04 May 2007

Can a blog protect the global environment?

I write this just two hours after IPCC's press conference on the publication of their "Mitigation of Climate Change" report, and the main points from their document has already reached the headlines of national newspapers. If the journalists have got it right, the effort needed to halt global warming in the short term is a 3% reduction in global GDP, which is a surprisingly small figure in my opinion. However I'm sure this figure will be fiercely debated in the next weeks. James Lovelock (the Gaia-guy) has already announced that doom is imminent no matter what we do. Politicians (eg. Bush administration, Norwegian government, Hugo Chavez, etc.) and scientists backed by fossil fuel industry will predictably criticise the report and try their best to destroy its credibility. The more time they can bargain for, the more money they'll make. But I digress. As my friend Frank Thériault stressed in his blog two days ago: Act locally!

So, can my blog help *me* to protect global environment? Or is it just a rhetoric question to justify my masochism?

Alas, yes.

A lot of good things can be said about photographing locally instead of travelling far and wide. Reducing car emissions is a big one. The big question, however, is whether local activity replace expeditions or simply add to them.

In my case, it's an add-on. As I stated in one of the first posts in this blog, regular photographic exercise is necessary to maintain skill. What I should have added is "for when you really need it". Which in my case means dedicated photo trips. Since january, I've been planning a fortnight's trip to Northern Norway, which means more than 2000 km driving. Yes, 2000 km. Norway is pretty stretched-out. I hate to think about the emissions in my wake, but I'd love to get those pictures.

In fact, my targets for the trip are areas that will be altered by climate change. One is an archipelago that will disappear completely with a two meter rise of sea level. The other is a glacier. Both are protected by legislation; the archipelago is a UNESCO world heritage site and the glacier a national park. Does this make my trip a moral dilemma?

To me, yes. And my solution?

As most people do, to find a justification (or excuse, if you like) ranking "higher" than the environmental cost. I won't insult your intelligence by explaining how.

Instead, I'll keep telling myself my expedition pictures better be damn good!


Boris said...

This is the most interesting thing happening today I think. I mean one that is not about politics or tera/giga/mega-something count of whatever. Well, it is about politics, but not necessarily immediately so. Hmmm, everything is ultimately about politics, but that's a different story.

The weather forecast has it that in a few days it will rain throughout the night here. This is very unusual, at least to me.

I don't think however that you should be concerned about your trip, my friend. Most probably if you took a plane it would have been significantly more polluting than the car. You can rent a car with smaller/cleaner engine.

What is troubling is for example those hybrid vehicles. The waste caused by production of the batteries and their (mis)disposal worries me much more.

But then again on the global scale of things we're nothing but minute specks of star dust.

You better show us the pictures ;-).

Alunfoto said...

There's 6 billion specks of stardust on this globe, and counting. It's the sum of their actions. No speck can claim innocence, but many are close. And they would never contemplate a 2000 km journey for the sake of some bloody photos...

It is still commonplace to ignore climate effects in the western world, but I hope in some small way to contribute to raising conciousness. Should have started a decade ago of course. Better late than never.


Boris said...

Well, I shall not argue with you about the global warming or other cumulative effects of presence of talking bipedal apes ;-) on this planet.

However I will suggest that you review the language settings of your blog. It is very hmmm, peculiar to have some of the links in Norwegian and some in English. I don't mind it either way, but mixing them is really strange ;-).

You see, the net damage of your trip up North is really negligible compared to the decision to produce so many more barrels of crude oil or to raise the prices for the above oil. These decisions are taken by very limited number of individuals on daily or weekly basis. And no, they are *not* related to the fact that you shall consume more gasoline than your usual daily commute to work or your usual weekend drive.

Of course this does not make mine or yours (this time I think it should be reverse of standard order of things as dictated by the grammar ;-) ) responsibility any smaller.

Alunfoto said...


Thanks for the hint on the language settings, I'll look into that.

Everything you say about the added pollution of one particular ride, like mine, is perfectly true.

However, the contrast still remains between photographing locally for its own sake, and doing it for expedition preparation. The original question was whether this blog, and my motivation behind it, would spare the enviroment even a single molecule of pollution.

The answer is no.

The upshot is that it puts the purpose of this blog in a different perspective.

I shall have to repent. Locally. :-)


PS. You really should read Knarf's post "Act locally". He has some very interesting perspectives on the "usual daily commute".