This week I am embarrassed to be Canadian. It's a new feeling for me - I've always felt that I belonged to a county whose priorities at least somewhat jived with my own. Pulling out of the Kyoto accord does not jive with what I believe to be important. Admittedly I don't know enough about how the accord was supposed to work - but it always felt to me like at least it was something that made us accountable for our actions and was moving in a direction with at least the majority of the world in sync.
What I am also embarrassed about is my own reaction to the news. I passed the buck. Dumped the blame on a government I never elected - and as a result I feel very American. Obama was elected with a slogan of 'Yes WE can' - it wasn't 'yes I can' because frankly on his own he can only do so much. He recognized that it would take the American people a lot of sacrifice and hard work to fix things and that was the line he was selling. Almost 4 years later and the lack of significant changes are all being blamed on the one man when the lack of improvements is actually the result of population apathy. For some reason WE seem to think that we can sit back and make no changes in our own lives and that our governments (whether we voted them in or not) will miraculously make our lives better. REAL life doesn't work that way. REAL life requires that we take responsibility for our actions and inaction's - that we ACT when we want change - and that when we don't really want change we don't act.
So Canada withdrew from the Kyoto accord and that decision says things about my home country that I disagree with. Without belonging to the accord I can still commit to the values and intent that I agree with. I can still commit to making improvements in my home and work that will reduce the emissions of my own family. I can take action in many small ways and if enough of us do take action we can make the same differences that Canada participating in the Kyoto accord could have. After all it's the actual emission changes that were important and WE are the ones who have the actual power to make a difference - we just have to choose to use it.
Are you wondering what YOU can actually do to reduce global greenhouse emissions. Start here - Consume Less (less electricity, less water, less fuel, less packaging), Localize what you do consume (buy local food and locally made products), Drive Less (car share, plan out excursions that require a vehicle, ride a bike or walk), Recycle.