THE BLOG
03/01/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Combatting "CO-Tuneout"

Do you know how much carbon that quick Google search just kicked up? Or the atmospheric price of that orange juice?

Me neither. In fact -- even though I theoretically stay on top of this stuff for a living -- I don't care.

Evidently I'm an odd man out, though. It seems like every other week, another one of these "did you know" carbon-audit nuggets sweeps through the blogosphere. Unburdened by context, propelled and perpetuated via retweet and the Facebook share button, we read them and pass them along for the same reason that we like to pause to look at car wrecks; morbid pleasure.

These eco-snippets do little except underscore that we need to reinvent even the most mundane aspects of everyday life. Which explains why they generally lead to one of two reactions amongst those who receive them, neither of which are particularly productive.

The first response is temporary paralysis ("Damn, even YouTube is killing us!?"). The second is perhaps more dangerous: Apathy, which takes the form of a creeping climate-change ennui that I call "CO-Tuneout" -- a mashup of "CO2" and "tune-out."

It's the eye-roll reflex. "Oh, God, I'm so sick of hearing about carbon," you might be muttering to yourself. "Can we please talk about something else?"

We can. And I have a few suggestions: How about values? Maybe ingenuity, and collaboration, and volunteerism? Maybe we can start planning a food garden for this year -- where, I assure you, the low-hanging fruit tastes far sweeter than a defrosted can of Five Alive.

That said, some numbers are important to keep in the back of your mind: The mileage of your car is a useful one. And let's not forget 350, perhaps the most important sum of them all.

But let's stop rehashing disassociated noise that adds about as much value to the climate conversation as Tyra Banks.

We've already changed our leadership -- and it was a long time coming. Now let's change our attitudes to match the task that lies ahead. It's crunch time, folks. Let's stop seeing baggage in everything around us, and instead focus attention where it really matters: The big picture.

James Glave is the author of Almost Green: How I Saved 1/6th of a Billionth of the Planet. Follow him on Twitter.