I have lived without a motor vehicle for over four years. This is possible because I live in an older streetcar suburb near a city center. The original streetcars have been replaced with buses. So, with no car I have eliminated about four tons of personal carbon dioxide production a year. I still get to places I need to go to but impulsive joyriding is impractical.
tt_tiara - I hate to sound so cynical, but… not driving a car just means that gas is marginally cheaper for everyone who does. Being car-free has its advantages, but it won’t stop the destruction unless you can convince everyone else to do the same thing. (And even if you did, personal transportation is only a fraction of the overall problem). I didn’t have a car (or motorcycle) for several years and couldn’t convince anyone else I knew that it was the cool thing to do.
The problem is that Derrick is mostly right. Personal consumer choice will not solve the problem and neither will technology nor politics. However, I read “Endgame” and “Deep Green Resistance” and I still can’t figure out how a small group taking down civilization against the wishes of the majority will not result in even more destruction as desperate people try to survive. If we can’t get the majority of people to agree to power down voluntarily, reverse population growth, and dismantle industrial civilization, then we are heading for a horrible bottleneck which few will survive.
Lack of imagination. Yes! And lack of intelligence too, for all our self-congratulatory technohubris. If there’s such a thing as a single root to our present problems, it surely has to be this!
Humans ARE part of nature. Whether we see ourselves that way or not is largely irrelevant. Nature is self-maintaining and self-correcting system, so however much one element of the system alters it, the system as a whole will compensate. Is compensating. And in imagining that we are the ones, with our self-evident lack of imagination and intelligence, who must control/correct the situation, we merely continue to demonstrate our lack of imagination and intelligence. What goes around comes around …
THIS is ultimately why nuclear power is unacceptable. It doesn’t matter how good our technology becomes. For as long as nature - whether in the guise of earthquakes or humans - is part of the equation, it’s unsafe.
Even the more environmentally aware of us, in focusing linearly on a single component in a complex feedback system, are missing most of the picture. Take this obsession about CO₂ levels for instance. A rise in CO₂ levels and global temperatures favours rapid vegetative growth. As does the staggering over-nitrification of our environment, an equally important but largely ignored effect of human activity on the planet. These changes are the other half of an equation which features wholesale destruction of robust, multi-layered, perennial forest ecosystems and their replacement with fragile, vulnerable, single-layered, largely annual monocultures. If the planet is to compensate this dramatic reduction in biomass, it needs conditions that favour rapid vegetative growth, so opposing rising CO₂ levels is actually counter-productive.
If we want to enjoy a relatively stable state on this planet, then we need to focus on the conditions that CREATE that stability, not the symptoms of it. The system needs to restore critical levels of biodiverse multi-layered biomass. This means a complete overhaul of our agriculture and the whole thinking behind it. Start with the basics: healthy ecosystems need healthy living soils and clean living water. They need diversity. This makes the industrial model of agriculture impossible.
So people will turn over their useless lawns and take over vacant city lots and grow an unruly riot of edible trees, shrubs, flowers and vegetables. Nurture their soil. Make their own compost. They’ll stop buying all the useless ‘stuff’ we fill our lives with. They’ll find a sense of security, self-worth and peace in their relative self-sufficiency. Community will become meaningful again. ‘Wealth’ will be gradually redefined and money will revert to being no more than a convenient means of exchange. Will this happen because people have the imagination and intelligence to see the importance of it to the global ecosystem? Highly unlikely. They’ll do it when they can no longer afford to do anything else. Nature is self-correcting, remember? Trust it! The wealth is now too concentrated in the hands of the few, but that’s a GOOD thing because it’s what will make the change happen more quickly. When a system is this top-heavy, it can only collapse, and with it everything that supports it - industry, agribusiness, the lot.
If we want to participate consciously in the process, all we have to do is open our eyes and learn to work WITH nature, not against it. But if we don’t it will happen anyway.
At risk of being perceived as a troll, I, in all seriousness, am ready to give up Derrick Jensen’s Internet connection, eye glasses if he wears them, bicycle if he rides one and you get the picture. I reject the mutually exclusive nature of the proposition. Not only are they all unimaginable, to propose that only one — forgoing electricity — should be imaginable shows a lack of imagination. Sorry, I don’t want to live in a world without polar bears or without electricity.
David J— Our excessive use of electricity threatens the continued presence of polar bears. Maybe you need to choose which you would prefer to lose?
Rene M — Creativity is merely a subset of the much larger category comprised of anything outside the narrow confines of our conditioned consciousness. Changing our fixed ideas is the real perceived threat.
WendyH — You say: opposing rising CO2 levels is actually counter-productive. You might want to look more deeply into that one. However I understand that you subscribe to the idea that almost any thing that hastens civilization’s collapse is worthwhile. You are on the same page as DJ on this. I would ask you and DJ to look more deeply into what that collapse would really be like, and the extreme unlikely-hood that such a phenomenon would result in a better world for all of us by some vague mechanism by which Mother Nature automatically restores order. Don’t bet all your chips on humankind somehow coming to their senses in the aftermath of such an apocalypse either. Looks to me like we need to work to fix our problems before it is too late to do so. The various deus ex machina interventions that have been proposed all turn out to be a day late and a dollar short in the end.