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Episode 1: Down to Zero (and beyond) – me and climate change

Updated: Dec 11, 2023

My journey to a net zero carbon and hopefully carbon positive life (and art practice)

Change is Possible

Close-up Old Ice II - Inspired by images of Greenland's glaciers melting

Life is funny sometimes, looking back to my days in school and college; I was always interested in trying to make good environmental choices, some with success and others not so much.

Ten years after its publication in 1962, ‘Silent spring’ by Rachael Carson, became my call to action. For anyone unfamiliar with this book, the Guardian newspaper and Margaret Atwood did a wonderful write up of it on it’s 50th anniversary in 2012:

“...Silent Spring, considered by many the most important environmental book of the 20th century. Its subject was the human poisoning of the biosphere through the wholesale deployment of a myriad new 20th-century chemicals aimed at pest and disease control. Carson was already the most respected nature writer in the United States, and a pioneer in that field. She knew how to explain science to ordinary readers in a way that they could understand; she knew also that if you don't love a thing you won't save it, and her love for the natural world shines through everything she wrote. For Silent Spring – which she already knew would be her last tilt at the windmill – she polished all her rhetorical weapons, and synthesised a wide range of research. She was able to combine a simple and dramatic presentation with a formidable array of backup statistics, and to forge a call to specific action. The impact was enormous – many groups, pieces of legislation, and government agencies were inspired by it – and both its main insights remain central today.”

The Guardian, Margaret Atwood: Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, 50 years on, 7 Dec 2012

You may ask what this has to do with climate change? Good question. It has shown me that change can happen when we make positive choices and even small changes to our lives. As a result of Rachael Carson’s book, many harmful chemicals like DDT were banned in most places by the mid-1970s, many bird species and insects recovered and the environmental movement was born.

“...Silent Spring affected government policy. Every one of the toxic chemicals named in the book was either banned or severely restricted in the United States by 1975. Farm chemicals, pest-control chemicals, and household chemicals undergo much greater scrutiny, regulation, and control than before Rachel Carson published the book, and the chemicals allowed are less deadly and used in smaller amounts.”

In another famous case, during the 1980s a huge hole was discovered in the ozone layer over Antarctica. Through actions taken as part of the Montreal protocol to reduce use of CFCs and other propellants and ozone depleting chemicals, positive consumer choices and government legislation, the ozone hole discovered over Antarctica in 1982, reached its smallest recorded size in 2019.

These historical precedents give me hope that in acting more positively now in my choices and actions to reduce my own carbon footprint (personal and art practice), I will be doing my part in the Global scheme.

The intent of this blog is to share my journey with you – research, decisions, successes and things that may not be as good as I’d hoped...but all progress toward that goal of a net carbon neutral or better yet carbon positive life and art practice.

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