I have a problem.
Ireland. Ireland is an island.
I mean, it’s not so much my problem as it’s a fact. Something that isn’t likely to change soon. But it effects my moral decisions no end. It’s part of the reason that one set of ethical applications just can’t be forced on everyone in set ways worldwide. Because some of you reading this, won’t be on an island.
Why does this affect me morally? Well it means all sorts of things but I’ll start with two.
- Nearly everything I buy has travelled more miles than I have in the last year (and that’s saying something). From my tomatoes (from Morocco) to my laptop (from America) and my car (from Japan), not to mention most of my worldly goods that have “made in China” stamped on them. And miles mean shipping, or more often than not with perishable food, flying. Every week I pay for some perishable food to be flown for me to my house (well, my local shop). And that affects the environment.
- To visit uni friends, I must fly. To visit family, I must fly. To better work at my job, I must fly. Being on an island involves airports. And that affects the environment.
So for every shop purchase, and every flight, I am affecting the environment and must decide whether my convenience is worth that cost. And it’s hard, because the cost is unknown to some degree. It doesn’t wave at me in the face. And when it does (in the form of rising sea levels, melting ice caps, shifts in weather patterns etc), it is so easily challenged or justified. “I’m only me. What about the big corporations? What about the countries ignoring the environment? What about those who fly every day?”
It’s so easy to see corporate responsibility, point fingers, and never look at my own life. Which is where I find this book, brilliant. It challenges without overwhelming. It inspires and amuses, whilst still making a point. It has helped shape my life in recent years, alongside other things. I urge you traveller, take this world and its environment seriously! At the very least, look into carbon off-setting and sign up to someone like Tearfund’s updates to keep you thinking. And for your church, find something to keep you accountable like Eco Congregation Ireland.
But as the book rightly points out, we’re working on this one together, so please don’t get on your high horse about every minor thing you think you’re doing that others aren’t. Some of the most environmentally friendly people I know in Cork (nearly zero waste, their own well etc), I’ve never heard them mention it. Beautiful living.