Environment and Alternate Sources of Energy Working Table

On November 16-18, 2007, we gathered at the North American New Humanist Forum, as part of the Environment & Alternate Sources of Energy Working Table.

Participants included people from Canada, the US and Mexico, Ecuador, EL Salvador Italy, Colombia, Brazil and Malaysia. We began by introducing ourselves and sharing our thoughts on current environmental issues, our experiences and what we hope to accomplish. The starting topics were: Global Warming and Peak Oil.

We agreed that excessive consumption is at the root of both of these problems, and we need to change the direction and concept of human ?growth?. Negative growth is driven by capitalist ideals, which result in the exploitation of human beings and the environment. Positive growth encourages people to consume responsibly and create changes in their lives.

Most people are aware of the current environmental issues we are facing, but feel helpless and are unsure of what they can do to help. Others may be aware, but are not willing to change their current lifestyle (or simply do not care). Most feel the responsibility lies with the government or corporations, and see global warming as a distant problem that will not affect them in their lifetime.

This inertia can be hard to change, and one of the challenges we face is trying to demonstrate that while the environment is at risk, the future of humanity itself is at risk. So where do we begin?

On a larger scale, we considered proposing a precautionary principle, where the effects and consequences of products and technologies are measured and tested before being deployed. Companies should be responsible for ensuring their products are ecologically sound and will not later pose a threat to human beings and the environment.

On a smaller scale, our goal is to offer concrete examples of changes people can make in their lives, simple ways to reduce energy and water consumption, reduce waste and start recycling. In a lot of cases, we are not willing to make changes for ourselves but are willing to do so if it means helping others, so we would like to create and organize projects for those that are more motivated by this idea. We want to begin by networking and holding monthly meetings, where those that have the desire to make changes can learn from those that have more knowledge and experience with environmental causes.

Generally, as a larger vision, we want to inspire positive change in humans, for the creation of a healthy environment including physical, mental and emotional. Therefore, specifically, until next years forum we will develop those ideas and concerns with the creation of 3 action groups to accomplish this:
1. Communication working group - website, wiki, networking, monthly meetings
2. Research working group - information gathering and dissemination of it and, finally, corporate responsibility
3. Action area - alternative technologies and solutions, sustainability and grass-root action. We propose that next year's forum to be sustainable

Finally, we reaffirm the importance of the principle of non-violence to apply these changes.

Facilitator: Sharon Solar