By Mike Bellamente (this article was first published on Huffington Post)
With each passing year, retailers become increasingly audacious in their quest to exploit the holiday season for profit. Come Halloween signs of Christmas abound, and by the time Black Friday rolls around, the yuletide shopping season is already in full flight. But what began as a well-orchestrated marketing ploy of the early 2000s, Black Friday has seeped into Thanksgiving Day as a time when families across the country dart away from their turkey dinners to join the herds in search of discounted prices.
Ironic as it may seem, we have successfully displaced one of the rare occasions for family gathering and reflection (Thanksgiving) with the chaos that comes with shopping for another rare occasion for family gathering and reflection (Christmas). I can hear the Grinch turning in his grave… “What if Christmas doesn’t come from a store?” he thought, “What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?”
But who is really to blame here? The big box retailers who are simply accommodating an insatiable demand for crap, or rather the crazed, group-thinking public who are more than willing to claw over one another for holiday shopping deals. While some may offer a curmudgeonly sneer to the Wal-Marts and JC Pennys of the world, it is really no different than blaming oil companies for climate change as we steer our SUVs toward the nearest Exxon station to fill up on two-dollar gas. “EPA LOL” as one license plate in a nearby town so aptly put it. “BLK GLD” reads another. Oi. Never mind the “L.”
So this year, when the conversation at the dinner table turns to how American (or un-American) it is to inundate our airwaves with ads for Black Friday, or how unfair it is that young Suzie has to race to her minimum-wage-paying job at five o’clock on Thanksgiving Day, let’s give pause before we cast stones at the faceless corporation. Let’s instead each head to the nearest vanity mirror to discover what role we as individuals can play in ceasing the material madness.
To this end, Climate Counts has recently teamed up with a rag-tag bunch calling itself the Blue Marble Gang to help those who shop become more adept at recognizing the good corporate actors versus the bad. Using CDP corporate climate change data as our beacon of sanity and as the basis of scoring, Climate Counts and the Blue Marble Gang are officially joining forces in the lead up to Christmas to launch the #BlueMarbleLove campaign. The campaign itself is meant to secure seed funding for a number of consumer apps that will drive conscious consumption and foster awareness on the concept of embedded carbon in the products we buy.
Beyond the technological component of the campaign, the #BlueMarbleLove initiative is also meant to steer the domestic climate conversation in a direction of solidarity, and away from the vitriolic mudslinging that so often accompanies and confuses the issue. For it has occurred to us, that over the past several years, the well-funded climate denial movement has quite successfully and effectively hijacked our collective common sense. Looking back, it seems obvious now that the moneyed interests who stood to lose the most in a transition toward a low-carbon economy armed themselves with fringe scientists, internet trolls and nefarious groups like the Heartland Instituteto seed doubt and stir gun-toting free radicals into a frenzy. Of course they would. With the Tea Party already roiling on issues like same-sex marriage, gun control and immigration, it would take nary a spark to ignite the flame of a fictitious climate conspiracy.
But now that cooler heads have prevailed (we hope), we the people can now stand together with forward thinking businesses (see the WeMeanBusiness coalition) and civilized countries around the world (see the 192 countries besides the U.S. who signed the Kyoto Protocol) to devise a long-term plan for addressing climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Make no doubt, the upcoming COP21 in Paris, and the hopes of forging a globally binding climate treaty, is also an opportunity to show the world that the U.S. and China, as the world’s largest two economies (at $18 trillion GDP and $11 trillion GDP respectively) are willing to assume an active leadership role in setting historic greenhouse gas emissions targets. To be sure, it is no longer possible to say with a straight face that progressive climate and energy policy will hinder our economy when countries like Germany have led an entire continent out of financial crisis, even while remaining true to aggressive emissions reduction targets.
Many would argue, though, that in order for our monkey-brained congressional leaders (no offense to monkeys) to agree to a level playing field on climate with other world powers, we must first see the demand from voters within. This is precisely where #BlueMarbleLove is meant to act as our call to arms to the American public to show that we stand aligned on the need to address climate change. While we have no ice buckets or pink ribbons, we do have a hashtag and a whole shed-load of hope. Now please pass the yams.