Everyday Environmentalism

Question: How can we be green every day?

Graham Hill: It really depends who you are and what you’ve done.

What do they say, “Perfection is the enemy of the good”--or something like that? I think a lot of people will put the stuff off because they want to do the right thing. And I think logically, the way to approach your own personal situation, in terms of the environment, is to take some time; do a carbon calculator; figure out where you have the most impact; focus on those things first, etc.

I think the challenge with that is that people may put that off and put that off because it’s a big thing, and they just want to do it right, and they just want to make sure.

I just try to counsel people; just get started. Pick something. It doesn’t really matter what. Pick something that matters to you and that just feels right and just start. And I think that gets you on the path.

And then, if you want to be more strategic, great. By all means. Get one of those carbon calculators, figure out where you can have your impact, and just do that. So I think that’s a big one. I think in terms of general concepts, there’s a very, very simple one.

Just small is sexy. And it applies to everything. Like we have this perception that we need a lot of things or volume or what have you in order to be happy. And we just don’t. So whether it’s architecture. The houses have gone from close to one thousand square feet fifty years ago, to close to two and half [thousand feet today]. So literally two and a half times as big; while the average family size has shrunk.

It’s not like we’re a lot happier now than we were in the Fifties. So you can live a great life and in a much smaller home. And by doing that, because the space is much smaller, you save on heating. You save on cooling. You save on lighting. You save on furnishing. And it just makes for an overall simpler life.

I think focus on small. Small is great. And that can be cars. That can be architecture. That can be the size of your wardrobe. That can be your number of weekend jaunts via plane. I think just focus on that. That would be what I’d say.

 

Question: What is one thing we can do to have a disproportionately large impact?

Graham Hill: I think if we were very vocal, with both our dollars, in terms of what products and services we’re willing to support and what not; and in terms of the political process, I think that that in itself can have a tremendous impact because it also impacts the people around you.

So it covers the consumer and the personal aspects. It sends a message to business, and sends a message to governments. So I think if we’re a lot more vocal and a lot less concerned about what other people thought, I think we’d be well on our way.

Recorded on: July 28, 2008

 

 

"Small is sexy," Graham Hill says.

Think of the closest planet to Earth... Wrong! Think again!

Three scientists publish a paper proving that Mercury, not Venus, is the closest planet to Earth.

Strange Maps
  • Earth is the third planet from the Sun, so our closest neighbor must be planet two or four, right?
  • Wrong! Neither Venus nor Mars is the right answer.
  • Three scientists ran the numbers. In this YouTube video, one of them explains why our nearest neighbor is... Mercury!
Keep reading Show less

Scientists reactivate cells from 28,000-year-old woolly mammoth

"I was so moved when I saw the cells stir," said 90-year-old study co-author Akira Iritani. "I'd been hoping for this for 20 years."

Yamagata et al.
Surprising Science
  • The team managed to stimulate nucleus-like structures to perform some biological processes, but not cell division.
  • Unless better technology and DNA samples emerge in the future, it's unlikely that scientists will be able to clone a woolly mammoth.
  • Still, studying the DNA of woolly mammoths provides valuable insights into the genetic adaptations that allowed them to survive in unique environments.
Keep reading Show less

10 novels that brilliantly capture the American experience

The distance between the American dream and reality is expressed best through literature.

American novelist, writer, playwright, poet, essayist and civil rights activist James Baldwin poses at his home in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, southern France, on November 6, 1979. (Photo: Ralph Gatti/AFP/Getty Images)
Culture & Religion
  • Literature expands our ability to feel empathy and inspires compassion.
  • These 10 novels tackle some facet of the American experience.
  • The list includes a fictional retelling of the first Native American to graduate from Harvard, and hiding out in inner-city Newark.
Keep reading Show less