Our daily acts have major consequences

Feb 11, 2008

The Courier Journal

"In every deliberation we must consider the impact on the seventh generation. …"

My community challenge is for us to be more aware of the consequences of our daily acts.

1) Eat better. We have to eat, but how we eat is a choice. Let's go more often to the farmers' market. Most food in stores has traveled 1,500 miles to get there, and is not remotely fresh or organic. What about the carbon footprint? Why not challenge the way food gets to our tables, and at the same support our hard-working neighbors who farm the land?

If we could get all the schools, governmental agencies and large corporations to run their cafeterias on local foods, imagine the boost to the local economy as well as to the health of our children. The law of supply and demand says that the more we buy from farmers, the more they will be able to deliver, and the cheaper organic food will become. We are lucky to live in Kentucky with its fertile soil.

2) Stop using electricity from coal. A simple act Louisvillians can do to help our state and nation get off its addiction to coal (over 50 percent of the electricity in the nation comes from coal presently) is go to the LG&E Web site and enroll in their green program. We all need to realize that we are personally responsible for the destruction and rape of our mountains every time we turn on a light bulb if we have not signed up for getting our electricity from renewable sources. Companies want to provide consumers with a desired product, so the more people we get to sign up for renewable energy, the more renewable their energy sources will have to become. We have a lot of coal, but our present policies continue to leave Eastern Kentucky impoverished, and the coal companies are not building any infrastructure that will endure once they have emptied our mountains.

One of the richest men in China right now is the guy selling solar panels!

Coal is a 19th Century fuel source that really should be left behind now that we are in the 21st Century. It is not something to be nostalgic over.

Kentucky should be a leader in green energy. We need to urge our legislators to consider this.

3) Think about water and your "water footprint." We could all survive on much less water. There is a water crisis looming. We are lucky to be on the banks of the mighty Ohio River, one of the increasingly few rivers that actually still flows to the ocean. The once mighty Colorado dries up before it ever gets to the ocean, and the American southwest is practicing such unsustainable water practices that residents will soon have to move away.

Where will they move? Well, they could move here because Kentucky has a commonwealth in its rivers and water (assuming continued mountaintop removal coal mining doesn¹t pollute all our water). We can all do our part helping the water situation here in Kentucky by planting native grasses, not watering in the middle of the day in the summer when it evaporates, not flushing after every urination, and replacing our old 5 gallon toilets with 1.6 gallon toilets. Think about putting in green roofs (prevents run-off and naturally filters water), and for crying out loud stop buying plastic bottled water. Bottled water is not quality controlled -- local tap water is much safer, and free, and plastic is environmentally catastrophic (it never goes away) and has been shown to cause cancer over time.

4) Compost. We need to get a composting system going in this town, with the same truck that hauls off our recycling, or different trucks same days, coming to take our compostable waste. It takes thousands of years to grown topsoil (we need topsoil for the destroyed mountains in the coalfields) but composting does the job in months. It also reduces landfill.

Everything is related. If we can get the schools to use local foods, we can also support a localized distribution system that will provide jobs and in turn cut down on the carbon footprint of our state. If we switch to renewable energy, we will reduce the pollution by-products of coal and preserve our ancient mountains. This in turn will save the water and Kentucky will be the go-to state for future generations because of our common-wealth of water and arable land.

Gill Holland is a Louisville film producer. His recent films include "Mountaintop Removal" and "Flow: For Love of Water" -- Editor.

Archived Articles

Related Topics