Blog Action Day – individual action is not enough

Today is Blog Action Day which means that lots of bloggers will be writing on one general topic for one day in an attempt to see what might be achieved through coordinated posting, and I am one of them so my humble contribution amongst the hundreds of thousands is entitled “individual action is not enough”.

The topic for this year’s blog action day is “the environment”.

“Bloggers Unite – Blog Action Day”

The idea of bloggers mass action as a concept is not yet proven by any means, but it’s certainly worth participating if only for the “blog carnival” effect but it’s also quite possible that a critical mass of blog posts on one single day will have some sort of lasting effect which cannot be exactly anticipated in nature, but will almost certainly be different to the normal flow of conversations in the blogosphere.

The aim is to push an issue onto the table for discussion, the issue being “the environment”.

If I have time, I shall attempt to synthesise between the idea of thousands of bloggers uniting to take visible action for one day, and the type of uncoordinated individual action which is most usually promoted as the best means to deal with environmental issues. I’m not sure I’ll be able to pull that off though, and I may just end up quoting from a book review which I read recently which puts it very well:

He criticises Tim Flannery for his emphasis on individual action to stop global warming.

Pearse writes: “The reality is that even if every Australian totally eliminated their residential emissions it would not result in significant absolute cuts in Australia’s emissions; by 2050 emissions might rise by 60% instead of by 70%…the changes we make at the personal level would account for at best 20% of the change required.”

High and Dry is the best book yet written on the climate change debate in Australia – especially because of its emphasis on the dominant role of industry in doing the polluting. Strongly recommended

So apart from the odd personal post about the song thrush in my own garden, how does ‘distributed research’ relate to the environment? Well I can think of many ways, not least of which is the subject of home working which I have been writing about for some time. Home working or telecommuting is hugely beneficial to the environment in terms of energy, materials, carbon emissions and congestion but of course it will take a major transformation in the economy before homeworking can become an option for more than a small minority of people who happen to work in the “information” industries. The technology already exists for a low impact economy to be viable without loss of quality of life, indeed it will be greatly improved, but first there is a mountain of vested interest in the status quo which needs to be shifted and for that, individual action is not enough. There needs to be a fundamental policy change, which in turn requires a thorough regime change on all political and economic levels. Taking steps towards bringing about these political changes are the only actions which will actually make any progress towards the eventual rescue of the planet. Changing the bathroom light bulb, all by yourself, and then feeling better about it may on the other hand, be a step towards allowing the present system to continue on its path of anarchic destruction of everything.

Blog action day is a form of collaborative mass action, even if it only consists of writing. The important thing is that the mass action can become self-conscious. The online equivalent to being able to feel the strength of a quarter of a million people in Trafalgar Square will be the results of tracking thousands of posts tagged with the words “blog action day”, the recognition and mutual commenting which will go on between bloggers, and the continuation of the developing conversation for days and weeks after Bog Action Day is over.


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35 Responses to Blog Action Day – individual action is not enough

  1. INERTIA!! The tendency of an object (or thought process) to continue in one direction and speed unless acted on by an outside force. Mental inertia is by far the most difficult force to overcome and requires intellectual honesty, courage and vision to change our course. This mental inertia affects our every action and relationship and ultimately the very physical and emotional universe we live in. Human behavior is very often self destructive because of our inability to overcome mental inertia. We have reached a critical moment (like the drug abuser near death) in our existence as humans; we must change our thinking and thus our relationship with this planet or it will reject us and no longer sustain us. It truly is a time for intellectual honesty, courage and vision. These are the leaders the human race needs now.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I suspect that blog action day will be as successful as “e-petitions” when it comes to making a difference.

    • Andy Roberts says:

      e-petitions can be a very useful campaigning tool. They can help to publicise a cause as well as garner opinion around a proposed action or defence. The petition to defend the small cider makers tax exemption for example, has made a previously unknown body of strong feeling ‘visible’ in a way that only an online network could do for such a specialised niche interest.
      Of course if you are suggesting that the people who make policy decisions are unlikely to have their hearts and minds swayed away from serving the interests of the big financial backers then I would agree but letting them know that they won’t always have an easy ride when they think they can pick on seemingly disorganised and geographically dispersed minority groups can make them choose a different tactical approach, or choose not to make an attack at this time, both of which really do amount to “making a difference” although of course not a permanent one.

  3. Sarah Portere says:

    Here is some good information about the environment.


