22 April 2007

Earthday Sounds

Earth DayImage by Fabrice ROSE via FlickrToday is Earthday. I don't know exactly how I'll be observing the occasion. People have organized activities all over the community: planting trees, removing non-native vegetation, cleaning up litter. Maybe I'll pitch in. Honestly, you're just as likely to find me weeding my own garden, and very likely running upon the earth at my regular pick-up soccer game.

But I'll also be thinking about our impact on the planet. Even if you're one of the hard-headed skeptics who doesn't believe humans are causing climate change, you may find your eyes opened a bit by a quick little quiz that tells you one simple thing.

The Earth Day Footprint Quiz takes a couple of minutes, and gives you a simple two-part result. It estimates how many acres of the planet are needed to support your lifestyle. And it tells you how much land (measured in planets) it would take for everyone on earth to live like you.

I try to live fairly simply, sharing a car and living near a city. I walk, bike, and ride public transportation as often as I drive. Our house is heated primarily by (renewable) wood pellets, we've got fluorescent bulbs in most fixtures, we cook mostly from scratch and largely from local organic produce. And yet...well, you can see the results for yourself.

The anticipated effects of climate change are starting to have an impact right down to the local level. Our city government recently voted to build a new city hall on land near the port, filled land that's just a few feet above sea level. After considering the possibility of flooding due to rising sea levels, they decided to spend an extra half-million dollars to raise the building by one foot. That's just a Band-Aid for a symptom, of course, but a recent meeting of government and other leaders addressed more proactive steps, including reducing our state's greenhouse gas emissions, creating new jobs in clean-energy industries, and reducing consumption of imported fuel.

So take the quiz, plant some trees, cut your consumption, and think ahead. 'Cause I don't see any way we're going to have 3.2 planets to farm in the near future. Quite the contrary, we're losing islands and coastal land to rising sea levels and the resulting erosion and salt infiltration that makes the soil unusable.

The Solomon Islands are one group of Pacific islands thus affected. Here's a song from the island of Savo, a small volcanic island near Guadalcanal Island.

[mp3] Vinango (Voyage By Canoe)
performed by a lalaa, a traditional chorus of both men and women
from the wonderful but out-of-print compilation Voices of Forgotten Worlds
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