No, hurricanes don’t strike Lithuania. Neither do other natural disasters. Cars sinking on flooded roads or trees falling down and breaking wires are not the usual things to one sees in my country. Although two remarkable storms have hit us in the past decade, we all know hurricanes don’t strike suchremoteandforgottencountries. We have regular summers and winters, and no such natural anomalies like hurricanes. The anomaly that we do have is a national ignorance towards climate change and global warming.
We have been so thrilled with our gleaming supercars and cable television broadcasting indefinite amount of programs that it seems nobody even notices we are all sharing the same Earth, which happens to hold a finite supply of natural resources. When a foreigner first visits Lithuania, the architecture of the Old Town and squeaky clean streets are noticed at once. One might actually be surprised we have no solar power plants or wind farms.
However, we don’t seem to need them since Lithuania is proud of a wide network of thermal power stations that cause the increase of greenhouse gases levels in our atmosphere. Not to mention the admittedly insecure old nuclear power plant that can supply us the all energy we need. Besides that, we have got highly developed agriculture farms in Lithuania. In fact, people have invented a ‘brilliant technique’ of making more profit: they have been burning grass in the spring so that the lands would become more nutritious.
It sometimes results in huge forests fires, but nobody appears to be concerned since we have still plenty of forests in our country. Instead, the biggest concern we have recently faced is the struggle to become a more attractive and culturally richer country due to the celebration of one thousandth Lithuania’s anniversary this year. However, we devoted some of our precious time to integrate a few trends of the worldwide green movement into our daily lives. For example, the government has recently spent a great deal of money encouraging people to recycle.
So now we have shiny new yellow, blue and green containers for glass, plastic and paper respectively, and garbage trucks that put the contents of every container into the same room inside them and carry everything to the same dumping site. Talking about the waste, the amount of old used tires is increasing together with an increasing number of cars on the roads. Our dumping sites are already large; we don’t want the tires to be put there too, so we usually burn them down.
As far as it is not as dangerous as burning the household garbage (which contains even more toxic substances, like neurotoxin BFR, causing even more severe health problems), everybody is okay with that. At no point have I aimed to say all of us are like that. Luckily, despite the government’s lack of attention, not every single Lithuanian is that ignorant about the climate change. Nevertheless, hurricanes and typhoons, species extinction and destruction of natural habitats, sea level rising and fresh water level falling is our inconvenient truth, which people all around the world are still hiding from.
I myself comprehend environmental problems as a consequence of an increase in the global consumption. I believe people understand the importance of this issue; however, it is significantly easier to be a full-time satisfied consumerist than to become a nature-sensitive conservationist. Annie Leonard in her short film “The Story of Stuff” explained the consumption in terms of raising the economy in favor of natural and human resources used to manufacture goods.
Based on Paul Hawken ‘Natural Capitalism’ of 1999, during the past three decades, we have already used up about a third of the planet’s resources of non-renewable energy. It clearly shows we should be changing our behavior instead of trying to eliminate the consequences our behavior results in. Our obsession with things and our aspirations of a new iPod each year, an expensive car, or a house with a large pool in the backyard have to be resisted. Personally, I would say a hurricane is about to strike Lithuania.
I feel like a tornado-hunter, the one who is trying to oppose it rather that take a photo of. Ever since I first went to the Lithuanian Sea Scouting camp in 2001, admiring and preserving the nature became very important to me. Besides the Girl Scout ideology, I have been inspired with environmentalism ideas, and now I am the one conveying them to the youngest scouts of our troop. Several years ago we took part in a project where we distributed free organic made garbage bags to the residents of Vilnius.
The idea was to encourage people to put the waste into the bag until the trash box is reached instead of littering in the street. We were wearing our official uniforms (with all emblems making us look more trustworthy) and telling people about the benefits of recycling their old electric appliances instead of just throwing them away. I have also led a river hike across Lithuania in which twenty scouts were collecting rubbish and developing the campsites on the banks of the longest Lithuanian river Neris.
The best part of it was getting to the seaside after two hard weeks and realizing what a significant work we had done. So, what can we do? Recycle? Yes, at least that. Turn off the tap when we brush our teeth? Yes. Plant a tree? That also might be helpful. There are lots of ways that even one person alone can do to lessen the effect of global warming. However, it seems that it is not enough. I think these ways are more likely the excuses to ourselves so that we could go on with our lives as we are used to rather than the efficient methods of ceasing the increase of greenhouse effect.
Therefore, I firmly believe the state government should be more aware of the issue of global warming and introduce more drastic measures to halt it. For instance, buying modern carbon dioxide filters for factories and thermal power plants or banning the exploitation of petrol cars would definitely result in a significant reduction of greenhouse gases emissions. We should also create a more legislative organization to preserve environment, whose claims and suggestions would become more widely and doubtlessly accepted and realized.
I myself would like to be such community organizer and join a keen and effective fight against the global warming. I also stand for introducing the environmentalism course to students throughout all of the school years in case it is not done yet, as, for example, it is in Lithuania. In general, we all should be more responsible for the planet we are living on. Global warming is a true Damocles sword – one can never be sure when it falls. So, let’s not wait for this to happen, the earlier we start ‘thinking green’, the milder consequences there will be.