Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Bill McKibben on climate threat to localism; "we've got to work globally."

Should local-first advocates also help tackle global climate change? On Sunday night in a taped discussion, Bill McKibben told us yes -- "The only thing that can derail this [localism] revolution is how we're degrading the planet." He pointed out that the extreme weather which hit Vermont (in 2010(?)) "washed away the local farms" that had taken 20 years or more to build up. "So we've got to work globally, which is what 350.org is for."

McKibben appeared with 3 others -- public radio host and TED talker Majora Carter, an owner of the business making the brownies in Ben and Jerry's ice cream, and filmmaker David Brancaccio -- in a taped panel discussion following a live local-panel discussion which itself followed Brancaccio's film Fixing the Future, which played Sunday night at the Nevada Theatre.

 (Much like Janaia Donaldson's TV series Peak Moment, Brancaccio had filmed highlights of his local-community-projects U.S., road trip, covering community-bootstrapping efforts like time banks, business co-ops and the like.)

When Brancaccio later asked McKibben (paraphrased), "You spend so much time working on this big global problem; when you see these [localism] stories,... are you saying "why talk about these local efforts?", McKibben's response pulled away to the larget issue: "it's true, we also need to act on a global scale;" to "provede some margin so we can make this transition" to local-based projects.


gzaller said...

I've had a little difficulty reconciling the buy local movement within the global context.

It helps me to look at how life works on the planet. It is efficient. Local production does out compete carbon intensive mass produced centralized distribution in the long run. Unfortunately addiction to cheap energy in this desperate moment in geological time has blinded us to this fact. In my view we can only rescue ourselves by learning to see our addiction for what it is and gaining a compassion for all life, humans included.

Michael R. Kesti said...

Yes, nature is very efficient. For most life on this planet only the most fit survive. The weak and the sick are consumed by predators and scavengers and even the fit are subject to parasites. Only we humans have developed the ability to allow the lives of the prematurely born and the elderly to continue.

So, I find that nature's efficiency in no way justifies limiting people to only food that can be harvested locally. Instead, I see transportation systems that, for example, allow us to enjoy fresh vegetables at all times of the year as an integral part of our ability to overcome some of nature's harsh ways.

Anna Haynes said...

Hello Greg and Michael, thank you for stopping by.

So - GregZ says (albeit without offering evidence) that we need a cultural shift before we can move forward; Michael says we should keep the option of getting our food from a distance, that it's important to get fresh vegetables in all seasons.

Greg, the shift would certainly help. Keep in mind though that we've been able to ameliorate other environmental problems by regulating them, so people of all cultural worldviews became part of the solution.

Michael, I agree with you that there's still a place for long-distance food, particularly given that entire regions suffer from weather disasters (including climate-induced ones.) I think we need a diversity of food sources, including local.