Blog Action Day 2009 – Climate Change #BAD09

The theme for this year’s Blog Action Day is Climate Change.

Blog Action Day is an annual event every October 15th that unites the world’s bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day with the aim of sparking discussion around an issue of global importance.

In trying to think of what to write about, my first thought was “what can I possibly add to the conversation?”  Everybody knows all about climate change, don’t they?  Information on climate change is like carbon emissions – there’s tonnes of it out there, isn’t there?

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown blogged this morning that:

Climate change is the biggest threat to all our futures. It will affect every individual, every family, every community, every business and every country.

Google’s in on the action with a “green tour of their campus” on their blog, the TckTckTck campaign1 of course blogged and, according to the B.A.D.2 website even TMZ is going to be contributing3. And some 9,700+ other bloggers to boot.  What can I possibly add to all of this?

But then, that’s the point of Blog Action Day, isn’t it?  Having many, many voices all talking about the same issue at the same time.  And as much as I like to think that *everyone* already knows about all this, I think that maybe if they really did, we wouldn’t be in our current predicament.

At any rate, I’ve decided that what I should contribute to the day’s discussion is those things I know best.  Which, on this topic, are, in no particular order: nutrition, nerdery and cynicism.

1. Nutrition

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about local foods.  Eating is something you do every day and has a huge impact on your health, which is part of the reason I got into the field of nutrition to begin with4.  But it’s only quite recently that I’ve spent any time thinking about the impact of food on the environment.  I mean, I’ve long been aware that one of the benefits of being a vegetarian is the lesser impacts on the environment compared to a meat-based diet, but even with plant-based fare, my choices can have a major ecological impact.  How much energy does it take to ship my pineapples from Hawaii, my avocados from Mexico, or my tomatoes from California?  Why get yogurt produced and packed in, and shipped from, Ontario when I can get the same thing – only fresher! – from the a local farm?  I’m actually lucky enough to live quite close the UBC Farm, where I can buy food grown within a few kilometres of my house at one of the few urban farms around5.  But even if you don’t have an urban farm in your ‘hood, it seems like community gardens are popping up everywhere too, so be sure to check into those!  Heck, you can even now legally keep a chicken in your yard in Vancouver – fresh eggs in your own backyard!

I guess my point to all of this is: when you are thinking about climate change, think about your food choices!  Here are a few resources to get you started:

2. Nerdery

A tweet from the American Public Health Association led me to this site:, where you can check out the fuel economy of your car – both the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) estimates6 for your make and model and estimates entered by users7 – i.e., actual people driving actual cars, as opposed to cars driven under testing conditions.

For example, the EPA estimates the fuel economy of a 2009 smart car as 36 mpg8 and user-entered data gives an average fuel economy of 41.6 mpg9.  And here’s where my nerdery comes in: I’ve been tracking my mileage and fuel consumption10 since I bought my Smart car back in April.  My fuel economy thus far: 39.1 mpg11.  Not bad, if I do say so myself.

Check out the estimated fuel economy of your car, as well as how many barrels of petroleum and you use, and how many tonnes  of CO2 your car emits, per year,  at:

3. Cynicism

And my last thought for this posting is on greenwashing.  Everyone is jumping on the “green” bandwagon these days, so I encourage you to think critically about the claims made by people and companies and politicians about how “green” they are, rather than just accepting their claims at face value.

Case in point:  Derek posted yesterday about the crazy shipping routes of two iPods he bought online recently, which traveled 17,000 km12 to get from the 9,000 km from the factory in China to his place in Burnaby and juxtaposed that with how Apple’s likes to position itself as “green.”

Case in point #2: All those Smart car drivers who love to brag about their car’s fuel economy don’t usually mention that the cars are built in France – how much fuel does it take to ship the car – plus any parts you need for repair or maintenance – from France?

Anyway, those are my random thoughts on Blog Action Day!  Let me know what *your thoughts* are!

  1. whose raison d’être is climate change awareness []
  2. I have to say – Blog Action Day has the best. acronym. ever. []
  3. although my admittedly quick look at their site didn’t see a B.A.D. posting as of yet []
  4. the other reasons including that (a) it made all the biochemistry I’d been learning in my undergraduate courses suddenly seem to matter and (b) I love to eat! []
  5. actually, it’s the only urban farm I know of, but I assume there must be some other out there. Does anyone know of any others? []
  6. this is a US website []
  7. which are not guaranteed to be accurate, since they can be entered by anyone and aren’t verified []
  8. miles per gallon; or 6.53 L/100km for us Canadians []
  9. or 5.65 L/100 km []
  10. I made a spreadsheet. I heart spreadsheets! []
  11. or 6.03 L/100 km []
  12. following two different routes, despite being ordered at the same time! []

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