Blog Action Day – individual action is not enough

Today is Blog Action Day which means that lots of bloggers will be writing on one general topic for one day in an attempt to see what might be achieved through coordinated posting, and I am one of them so my humble contribution amongst the hundreds of thousands is entitled “individual action is not enough”.

The topic for this year’s blog action day is “the environment”.

“Bloggers Unite – Blog Action Day”

The idea of bloggers mass action as a concept is not yet proven by any means, but it’s certainly worth participating if only for the “blog carnival” effect but it’s also quite possible that a critical mass of blog posts on one single day will have some sort of lasting effect which cannot be exactly anticipated in nature, but will almost certainly be different to the normal flow of conversations in the blogosphere.

The aim is to push an issue onto the table for discussion, the issue being “the environment”.

If I have time, I shall attempt to synthesise between the idea of thousands of bloggers uniting to take visible action for one day, and the type of uncoordinated individual action which is most usually promoted as the best means to deal with environmental issues. I’m not sure I’ll be able to pull that off though, and I may just end up quoting from a book review which I read recently which puts it very well:

He criticises Tim Flannery for his emphasis on individual action to stop global warming.

Pearse writes: “The reality is that even if every Australian totally eliminated their residential emissions it would not result in significant absolute cuts in Australia’s emissions; by 2050 emissions might rise by 60% instead of by 70%…the changes we make at the personal level would account for at best 20% of the change required.”

High and Dry is the best book yet written on the climate change debate in Australia – especially because of its emphasis on the dominant role of industry in doing the polluting. Strongly recommended

So apart from the odd personal post about the song thrush in my own garden, how does ‘distributed research’ relate to the environment? Well I can think of many ways, not least of which is the subject of home working which I have been writing about for some time. Home working or telecommuting is hugely beneficial to the environment in terms of energy, materials, carbon emissions and congestion but of course it will take a major transformation in the economy before homeworking can become an option for more than a small minority of people who happen to work in the “information” industries. The technology already exists for a low impact economy to be viable without loss of quality of life, indeed it will be greatly improved, but first there is a mountain of vested interest in the status quo which needs to be shifted and for that, individual action is not enough. There needs to be a fundamental policy change, which in turn requires a thorough regime change on all political and economic levels. Taking steps towards bringing about these political changes are the only actions which will actually make any progress towards the eventual rescue of the planet. Changing the bathroom light bulb, all by yourself, and then feeling better about it may on the other hand, be a step towards allowing the present system to continue on its path of anarchic destruction of everything.

Blog action day is a form of collaborative mass action, even if it only consists of writing. The important thing is that the mass action can become self-conscious. The online equivalent to being able to feel the strength of a quarter of a million people in Trafalgar Square will be the results of tracking thousands of posts tagged with the words “blog action day”, the recognition and mutual commenting which will go on between bloggers, and the continuation of the developing conversation for days and weeks after Bog Action Day is over.

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