It will never matter how many sustainable solutions are found if the majority people never figure out that there are serious issues faced by the Earth. Awareness seemed to me to be the common thread in this week’s course material, and indeed awareness of sustainability issues is crucial in ending them. If you follow this link you can find out for yourself that only 57% of Oklahomans believe global warming exists, 44% believe it is caused by human activities, and only 34% believe that the scientific community believes in global warming too. I’m well aware that far too many of my fellow Oklahomans have been brainwashed by irresponsible conservative media and incompetent politicians like Jim Inhofe, but seeing these statistics in action is very scary. They’re scary, because they reflect how truly unaware the human population is about the very real problems we are facing. I’ll just state for the record that if you are on the fence as to whether or not global warming exists or whether or not scientists agree on it, you have dropped the ball on your research. Global warming is 100% fact, 100% caused by human behavior, and 100% (in general, at least) agreed upon by credible scientific minds.
So how can awareness be created? Eco-labeling is one such option, though it is currently a rather ineffective system. Learning about the various eco-labels and the rigorous requirements to achieve them was really quite interesting, but I believe they are too difficult for the average consumer to understand. Some of the labels without even an organization name would be that much more difficult to look up and decipher by the average consumer. I think these eco-labels are a wonderful idea, and as an entrepreneur I would love to have a business certified by every single one of these! I, however, have at least a minimal amount of background knowledge in sustainability, whereas the average consumer has very little clear information. In order for these eco-labels to become a better communicator of sustainable qualities, they must aim to inform the uniformed! The uniformed are the biggest and most crucial group of people that must be educated on these issues for any results to be seen.
Human awareness, or lack thereof, was also addressed in the film “The 11th Hour”. Though the film incorporated a palpable sense of urgency for dramatic effect, the information being communicated is completely viable. It is discussed at one point in the film that we have in place the technology for clean energy with similar dollar costs to fossil fuel energy. Why then, for example, is Oklahoma not a 100% wind-powered state. Wind is obviously available in abundance here, just ask any Oklahoman who owns a skirt or has long hair. It seems that the only entities aware of alternative energy methods are the oil companies, and you can probably guess how supportive they are of those alternatives (SURPRISE, they don’t want to loose their precious profits). If every Oklahoman, however, had crystal clear information on the destructive nature of fossil fuels and the availability of the alternatives, I really believe we would make better choices. This sentiment on awareness is echoed in the film, and I truly hope that sustainability can cease to be as controversial as it is.