I am on the whole I sceptical of “individual effort” as the key call from politicians for addressing climate change: it becomes an excuse not to address the major systemic changes we need, like replanning cities to reduce urban sprawl, making public transport a viable option for those who own cars, and replacing coal-based power generation by clean energy. Nonetheless individual effort has a role: those who care enough can set an example, and when enough people care, political action follows. I lived in Australia for 9 years, and when enough ordinary people were fed up with politics as usual, the political side of the Green movement grew to the extent that today, the Greens hold the balance of power in the federal parliament as well as in the Tasmanian state government. As a result, we are seeing real action there, like feed-in tariffs for clean energy and a carbon tax.
In any case, the reality is that as energy becomes more expensive, buying local makes increasing sense, and this will happen as fossil fuels deplete, no matter what governments do about climate change. Add to that the community-building effect of more local employment, and meeting people when you go out to a local market, and buying local has a lot to recommend it. This sort of change is something we can all work for, and have fun doing so. In a small town, we can set an example on a small scale for others to follow. And building consciousness of the environmental cause is not all about protests, petitions and politics. We need to have fun, and demonstrate that the alternative lifestyle we promote is something everyone can live with.
|Bread as it should be|
|The bread line|
|queuing for fish|
|Not the Monty Python cheese shop|
Adapting to climate change and peak oil isn’t all bad, if it forces the end of car-centric shopping. We could all be fitter, healthier, enjoy shopping more, and live in a happier community with less unemployment.
|Jam with a smile|
For a start, patronise the existing market, and small shops, rather than do all your shopping at a chain supermarket. Walk or cycle to the shops: unless you are picking up something heavy, this is easy for most residents (though suburban sprawl has hit the outlying areas). Also it would be a useful project to promote urban gardening, especially among the poorer people of our town. If they had access to a market, it would add to their income, adding to the general happiness and well-being of our town.