinion column in the Sunday New York Times, based on the recent climate talks in Bali, focused on the juggernaut of global commerce that he likens to "a monster truck with the gas pedal stuck, and we’ve lost the key — so no one can stop it from wiping out more and more of the natural world, no matter what the global plan."

The essay continues:

Indonesia is now losing tropical forests the size of Maryland every year, and the carbon released by the cutting and clearing — much of it from illegal logging — has made Indonesia the third largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the world, after the United States and China. Deforestation actually accounts for more greenhouse gas emissions than all the cars and trucks in the world, an issue the Bali conference finally addressed.

Barnabas Suebu, the governor of the Indonesian province of Papua, "waxed eloquent," Friedman wrote, "about how difficult it is to create jobs that will give his villagers anything close to the income they can get from chopping down a tree and selling it to smugglers, who will ship it to Malaysia or China to be made into furniture for Americans or Europeans."

Here’s how it works for me: As I consider the new flooring for my living room, will I choose some great deal on Indonesian hardwood of unknown origin and pretend I don’t know that my choice is contributing to the deforestation tragedy? Or will I spend a few bucks more to buy wood from a forest certified to be sustainably operated? This is my moment.

One good thing about all this: I now understand how ancient, great civilizations failed. A juggernaut was set into place that could not be stopped.

I don’t know if humankind will pass this test. I only know that I want to.

(Photo courtesy of Export Bali)

2 Comments on Opinion: Green remodeling is despair defeated

  1. tarbubble

    or you could just swear off of wood floors altogether. it’s a cop-out to say “i can’t afford to make a difference, and besides i’m only one person, so i’m a drop in the bucket.” masses are made up of individuals. it’s not just your choice in flooring. it’s your choice in everything. are you going to be a part of the mass that makes sacrifices for the good of all, or are you going to be in the mass that says “it’s too much trouble to think of my effects on others?”
    and by all means, don’t reproduce. instead, adopt a child — the thoughtless masses keep having them, you know.

  2. norcal girl

    I’ll be frank. My task is to remodel my house aesthetically and afford it. I would like to buy the sustainably grown or the recycled flooring, but I probably can’t afford it, except for bamboo, which I saw in a local green building tour and didn’t like at all aesthetically, at least not the particular product that was used.
    As individuals, frankly, we are constrained financially, and I think it is an extreme distraction to focus our attention thinking that we are the main players, because we are not. It’s great for large organizations, as they build, to make sustainable materials choices, but for middle-class individuals to think that our choice of flooring makes or breaks the planet, it doesn’t. If governments want to help, they can provide tax breaks for sustainable choices in materials.
    It’s very culturally American to think that as an individual you are that significant.
    In the meantime, the best green choice anyone can make, that may not be as much of a ‘feel-good’ but will accomplish far more, is not reproducing. At all. Because each child you birth will spawn more, and those more. And it’s population pressures that have led to all of this.
    See? People don’t want to hear this. But, it’s the case.