    • Andy Roberts says:

      Thanks, that’s a rare one these days – a real global warming denier. Or is he just denying the supposed link between man made global warming and a temporary increase in hurricane activity?

  4. mokum von Amsterdam will, of course, participate too in this mind boggling idea and will waste another kilo-watt-hour!

  5. Pingback:

    • Bill says:

      Is the point to write about a particular point of view or to generate participation?

      Is the assumption that if someone writes about the environment, they’ll support similar views as you express?

      Should they post if they don’t share the same opinions? E.g., if they believe global warming isn’t man-made? If they think the whole thing is largely a hoax?

      • Andy Roberts says:

        According to the “Action blog” which coordinates blog action day:

        “Our aim is to get people thinking, discussing, questioning and talking about the environment, from every angle, niche, viewpoint and personality.”

        So no particular point of view is being pushed here, it’s a kind of mass collaboration for the sake of mass collaboration. The interesting thing for me will be to find out how it gets decided what’s going to be the topic for next year.

  6. I will laugh so hard when this Blog Action Day does absolutely nothing. This is the dumbest bit of propaganda EVER.

    Let’s see, how can we get the global to conform to our desire for communism? Hey, let’s try to scare them into thinking there is a global catastrophe! Good, we can say that the weather is going to kill everything, and that it is our fault! Of course, we cannot let anyone think that they can do anything about it individually… we need government force for our communist goals! Hey, how can we make this work a little faster? Let’s create this thing called Blog Action Day, and all of our supporters can post on our topic of choice, the fake global catastrophe we invented! Brilliant!

  7. Oh, great; the ecology. There’s a topic on which we’ve all been silent for so long. And maybe we’ll harp on junk science supporting the latest liberal hoax for this decade: “Global Warming”.

    Please; 300,000 poor people die every year from Malaria. The EU doesn’t want Africa to use DDT, thinking it’s a dangerous and unpredictable chemical…or, they just have French-made mosquito nets to sell.

    Wake up call: DDT worked here. Mosquito nets didn’t. Let’s stop shafting the third world, trying to cheat them out of the prosperity we’ve enjoyed for so long.

    • Andy Roberts says:

      I would agree that “the environment” was an odd choice of topic if the purpose was to bring forward for discussion something which has previously been starved of publicity!

      How much DDT would we need to stamp out the midges which carry blue tongue disease?

  8. Dave Lucas says:

    I believe the more efforts bloggers unify and engage in, the more we will have a chance to truly make a difference… that effort may well ascend into a ‘thought form’ that will take on the persona of a broom sweeping in changes… Here’s my two cents:

  9. Chris Dudley says:

    Here is my contribution. Nice idea. Don’t forget to read Carl Pope‘s Blog too.


  10. mpb says:

    It’s hard to know if a virtual march matters. On the other hand, actual letters don’t always work either.

    We have a governor everyone else seems to appreciate (i.e., a newcomer) but one who has chosen to ignore the biggest threat to Alaska and its peoples in the past 15 years, just like the previous governors, senators, and federal agencies. Erosion isn’t insurmountable, but does take unselfish thought.

    Polar bears are merely the tip of the iceberg, folks. More charismatic than sediments, but I think the devastation of the peopled environment is greater, particularly when deliberately ignored or actively countered.

  11. Julian Ayrs says:

    My blog action is a tribute to the environment…with animated short clips, newsbites from leading conservationists from around the Globe, and reviews for films like DiCaprio’s the 11th Hour.
    Check it out.

  12. Ali says:

    Why is there so much discourse? Is it really so bad to make the environment better, healthier? Whether the “Crisis” is believed or not, one can not believe smog is good. It’s a very sad day when we all can not just agree to something good. We do know the world is round.
    We do know that plants provide the oxygen we need to survive. We can not deny that.

    Can’t we all just get along, and make this a health place to be?


  13. Strange how some people seem to think “the environment” means global warming and does not include consideration of whether to use DDT. It means ALL of it, folks! Everything that surrounds us.

  14. Tim says:

    Nice. I didn’t know about Blog Action Day.

    I had a similar idea a few weeks ago. I thought it would be great if we had a website where a bunch of people gathered to discuss one important topic (like the environment, or human rights abuses in some part of the world that no one would otherwise hear about).

    My idea was to have bloggers blog (as in Blog Action Day) but also have banner ads for all different types of popular sites to link back to a main article. It’d be great if you could get all kinds of activists, lawyers, letter writers etc. to congregate on one site and concentrate on one issue at a time. Maybe changing topics monthly?

