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How does one become an environmental activist?

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I just watched Democracy Now and Amy Goodman said something like only 47% of Americans believe in global warming. That is so depressing! I wish I could inform people or just do something, but I have no idea what to do. I know I can do things like pick up trash and ride my bike and things like that, but how can I inform people? What can I do? Help?
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Become informed.
The issues concerning the environment are as broad as they are deep. I use the term 'drinking from a firehouse' when I refer to learning about the ways we have impacted the environment. Every part of our planet is affected: The ozone, the stratusphere, the air we beathe, the oceans, lakes, rivers and our own private wells, the soils in every part of the world, even down to the DNA of the plants we depend on for survival. Species are disappearing, diversity is shrinking, balance is tilting. It used to be Save the Whale, now its Save our Planet. You must understand the causes for the problems before you can come up with a solution.

Share and Discuss.
This phase brings you in contact with others who understand the nature of the problems before us. There are seminars and speakers out there who are more than willing to share their knowledge. Books, articles and blogs abound and many provide a forum for hashing out topics of discussion.

Take Part
Getting involved in the environmental movement and the interacting with the people who are passionate will build your enthusiasm and expose you to the process of changing the world. Chaining yourself to a tree is not what its all about. It won't save that tree or change the world and you'll probably catch a cold. Effective action changes the way people think. It changes their attitude. That's what changes a vote. Change the vote and you can change the world.

Saving the world is a daunting challenge. The way we have organized ourselves, our societies and our governments was developed over thousands of years. There was no master plan which led us here. Mostly it was people just trying to get by, societies struggling to grow, and laws put in place to maintain the peace. Nobody meant to poison the air. They did not try to pollute the water. Machines really seemed like a good idea at the time. For most of our history, there were not that many of us, our population kept in check by disease and famine, but who wants to be sick and hungry all the time. We only wanted a better life for ourselves and our kids. One thing led to another; It is our nature to strive for a better life. While our numbers were small, the planet could tolerate our ways. Only in the last couple of centuries have improvements such as germ theory, industrial agriculture, and global trade given us the means to increase our numbers to such an extent that we have outgrown the planets ability to absorb our impact. Technological hubris has blinded us to our shortcomings. The separation of cause and effect is decades long, with our leadership focused only on short term events. There is no single person to blame, yet we all share the responsibility for our planet. To our credit, we have developed science, technology, and information systems into a global force which we can use to our advantage.

I am reminded of the Pogo cartoon strip from Earthday 1971

To base an exponentially growing economy on the consumption of finite resources is inherently flawed, and absolutely unsustainable. This means it must end at some point. We must reinvent ourselves, if we are to continue. The way we organize ourselves, lead our lives, feed ourselves, heat our homes, dress, move, trade-all of it. The world is small, so some things will simply have to go: vanity, selfishness, pettyness, arrogance, greed, hate, and war. We can't compete for resources, rather, we must learn to share what resources remain and put them to the best use of the world. Not just the human world, but the plants and animals, wind and sea must also be included as equal partners, lest we destroy that which we depend on for our future.

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