Living More Responsibly
From my perspective, there is quite a gap between what is occurring in the world and the actions, or lack thereof, of the general public in the United States. Even those who understand the severity and potential harm of things like climate change and peak oil often behave as if somehow their personal actions do not matter.
I think we are living in a time where every single choice we make is meaningful. A friend recently agreed and thought that a lot of people may not know where to start. She suggested listing the top 5 things to do to make a difference. Here is mine:
1. Educate Yourself
The number one thing we can do is to turn off the electronics (television, computers, smart-phones) and spend more time reading good non-fiction. The goal is to better understand the unique time in which we live and the impact humans are having on everything else. There are many excellent books on climate, energy, peak oil, permaculture, food systems, etc. If you do turn on the computer, be discerning about what you read. There is a lot of information on the net, but not all of it is true or accurate.
2. Eat Responsibly
Industrialized “farming” has turned food production into a commodity for corporate profits and little else. It is largely dependent on fossil fuels. In fact, 8-10 calories of energy are used to produce just one calorie of food we eat. We are literally eating oil.
Eating lower on the food chain is a very good way to reduce one’s carbon footprint. One interesting statistic is that on a global scale, consumption of animals for food is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than the entire travel sector. In other words, choosing a vegan diet is one of the best things you can do, not only for yourself, but for the future health of the planet (not to mention the reduction of the needless suffering of billions of fellow sentient beings).
Many alternatives hold great promise. Eating organic is a good way to vote with your dollars. Studies show that ditching chemicals for more natural methods of food production helps restore critical habitat, increases yield and sequesters carbon back into the soil. The farmers who tend the fields are much better off as well. Think permaculture.
3. Stick Around
Learn to live in place since our travel habits take a major toll too. How could they not? Imagine all the cars on all the streets of all the cities around the world. Add thousands of jets ripping through the sky 24/7. Busses, trains, trucks and ships; all burning oil as if there is no impact on the environment or that the source will never end. Peak oil and the effects of climate-warming greenhouse gasses are two of the most important aspects of modern life.
Explore the outdoors in your own neck of the woods. Create a deeper relationship with the natural world around you. We live in one of the most beautiful and diverse places in the world. We’re already here!
Embrace the concept. Resiliency comes from localizing our food, water, energy, transportation, and even currency systems. I think it is important to use the energy and resources we still have to build resilient communities that are not so dependent on fossil or nuclear energy.
5. Cut the Carbon
When we make conscious decisions to reduce our carbon footprint, good things happen. We save money, become healthier, and enjoy more of the things that are truly important. Carbon in everything we do, buy, eat, live and ride in. It is the stuff of life, but like many things, too much of it can be harmful. There are plenty of actions to consider including making our homes more efficient and using solar energy to power them.
Make it a mission. Act like your grand-children’s lives depend on it (because they do). In fact, reproduction itself, although often a taboo subject, has very significant impact on the world. I think humane population reduction is important because doing it voluntarily is so much nicer than the consequence of nature’s inevitable pursuit of equilibrium.
There is nothing wrong with laying back and watching the clouds instead.