Smart Reactions to The Age Of Stupid

Since I saw “The Age of Stupid” a week ago, I’ve been trying to live conscientiously/be plagued by guilt and anxiety about the demise of our planet. As it turns out, I’m really good at being plagued by guilt and anxiety, but saving the environment is more difficult.

For example, last Sunday, I brought my paper Starbucks cup into Manhattan for yoga teacher training so when we took our break, I wouldn’t have to get a new one. The man behind the counter glared at me and said, “Do you know our refill policy?

“Yes!” I smiled. “I can only get the discount if I bought the coffee in this store.”

He shook his head at me and threw my cup in the garbage as though as I was some of kind of criminal. His rudeness, added to the rawness I felt after seeing that film, fortified with a two hour hip-opener practice lead me to literally shriek, “No! What are you doing?? I brought the cup to help the environment! That was the whole point. GOD.” He mumbled an apology but my eyes were already on the woman filling the new cup. “I have a lid!” I yelled. “Do not do not do not give me a new lid!!”

One of my yoga classmates was waiting at the end of the bar for her soy latte and smiled at me with a mix of patience, amusement and concern. “It’s ok, RB!” She called. “Just step down here. Just pay and come away. It’s ok.”

This morning at Starbucks, I showed up with my cup from yesterday and told them I didn’t want the discount, I just wanted them to reuse my cup. They told me that according to the Board of Health, reusing the cups was now illegal. Then they gave me the discount. Team America, F* Yeah!

I know–I need to bite the bullet and get a thermos, asap. So, that’s step one. Step Two for me (and everyone else) might be to go back and read the comments on my original Age of Stupid post. A very sophisticated conversation emerged there, and some commenters provided helpful links. One “Gary O” wrote, “I just hope someone reads this” after a long reflection on his career as a Mechanical Engineer committed to creating better energy options. So read it!

Other commenters suggested blogs, movies, Web sites, etc such as:

http://www.beyondtalk.net/ (climate pledge of resistance)
http://noimpactman.typepad.com/ (Colin Beavan’s the no impact man blog, from EcoYogini.)
http://www.transitionnetwork.org (The Transition Towns Movement)

For further reading on the subject, also visit the Huffington Post to read True Styler’s speech to UN: Do We Really Want to be the Generation that Destroyed Ourselves? If there’s anything I’ve learned in the last week, it’s that reform is necessary. I heard on NPR yesterday that carbon emissions dropped 9 percent during the recession. But all the scientists say it’s not enough, and if the economy recovers, the planet will suffer more. Now is the time to be active and make laws, because Starbucks and I can’t do it alone. As Styler said:

The United Nations was created to bring order and responsibility to our world.

It is a magnificent testament to much that is good in humankind. You are the inheritors of that tradition. You are the keepers of that sacred flame. I am asking you — no, I am begging you — to live up to your responsibilities. Don’t settle for warm words and fine-sounding declarations. Don’t accept clever compromises.

As we go forward to Copenhagen, the signs are not good. In the face of the greatest crisis our world has faced for generations, too many powerful people are behaving with shocking irresponsibility. Instead of meeting the challenge of climate change, they are sidelining it in favor of short-term priorities. Instead of building a sustainable global economy, they are ignoring it in favor of short-term growth.

Instead of telling their citizens the truth, they are obscuring it in favor of comforting lies about painless solutions.

The 21st century is already a decade old. The time when leaders could claim not to understand the implications of the evidence before us is long past .

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