I frequently hear from people who agree with me, and want to know what they can do to help. Here are some ideas:
Help publicize my web pages and the ideas they contain. Create a link to my web page(s).
Everywhere you go, ask embarrassing questions that make people think about these issues. Recently I spoke to a high school class in Japan, where my friend teaches. I asked the students some basic questions that they probably wouldn't otherwise think or talk about:
1. Who owns the Earth? (wildlife; they have been here maybe 1000 to 100,000 times as long as we have)
2. Where can wildlife live? (nowhere; there aren't any areas where they can live free from intrusion by humans)
3. Why do we build freeways? (to let us drive somewhere a few minutes faster; the cost is all the wildlands and farmlands destroyed in the process, nearby crops contaminated, noise pollution, water pollution, etc.)
4. When will we run out of oil? (by 2010-2020 in the U.S.; 2040 in the rest of the world)
5. How can we live sustainably? (it is impossible, since we have to kill to eat; the best we can do is to minimize our impacts)
6. What is the value of wildlife? (they are priceless; everything we need (e.g. food and clean air and water), and everything we enjoy (being in or near natural areas), is based on wildlife)
7. Where does clean air come from? (green plants filter pollutants out of the air; humans don't have the capability of doing this on a large enough scale)
8. Where does most of our oxygen come from? (algae & bacteria in the ocean)
9. Where does clean water come from? (bacteria and algae clean the water; humans don't have the capability of doing this on a large enough scale)
10. Who cleans up cow poop? (dung beetles)
11. Where does food come from? (from native animals and plants, which are the source of the species that we have domesticated; they need to be protected, in case the domesticated species, which are genetically uniform, succumb to disease or other disaster)
12. Where do our medicines come from? (most were derived from plants)
13. Who pollinates most of our food? (bees)
14. What are the problems caused by mountain biking? (accelerating erosion, creating V-shaped ruts that make the trails unusable, killing small animals and plants on and next to the trail, driving wildlife -- and other trail users -- out of our parks, and teaching kids that the rough treatment of nature is acceptable, when it's NOT!)
My best experience was in a college class in Chennai (Madras),
India. I explained how I used to think (as a kid) that insects belong outside,
& were okay to kill if they were in the house. Now I never kill
them, but figure out how to shoo flies out without hurting them. A girl in the
front row asked "what is the value of one fly?" I could write a book
on that! And probably should. I said that his life is obviously of great value,
to him. But I think a better answer would have been that if any life
is of value, then all life is of value.
A friend calls this "Guerilla Questioning". She also goes into schools and asks fundamental questions. Here are her questions:
1. What do you think is the biggest problem facing the world? (If they fail to mention the environment: What about the environment?)
2. What do you think needs to be done about it?
3. What can you do about it?
4. Where do you get your hope and courage in the face of these problems?
5. How has it been talking to me about this?
You can start just about anywhere you like. Protecting wildlife is not a job that can accomplished by one person, one organization, one company, or one government agency. Everyone has a part to play, and needs to do his or her part.
Talk to the managers of your local parks and open spaces. Make sure that they give top priority to the protection of wildlife and wildlife habitat, and restrict recreation to as little as possible. In particular, make sure that only low-impact recreation (i.e., walking) is allowed. Vehicles, such as mountain bikes, mountain boards, etc. have no place in our parks, where they destroy wildlife and habitat and make it too easy for people to invade wildlife habitat. The same goes for dogs and other exotic species. Please help keep them out of our parks!
Ways to save energy, carbon, or pollution – NOW!:
1. Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs – especially those you leave on for an extended period. LEDs may be even better. Fluorescent bulbs may contain mercury, so dispose of them properly.
2. Use a clothesline whenever possible to dry clothes.
3. Walk, bicycle, or use public transit instead of driving a motor vehicle.
4. Put a solar water heater or photovoltaic array on your roof. Besides saving electricity, it helps keep the house cool. Lobby to get photovoltaics installed over all of our roads, where they won't shade any wildlife habitat. Rumor has it that Israel has invented a new, cheaper, more efficient form of PV that uses a metal instead of silicon.
5. Grow your own food. Not only will you save energy, but you will be able to eat fresh, organic fruit, vegetables, and maybe even a few chickens, if you are so inclined. In general, eat food that is grown locally.
6. Paint your house white (in southern climates, to absorb less heat from the sun) or dark (in northern climates, to absorb more heat from the sun). Plant deciduous trees on the south side of the house to provide shade in the summer.
7. Turn off the pilot light on your heater during the months (March-November?) when you don't need it.
8. Insulate your house in the attic, below the floor, and in the walls, preferably with recycled cotton denim insulation (unless being flammable is a problem).
9. Put an insulated blanket on your hot water heater. Putting insulated curtains on the outside of west facing windows to minimize summer heat gain (shutters or awnings work also).
10. Have no more than 1 or 2 children.
11. Buy only what you really need: reduce, reuse, repair, recycle.
12. Don't eat beef. Raising cows is very energy-intensive.
13. Turn down your thermostat. You may be surprised (I was) to be able to tolerate indoor temperatures as low as 55. At night, you can probably turn the thermostat off (all the way down).
14. Minimize the amount of energy used in cooking. Eat raw rather than cooked, steamed (heating a small amount of water) rather than boiled, fried rather than baked.
15. Minimize the amount of water used in bathing. Use the shower rather than bathtub. Wet yourself, turn the water off while shampooing and washing, then rinse briefly.
16. Put a 5-gallon bucket in the kitchen and one in the bathtub. Collect your "grey water" from washing dishes and showering, and give it to your fruit trees. They will be very happy, and you will have much more fruit – so much that you'll have to give a lot of it away to your neighbors!
17. Share your energy-saving ideas as widely as possible.
I welcome other suggestions. I will update this document as I get new ideas.