Friday 25 September 2009

How eco-friendly is "Think About It 2: Climate Change"?

Think about it! has gone into a second round, this time covering climate change ahead of the Copenhagen Climate Summit at the end of the year.

But is #think2 really eco-friendly, eco-helpful, eco-sensible, eco-effective etc.?

If "some 90 bloggers from 43 countries" travelled to Copenhagen for the launch event last week - the majority by plane, I suppose - how much energy has been spent to make this happen? And won't this happen a second time with a possible closing event?

Using hotel rooms filled with electrical devices like huge televisions (I suppose they were there), running a conference venue with microphones and video projectors, including tasty buffets and joint trips, doesn't this all cost a hell lot of additional energy?

Giving new HD cameras to the participants, doesn't it mean a lot of energy has been invested to produce these devices, and will the bloggers not have to recharge these cameras after each 2-4 hours of filming?

And doesn't running a server for 90 blogs that will include a lot of video material over two months cost quite some energy too, not to talk about the computer time used to write the blog posts, edit the videos, run telephone conferences for podcasts?

In the end, won't even more people spend time in front of their monitors and mobile devices reading, watching, and commenting on what is posted on Think2 - without changing their lifestyle or without any decision-maker having the time to go through the content to find some new inspiration for a diplomatic process that doesn't follow the rules of the net?

Wouldn't the most eco-friendly solution be that they all stay at home, riding a bike from and to work and using as few energy as possible instead of spending time and electricity on blogging activities?

So isn't all this climate change conference hype part of the problem, and not part of the solution - which would be to radically change our lifestyle in favour of less energy consuming activities and behaviours?


Boyan Yurukov said...

Staying put and doing nothing isn't any better. Not using technology and transportation is neither a short-term, nor a long-term solution for the climate change. Getting people together to see how we can move around without the environmental cost is more important.

Vihar Georgiev said...

Good question, Julien.

It will ultimately depend on the results. Given the profusion and diversity of content we see in two days, I am an optimist.

As Thomas Jefferson said: "Information is the currency of democracy."

Boyan Yurukov said...

@Vihar - If information is a currency, then the right information given to masses acts as a corrupting force. That combined with the flood of data about the problem chokes the public and leave them without the much needed understanding and motivation to take a widely-proclaimed-as-urgent decision. Since that decision is quite hard and often beyond their simple means (intellectual and/or financial), the simpler choice is to do nothing and wait. And that's what we all do.

Vihar Georgiev said...

It is a huge issue, Boyan, and we obviously have our opinions on it.

But when I consider the feasibility of a forum, I would definitely look into the quality of debate, and the variety of presented views.

Maybe you are referring to information overload effects?

nj said...

Julien - your question at the end is perhaps the best point to start answering this post.

A radical change in lifestyle certainly could be a solution to the problem of climate change, and also to a lot of other problems. However, it is difficult to get people to change their lifestyles.

A drive to effect lifestyle changes is only going to have a big impact if it is nearly universally replicated. Seeing a voluntary drive being replicated in this manner is perhaps a scenario Hollywood could work on - in the Pay it Forward sense.

Now, I don't want to disparage voluntary action. I do think that you have to be strategic about how you do it, or you need to have some brilliant plan no one has ever thought of before.

Forcing people to change their lifestyles is not really possible in a democracy. The most we can hope for are minor taxes that make fossil fuel use more expensive. Talk about taxing beef and dairy is already outside of the realm of acceptable political discourse - at least I have never heard any politician mention the idea.

I personally don't think we will get as far with lifestyle changes as we'll get with (policy-induced) technological change. But this is something that can be debated. I hope you will recognise that we haven't yet found the solution or even the optimal mix of solutions and saying that everyone should just do this or that isn't really one.

In that sense, the second installment of the thinkaboutit competition can hopefully contribute some ideas.

Julien Frisch said...

@ all

Thanks for your comments, I appreciate this!

As you may expect, these questions have been formulated a little more provocative than I really mean it.

What I wanted was to note that many activities that are related to climate change policies are themselves not based on the reflection on how to conduct them in the most energy-saving way, that people use planes to talk about new ways of transportation, that they spend masses of energy while discussion about how to reduce consumption in the world.

And that those participating in the Think2 project should not only write about politics, but also contribute to the goals they are promoting by showing how they changed their behaviour for or with the project.