SAYING YES SOMETIMES MEANS SAYING NO 

Many of you know that I have been learning French non-stop for the last three years, and some are aware that I wanted to go back to France to visit or live. Moving there is not possible, due to the difficulties of acquiring a visa without actually owning a home or having relatives in the country. And these same visa requirements, meant that I had to limit any temporary stay to 3 months or less. I had begun to plan a trip that would have allowed me to visit friends in Paris and Rouen, and near Lyon and finally a month in Guillestre in the French alps, visiting one of my favorite French friends. I had looked at certain Airbnb places in those three regions and was on the cusp of making reservations, when I was temporarily halted in my plans by two small retinal hemorrhages. These likely represent nothing serious, but it did force me to put off planning the trip until after my November 19 appointment with the eye doctor. However, in that time things have changed, or my thinking has. 

I have been advised that my stance is useless, that someone will be in that seat, aboard that plane, if not me then another person, that my denying myself a trip to France won’t make a dent in climate change, that individuals’ efforts are for naught when it’s the big corporations that need to change. Maybe so. As an individual I already do what i can to diminish my carbon footprint: I eat no meat, fish, eggs or dairy products. That is because I have learned that it is animal farming that is at the base of most deforestation and our billions of cows are a huge global source of methane emissions, bigger than all transportation combined, according to some sources. Since methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas than CO2, this is something I encourage in others: cut back on your consumption of animals even if you feel it is impossible to go plant based entirely. I use a washing machine yes, but I dry my clothing on a line. I rarely drive when walking is possible (yes I do own a used car). I have flown in a plane maybe a handful of times over all my nearly 69 years. I keep the heat way down in my apartment, despite the fact that my rent includes heat. BUT…

The things I do that add to my own carbon footprint are typically American. I use a small air conditioner in my bedroom in the summer, just for sleeping but I do use it and would suffer without it as my bedroom gets stifling in the summer heat, even in Vermont. And I confess to shopping online, largely because I do not want to drive to a far-off store or the store is simply too far away to get to. But transportation is transportation whether I do it, or I purchase something that forces someone to drive to my apartment to deliver it. I don’t only buy locally to sustain the local economy, no, as the local prices are sky-high for art supplies that are not the quality I need. And so on and so forth. I’m sure there are a dozen other behaviors I could name that add to my typically American carbon footprint.

But “everyone else” is flying, or would if they could, so why do I insist on not going to France? The French need tourist dollars, I’m told, and they would love to meet someone who loves their language and has devoted herself to learning it. Maybe so. Vermont needs tourist dollars too. In fact many of the world’s local economies depend on tourism just as much as France and Vermont do. Something is wrong with this. It used to be that a town sustained itself with local dollars and local crops and local tradespeople. We didn’t need to order most goods from afar, with invisible energy costs. Local consumption didn’t carry a hidden price tag in terms of the poor people in other countries employed to manufacture what we want more cheaply than we know it ought to cost. We have become addicted to bargain prices, to everything being made cheaply elsewhere and to low fuel costs so transportation doesn’t add visibly to the price we pay either. 

I see I’m going beyond my level of expertise and also straying from my subject. 

Someone recently said to me that if one country does the right thing, in terms of climate change, that could start a snowball effect, with other countries  vying to do the same or better. I believe that individuals can spark this sort of thing too. I’m not going to France, because I cannot “justify” the energy usage. I will be just as happy as i am now, France or no. So, yes, I’m setting an example. Were you planning a trip overseas or by airplane?  Well, maybe we can start a movement by changing our minds and our plans, and saying No. Because every such No — to eating meat or fish, to flying, to excessive energy use, among other things  — is a heartfelt Yes to the world, to the environment and to the planet’s future.

8 thoughts on “SAYING YES SOMETIMES MEANS SAYING NO ”

  1. Hi Phoebe, its typical of landlord’s not to take responsibility for their property. It’s the same here. I live in social housing though so they are a bit more consiciencous and you tend to get things done. My landlord is pretty good but does use cowboys and goes for the cheaper option so having a shower put in downstairs by the same idiots who did my upstairs bathroom i have decided not to have done. I will manage as i am with my little water spray and my small shower head attached to my kitchen sink for my hair. I manage to keep pretty tidy. It’s all about money isn’t it. Drug companies have so much of it and they could give free contraception to women in the third world giving them the choice of how many babies they have. Of course most cultures believe the more children you have the better old age care you get. Seems children are an investment for your future in some parts of the world. I am glad to say my son and I are pretty independent.

