John Mott-Smith Credit: Davis Enterprise

John Mott-Smith is a member of Cool Davis and a regular columnist at the Davis Enterprise from which this article has been cross-posted.

It’s that time of year again, when the folks at Cool Davis put on the annual funfest to make real their organization’s promise to “promote sustainability and have fun doing it.”

The issue of climate change and its potential adverse effects can be deadly dull and somewhat depressing. The Cool Davis Festival celebrates the positive aspects of responding to climate change, including more comfortable and efficient homes and businesses and a healthy lifestyle.

The 2012 Cool Davis Festival will run from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13. For the past two years, the festival has been presented at the Veterans’ Memorial Center, but this year is moving to Central Park to showcase the important role the Davis Farmers Market plays in the overall sustainability of the community. Third Street will be closed between B and C streets to make room for events and demonstrations.

The day will feature all the core elements that have made past festivals so successful — about 2,000 people attended last year —including music, theater, children’s activities, plug-in electric vehicles, bike safety and fun exhibits with lots of practical solutions on how to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions.

Several special events are also scheduled that emphasize the relationship between Cool Davis, sustainability, a healthy lifestyle and the Davis Farmers Market. It may be a coincidence that we have experienced a September with a record number of days with temperatures in the 90s, but festival planners have scheduled several demonstrations of meal preparation that require little or no heat from an oven or stove.

Debra Chase of Pheasant Hollow Farms and a trained vegan chef will give demonstrations at 11, 11:20 and 11:40 a.m. on how to “un-cook” using your CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box to prepare simple meals without using electricity. Tony and Rhonda Gruska from Monticello Seasonal Cuisine will demonstrate a series of salads and seasonal fruit and vegetable dishes from noon to 1 p.m.

And, for those interested in green home products, Lisa Baker, executive director of Yolo County Housing and a leader in all things green, will talk about and demonstrate green cleaning supplies at 10 and 10:15 a.m. and green personal care products at 10:30 and 10:45 a.m.

One of the highlights of the festival will be a free presentation by the performing group Nature’s Theater of “The Search for King Carbon” on the Rotary Stage (near the carousel) at 11 a.m. This family-friendly performance uses a few kids picked from the audience to find King Carbon and stop him from making so much CO2, in the course of which audience members learn ways to reduce their carbon emissions from three different areas: energy, transportation and “consuming stuff.” They achieve this with a healthy dose of humor, practical information and audience participation.

BY THE WAY: If you get a chance, check out the Cool Davis website  at It is really well done and up to date. The organization works hard to make it a convenient and reliable source of information. You can learn about the science of climate change, keep track of upcoming events and learn about upcoming projects and issues — not the least of which is the opportunity to plug into the Cool Davis Initiative and become a part of what is a burgeoning communitywide effort to involve all of us in reducing our carbon footprint.

JUST MY TWO CENTS: A friend (actually two: wife and husband) of mine recently received an (anonymous) email from a friend calling into question their commitment to the environment in general and to reducing greenhouse gas emissions specifically; gently chiding them for overseas air travel and calculating the CO2 generated from this travel. My friends shared the mail with me and, since it is anonymous, and because it speaks to an issue we all think about, I don’t feel bad about quoting from it.

The writer is aware of the conundrum we all face: “If your sister is married in Buenos Aires, it is both immoral to travel there, because of climate change, and immoral not to, because of the offence it causes” but concludes with, “Who could be surprised to discover that ‘ethical’ people are in denial about the impacts of flying.”

The writer points to British writer George Monbiot’s experiment in asking people who “are attuned to climate change” how they justified air their own air travel and wrote that “what is especially revealing is that every one of these people has a career that is predicated on the assumption that information is sufficient to generate change — an assumption that a moment’s introspection would show them was deeply flawed.”

Monbiot apparently invites us all to join in his “informal research project” — so I am. My instinct is to reject the notion that anything less than purity is hypocrisy but I’m interested in what people think and I’d be grateful for any comments readers wish to provide, both about their own thoughts about air travel and whether Monbiot is right in his conclusion that information may be an insufficient stimulus for behavioral change.