My New Book!

My New Book!
My New Book!

Friday, June 9, 2023

June 9, 2023: Environmental Activisms: All of Us

[This summer, my older son is extending his prior efforts to help combat climate change by interning with the amazing Climate Just Cities project. That project is part of the long legacy of American environmental activism, so this week I’ll highlight a handful of such activisms. Leading up to a special weekend post on Climate Just Cities!]

On three ways we can all be environmental activists in 2023.

1)      Meat: As I wrote in this Thanksgiving post on the wonderful vegan meal delivery company Purple Carrot, I’m not the proselytizing type of vegetarian, and I’m going to hold myself to that same standard here. I won’t even quote at length from my younger son’s amazing and entirely convincing persuasive essay (also mentioned in that post) on how the meat industry contributes to the climate crisis. Instead, I’ll just say this: in the last few years, vegetarian and vegan meat alternatives (as well as cheese substitutes and the like) have become so, so much tastier than they had been, as well as far more numerous and diverse. (Seriously—I couldn’t even stomach most of them a few years back, and now my sons and I have so many favorites, like these Field Roast plant-based sausages to name just one.) I’m not telling anyone what to do, and I’m far from a purist or absolutist in my own diet or choices; but if every one of us made even a small effort to reduce our meat consumption, the effects would be real and significant.

2)      Cars: Look, I know that hybrid and electric vehicles remain more expensive than their gas-guzzling counterparts; I believe the gap has been lessened in recent years, but it still exists, and reflects the complex roles that wealth and class play in movements like environmental activism and justice. But I also know that in my situation, as someone with a substantial commute, the Prius I bought in 2021 had already paid for itself in gas savings within its first year, so I do believe that economics and environmentalism can and do go hand-in-hand when it comes to our transportation decisions. And if a hybrid or electric vehicle isn’t feasible, it seems to me that far more of us (and I’m certainly including myself in this mix) could do a much better job with carpooling, taking public transportation, and otherwise working to reduce what is without question the biggest carbon footprint in most of our daily lives.

3)      Pressure: I can already hear a clear and understandable response to those first two items: “No matter what individual actions I take, they will always be dwarfed by the role that governments have to play in producing real change.” I don’t think it’s either/or, and indeed would argue that any perspective which minimizes what each individual can and should do reflects a level of cynicism that I find not only counter-productive but ultimately hugely damaging for our collective future. But at the same time, yes, far bigger actions have to be taken if we are to really start to confront and respond to the defining crisis of all our lifetimes. Can we use our voices and pressure to influence those bigger actions and the governments and other global entities that need to take them? In response, and to close this post and series, I’ll quote Don Henley’s “Inside Job”: “Insect politics/Indifferent universe/Bang your head against the wall/But apathy is worse.”

Special post this weekend,


PS. What do you think? American environmental voices or efforts you’d highlight?

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