    Thanks for a great blog. Anne x

    Like

  2. Dear Anne,

    Thank you for your detailed response. Insulation keeps heat out as well as cold air so insulation will help in the summer as well.

    I cannot do that here as I rent my apartment and our landlord is not living in the complex, and mostly uses it for making money. We had our roofs repaired last year so I think that’s all he will do for a very long time. My doors and windows are all quite drafty and I need to get some insulation for that. But putting insulation in walls and the ceiling is not something I can do. I wish he didn’t have a big oil burning boiler for our heat, but he doesn’t care as long as he is making money. My slate flooring at the entry has been broken for years but no he has not fixed that either. I love my apt don’t get me wrong but the landlord doesn’t much care about keeping it up.

    Phoebe

    Like

  3. Hi Phoebe again, just watched a video on YouTube of a global warming campaigning asking governments to insulate people’s homes so we don’t use as much fuel to heat them.

    The council rendered my home a few years back and insulated the walls. I had insulation in my loft but the council removed it when they put new roofs on.

    However lately i was offered free insulation and declied but this autumn is proving very cold here and i have had to have my heating up high so i am going to look into having my home insulated once again.

    You yourself could do this Phoebe and others who read your blog.

    That is just one step in the right direction. Also declinig on eating a lot of meat and chicken. Curbing your families. Making simple cheap meals. Using your cars less and using public transport. There are lots of little things all of us can do. I hope people take heed and listen to the protesters and the lovely little lady Greta Thorburg.

    Wonderful blog Phoebe. Never give up!! xxx

    Like

  4. Dear Florence

    Thank you for this lovely comment. I was very touched by what you wrote. Yes I want to do the right thing even if no one else will follow.
    Love
    Mommy Phoebe

    Like

  5. Oh Mommy Phoebe,you really did cancel your plans for France? Wow.
    I really love this post .Quite informative and hard to refute! I think I need to frequent your vlog much often..
    I am afraid though, that your sole effort to reduce environmental pollution might not go a long way.. While you as an individual boycott flights,or any commodity/ service that leads to environmental pollution, millions of others are doing the exact opposite inconsiderate of the consequences linked to their actions..for instance how many people own private jets these days,they fly out and about, whenever they feel like it. Talk about the massive no. of vehicles on our roads..etc
    Sometimes I feel there is no salvation for humankind, we will not escape the catastrophes that come alongside climate change…the wildfires and floods. We are literally calling out for them ..
    However,that should not discourage you from playing your part in conserving the environment! Do what you must do ,do the right thing, Notably,there are chances it might not pay off,but there is always fulfilment that comes with doing the right thing..so gwan ..And if more people join, even better..
    Thank you for this article..

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Yeah unfortunately Phoebe i agree with every word you say. I wish there was more i could do but most of it is out of my hands. My council believe in recycling only to despatch our landfill to countries like Japan and other countries. There is no easy solution and governments just aren’t doing enough. To empower women would go against most politicians grain.

    Hope you are okay. You seem to be doing really well. People have noticed your poster and like it.

    Anne x

    Like

  7. Hi Ann,

    We should NOT be continuing to use oil and gas, frankly, as they contribute greatly to global warming. Overpopulation of the earth, yes, I heartily agree! But I doubt highly that people will stop having babies to end the crisis, even though millions may die because of it. There is so much that needs to be done that I fear we will give up in the face of it. Humans tend not to plan for the future, even if it is right in our back yard. We wait for the crisis or catastrophe to occur then hope to pick up the pieces and carry on. That is the real source of my hopelessness about the climate.

    Take care,

    Phoebe

    Like

  8. Hi Phoebe, thank you for such a wonderful article.

    While I am aware of climate change there are other factors at play here. One of them is a reduction in natural resources such as gas and oil.

    The other factor and the most important one is population increase. Something has to be done about this and there is little mention about it.

    Contraception needs to be available for every woman on this planet so women can control the amount of children they have.

    Safe abortion too should be available everywhere for every woman and it is a woman’s choice.

    Once we tackle population increase by empowering women then we might just stand a chance. Otherwise its all pretty futile.

    Like

Talk to me! Let's continue the conversation.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s