Friday, April 9, 2010

Small Changes Aren't Going to Do It

It's great to switch to compact flourescents. It's terrific to turn our computers off at night. It's valuable to drive a car that gets better gas mileage.

And none of these things comes close to giving us a chance at a livable future. We are going to have to make a sea change in how we live, and it will have to happen quickly. If we cannot accept upheaval in our lives now, by our own choice, then nature is going to impose that upheaval upon us, and we will have very little choice in how it plays out.

Scientists are telling us to move rapidly -- that the next ten years are critical to avoid going past the tipping point.

We are fossil fuel addicted, and as is true with addicts, it isn't going to work for use to "reduce" how much we use; we are going to have to get off the sauce altogether. We have to:

* stop laying down any new pavement at all
* stop cutting down any trees except to make way for other plantings (especially food production for local consumption)
* stop constructing any new buildings, and work only with remodeling or adding floors to existing footprints, because we cannot block off any more access to the earth by rainwater; the earth is our filtration system to have clean and healthful water
* stop using the private car for transportation, period

These are not "extreme" proposals -- though some steps are being proposed by some people that are indeed extreme. But the steps I've listed are simply the minimum we have to do, in line with the broad scientific consensus that has formed, to keep the planet livable for our grandchildren and great-grandchildren. And we can't take the action we need to take unless we start speaking bluntly, and operating in reality, about what those steps are.

And on the other hand, if we get real about what has to be done, we just might be able to do it.

(I will have more to say soon about these points, including specific suggestions at how you can get involved in bringing these changes about.)