Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Buy local to reduce global warming

I recently attended a discussion called 'Dharma, Gaia and Globalisation' with Helena Norbert-Hodge, a leading analyst of the impact of the global economy on cultures around the world and Catherine Ingram an international dharma teacher, leader of 'Dharma Dialogues' - public events inquiring into the possibility of living in awakened intelligence.

The evening was fascinating & inspiring and my hunger for information on how I can, as an individual, support the reduction in global warming and contribute to raising consciousness on the planet was well satisfied.

I'd like to share some of what I heard.

Helena's message was clear and strong. She spoke about the very small window of opportunity that we have to reverse the effects of our lifestyle to date and attempt to restore the planet into balance. She also made the point very clearly that we tend to (and in fact are encouraged to) feel guilty that our materialism has created global warming and the environmental mess we are in. However she referred to evidence that psuedo-scientific research funded by the big energy companies has been actively used to disseminate the idea that climate change was not occurring despite overwhelming evidence that it is. And more poignantly that the rise in consumerism has been systematically created by very effective psychologically based marketing, targeted at all ages, in particular the very young, and designed to turn us into a race of materialistic consumers, discontent with our selves and our lot and carefully conditioned to believe that to be happy we really do need to have the new, the latest, the whatever it is that big business want to sell us!

She says if you are looking for 10 things you can do about climate change, at the top of the list is to support your local farmers and buy local. In fact she suggests that this is probably the top 9 of the top 10 things you can do with setting up local renewable energy resources as action number 10!

On her website - The International Society for Ecology and Culture (ISEC) she elaborates

'Throughout the world, agriculture is in crisis. Farmers are going bankrupt in record numbers, and the rural communities of which they are an integral part are being drained of life.

Meanwhile, international trade in food is booming. Every year, the distance between producers and consumers rises, to the point where the average American meal has now travelled more than 1,500 miles before it arrives on the dinner table.

These two trends are directly linked. The globalisation of the food economy, while enriching a small number of giant 'agribusinesses', is undermining the welfare of everyone else. What's more, it is a major contributor to increasing CO2 emissions, and therefore to climate change.'

Her organisation has been working hard to encourage the creation of local farmers markets. The results have been outstanding with such a boom in some local economies that councils and local government are starting to incorporate market areas into some town planning.

Another valuable piece of information that I gleaned from the evening was the hidden effect that using my credit card was having on local economy. I tend to use my card for all my shopping and pay it off once a month before interest is due. As the discussion pointed out this means I am donating 2-3 percent of my monthly spend to the potentially dubious, and certainly non-local, investment activities of my credit card bank. Money which could be supporting local retailers if I were to pay cash when shopping locally.

The third gem that I gleaned is more difficult to convey. The discussion moved to the urgency for action vs the importance of staying calm and centered and in a place of 'intelligent awareness'. This is a conundrum that I have often wondered about as I try to apply meditation practices in my busy daily life. I spoke to Catherine afterwards about this and she suggested that within the urgency to achieve the work that is to be done one can maintain an inner calm and an inner state of relaxation. Something in her communication touched me deeply and without knowing exactly how I would do this I could feel that this was a practical (and very peaceful) possibility. I'll keep you posted on how I go.

Helena's website again is The International Society for Ecology and Culture (ISEC)
Catherine Ingram can be found at Dharma Dialogues with Catherine Ingram
And the fabulous Kali Wendorf who compered and co-created the event is the publisher of the independent, cutting edge, parenting and lifestyle magazine Kindred - well worth a read. Find out more and subscribe to Kindred here.

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