Courtesy Roz SavageA million keyboards were singing on Wednesday as bloggers across the Internet drummed up support for action on climate change.
The cynical move here would be to take a great big potshot at Blog Action Day, e.g.: “Thanks, bloggers, for dedicating a whole day to this topic. [Insert eye rolling] Your bits and bytes will help change minds and save the world.”
And after attending an event the other night in Seattle, I am feeling very cynical about online campaigns.
Roz Savage was in town to tout her first book, Rowing the Atlantic. You’ve heard stories like Savage’s before: Earnest, hard-working striver finds wealth and success in the dog-eat-dog corporate world. One day, our hero wakes up, questioning what the hell he/she is doing, and whether killing himself/herself to build up a bigger bank account to fuel more consumption of ridiculous things (little red sports car, in Savage’s case) is really making him/her happy. The hero takes the drastic step, walking away from the grinding career to find meaning and personal discovery in a simpler, more meaningful life.
Cue the heartfelt music and the Hollywood screen treatment.
But try as I might, I can’t get too cynical about Roz Savage. Yes, it’s easy to fall for her charm, beauty and storytelling ability. What’s compelling about her, I find, is her fearlessness and her conscience. She gave up the rat race to become … wait for it … an ocean rower.
She rowed across the Atlantic Ocean in 2005 — a three-month ordeal that’s the topic of her book. And she’s two-thirds of the way through her row across the Pacific. She’s using her momentary celebrity to call attention to need for climate action, serving as a UN “climate hero” and planning to walk from London to Copenhagen (presumably, with a ferry trip across the Channel) so she can be among the activists in that city this December urging the world’s leaders to agree to a new climate treaty.
Courtesy Simon and SchusterAt the book event the other night, Savage said something that really caught my attention and put the climate challenge into focus. On her Atlantic Ocean voyage, she calculated how many oar strokes she made on a typical day — 10,000. The trip took about 100 days, translating into 1 million strokes to cross an ocean.
One million … a few feet for every stroke, amounting to imperceptible progress in her voyage. But add those strokes up, day after day. And day after day. Before you know it, she crossed the water. It was hard. There were errors and backsliding from time to time. Still, the distance was overcome.
Sorta like this climate problem we’re facing.
Next Saturday, Savage will be in London for 350.org‘s Global Day of Climate Action. She’d like everyone — Blog Action Day supporters especially — to join her there, or join the 350 movement in your hometown wherever you are.
We can’t save the world through keystrokes or oar strokes alone. We gotta get outside and stand together to save the planet. Stand together, not just on October 24, but every day, in little and big ways. That’s how movements become reality.
OK, back to your regularly scheduled cynicism…
Get Grist in your inbox