    It’s just kind of inefficient for people to hear about an issue such as deforestation or poaching by themselves. Either they’re a single activist, one lawyer who can’t change anything, or an angry citizen. By the time someone else who cares finds out about the issue the first person has given up already. If you had a bunch of passionate people who actually had experience in making things happen it could be really worthwhile.

    But anyway, it’s pretty idealist. Having an effective swarm of people could turn out to be more like a mob.

    For an issue like the environment I think it’s great that we have Blog Action Day though. So many people seem to be thinking that if the world’s not going to end tomorrow then why should we bother. But that’s not the world that I want to live in – Of course humans could survive wearing gas masks and filtering all our water. I just prefer to be able to go outside and see some trees and animals – actually live instead of surviving. And people seem to think that technology is going to save us, but don’t realise we don’t just make technology and medicine, we discover it in plants, animals, rocks and metals. See your iPhone? That came from the ground. And your cancer medication? Probably from what’s left of the Amazon. We just can’t do much of that if there isn’t a rich and diverse environment. And that’s another thing it’s not ‘the environment’, it’s OUR environment. If we mess it up, there’s nowhere else for us to live, to kill each other or complain about taxes.

    Our environment is the most important thing in the world because it is our world.

  15. Stonehead says:

    I think your most important point is one that many people are overlooking: “there needs to be a fundamental policy change, which in turn requires a thorough regime change on all political and economic levels”.

    Our present political and business elites are one of the most fundamental stumbling blocks to effecting meaningful change to the way we live and interact with each other and the environment. It’s no longer enough to simply change political parties every few years – they are all made up of the same people who owe the same favours to the same rich and powerful backers.

    So, here’s my question. How do we bring about that regime change and is it possible to affect change within current political and governmental systems?

  16. Samir says:

    Andy, you make some very important points that not many people want to think about. We all seem to be embroiled in some wonderful technicolor fantasy about “one person can make a difference” applying to every problem that we ever face. The environment is a very complex system which human beings will probably never understand completely, no matter how much we fool ourselves to the contrary. Modern economics and politics is almost as complicated, and we are even less likely to understand these because “it works” seems like a good enough excuse to preserve our ignorance and maintain a false sense of security.

    Vested interests exist at all levels blocking progress. We often think of these interests only at the higher echelons of power, but there are enough vested interests at the individual level, mainly that of maintianing the status quo — anything else would be unpleasant and so unthinkable.

    The environemntal movement as it stands is mostly reduced to ritual rather than real change. This and similar thoughts I put down in a series of articles I wrote to lead up to Blog Action Day:
    The Environmental Movement and Why It’s Not Working

    Not quite “action”, but it was either this or “11 tips to save the planet with only 5-minutes per day”.


  17. Thank you for taking part in Blog Action Day.

    Unfortunately, I did not participate.

    However, I wrote a belated post about deforestation in Brazil. As a real estate agent in Minneapolis, I see a lot of people using a product in luxury homes that is very destructive to rainforests, and causes untold human suffering. Check out this post, please:

    Brazilian Teak, Slave Labor, Luxury Homes, and the Destruction of the Rainforest.

    You can find this post at:

    I realize I made this url too long. If it got cut off in the comment form, you can easily find it at:

    Anything you can do to share this link or help promote awareness of this issue will be greatly appreciated. Most luxury home owners in Minnesota are unaware of the environmental and human cost of these products. Most Brazilian teak found in Minneapolis homes did not come from legal sources. I feel sort of ill every time I walk into a home that has Brazilian teak floors.

  18. Graeme says:

    Blog action day is great idea actually!

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  20. Andy Roberts says:

    Why did I write about and participate in blog action day?

    Because it’s both a blogging phenomenon and a topic which interests me, and I hope, some of the readers of my blog who may also wish to subscribe to my RSS feed and read other other related topics during the rest of the year. I just wrote about taking Paris breaks by Eurostar, for example, which is surely better than flying.

    Same goes for theatre breaks in London.

  21. Akshay says:

    In the near future when all the fossil fuels have been exhausted, only nuclear power will be there as a source of energy and it could reduce the global warming to some extent. Business companies, transport, currency trading, manufacturing corporations will only use nuclear power, because fossil fuels are limited But bye that time the damage will have been done.

  22. Alex74 says:

    These people are dysfunctional savages.

  23. Forex says:

    Blog action day has a fantastic message to convey..

    Thanks for share

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