27 November 2006

Are you a greenie?

Global warming, the end of the world! What are we actually doing, in real terms, to fix the planet’s health? And our health: there’s no having one without the other.

Everyone’s talking about it: global warming, the end of the world, Armaggedon! We care. We do. But what are we all actually doing, in on-the-ground terms, to fix the planet’s health? And our health: there’s no having one without the other.

Are you one of the planet’s talkers or doers? Rate your shade of green (or brown) with this quiz.

Choose the answers that come closest to describing your attitude/behaviour, then check your score:

1. You walk, cycle, skateboard or use public transport as part of my daily commute (2)
a. Every day, or just about (2)
b. A few times a year (1)
c. Not if you can possibly help it (2).

<1>2. You recycle
a. As much as you possibly can: glass, paper, etc. (2)
b. Sometimes. Sometimes it’s just too much bother.(1)
c. Please. Too busy for all that. (0)

3. This comes closest to how you feel about eating meat:
a. Meat is Murder (2)
b. Don’t eat much red meat and I’d like to cut back even more. It's just sometimes I get this primal URGE to sink my canines into a juicy steak. (1)
c. Meat is meat and man must eat! (0)<0>

4. You’re thinking about buying a new car. The main deciding factors will be (2)
a. Environmental impact and fuel efficiency (2)
b. Performance and fuel efficiency (1)
c. Looks and status (0)

5. You save energy at home by:
a. Turning off the geyser regularly and/or you have a photovoltaic cell in your roof. Goes without saying you have low-energy bulbs and use them sparingly. (2)
b. Mainly turning off lights when you leave a room. (1)
c. Pacing yourself. (0)

6. Your relationship with litter:
a. If I see a litter on the beach or mountain, I pick it up. Well every so often. (2)
b. I never litter myself, but wouldn’t go as far as picking up someone else’s.(1)
c. I once threw a can out of the car window. Maybe more than once. And then there was that time I needed to get rid of some building rubble… (0)

7. If you walk into a smoky venue, you:
a. Turn on your heel and leave. (2)
b. Put up with it, but don’t look forward to smelling like an ashtray later. (1)
c. Light up, and think: my kinda place. (0)

8. You save water by
a. Any means practical: re-using grey water, showering instead of bathing, etc. (2)
b. Getting annoyed if people leave the tap dripping (1)
c. Drinking beer. (0)

9. Re-using gift wrap
a. Is a great idea. Sometimes I make my own. (2)
b. Is OK if it looks new. (1)
c. Is just cheap. Buying new gift wrap helps keep the economy ticking over. (0)

10. You have, or plan to have, children:
a. No, or only one. (2)
b. No more than two. (1)
c. Three or more. (0)

I suppose there's some hope in that you took the trouble to do this quiz... but there's no two ways about it: you're a brownie.

You don't go around torturing endangered species and napalming rain forests. But it's going to take a little more effort than this to earn your green stripes. At present you’re sort of a… breenie.

You're green, but kind of a pale shade. I mean, you're trying, but this is hardly eco-warrior stuff. You know you can do a lot better.

Fresh spring grass. New leaves. Ripe avocados. Kermit. If everyone were like you.... but they aren't, so don't slack off now. And remember, we’re trying to win converts, not annoy people: watch it with the greener-than-thou stuff.

The reasoning behind the questions:

1. Motor vehicles are major contributors to global warming and air pollution. If your car uses petroleum, you’re a polluter. Offset it by mobilising biomass (i.e. yours) and use your legs once in a while.

2. Recycling does more than reduce the need for product manufacturing; it serves to remind you how much you consume and how much waste you produce (those wine bottles after the weekend).

3. Meat. Animal rights aside, eating meat puts a strain on the planet. Stock farming occupies vast tracts of land, and the meat industry requires vast resources for feeding, processing and transport. Also cattle, numbering in the billions, contribute significant amounts of greenhouse gas (methane) in their flatus.

4. New cars. Any car that drives on fossil fuel contributes to global warming and air pollution. But choosing a model with good fuel economy and low emissions helps. Also, greater market demand for such cars will encourage motor manufacturers to support ‘greener’ technology.

5. Light and heat. It’s like voting. One switch flicked to OFF won’t make much of a difference. Now times that by a million.

6. Water. Wasting water wastes – well, water – but also wastes energy: municipal water systems require energy to purify and distribute the stuff. Hot water is, naturally, the most energy-consuming.

7. Smoking. There’s no evidence it contributes to global warming (though tobacco smoke does contain greenhouse gases!) But global warming isn’t our only problem. We forget that cigarette smoking indoors constitutes one of the most serious environmental health threats.

8. Litter. Litter, or solid waste, doesn’t just look bad: some types leach toxins into groundwater and others wrap themselves around wildlife. Getting errant bits back into the legal waste stream is helpful; even better – find a way to re-use or recycle them. Solid waste produces greenhouse gases: methane (landfill decomposition), CO2 (incineration). And transportation to the waste disposal site takes fuel…

9. Re-using gift-wrap. Gift-wrap’s a product i.e. it requires materials and energy to manufacture and transport, and ends up in landfills when discarded. Re-using a product prolongs its life. If you re-use gift-wrap, it’s likely that you’re frugal with other resources too.

10. Kids. No, childless people aren’t automatically greener than those who procreate; being environmentally conscious involves a range of behaviours and choices. But the number of children you have is an environmental issue: each new baby will use resources and pollute. And the more affluent your children, the greater their resource consumption and environmental impact.



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