Sustainability is Destroying the Earth

earthhands

by Kim Hill, Deep Green Resistance Australia

Don’t talk to me about sustainability. You want to question my lifestyle, my impact, my ecological footprint? There is a monster standing over us, with a footprint so large it can trample a whole planet underfoot, without noticing or caring. This monster is Industrial Civilization. I refuse to sustain the monster. If the Earth is to live, the monster must die. This is a declaration of war.

What is it we are trying to sustain? A living planet, or industrial civilization? Because we can’t have both.

Somewhere along the way the environmental movement – based on a desire to protect the Earth, was largely eaten by the sustainability movement – based on a desire to maintain our comfortable lifestyles. When did this happen, and why? And how is it possible that no-one noticed? This is a fundamental shift in values, to go from compassion for all living beings and the land, to a selfish wish to feel good about our inherently destructive way of life.

The sustainability movement says that our capacity to endure is the responsibility of individuals, who must make lifestyle choices within the existing structures of civilization. To achieve a truly sustainable culture by this means is impossible. Industrial infrastructure is incompatible with a living planet. If life on Earth is to survive, the global political and economic structures need to be dismantled.

Sustainability advocates tell us that reducing our impact, causing less harm to the Earth, is a good thing to do, and we should feel good about our actions. I disagree. Less harm is not good. Less harm is still a lot of harm. For as long as any harm is caused, by anyone, there can be no sustainability. Feeling good about small acts doesn’t help anyone.

Only one-quarter of all consumption is by individuals. The rest is taken up by industry, agribusiness, the military, governments and corporations. Even if every one of us made every effort to reduce our ecological footprint, it would make little difference to overall consumption.

If the lifestyle actions advocated really do have the effect of keeping our culture around for longer than it would otherwise, then it will cause more harm to the natural world than if no such action had been taken. For the longer a destructive culture is sustained, the more destruction it causes. The title of this article isn’t just attention-grabbing and controversial, it is quite literally what’s going on.

When we frame the sustainability debate around the premise that individual lifestyle choices are the solution, then the enemy becomes other individuals who make different lifestyle choices, and those who don’t have the privilege of choice. Meanwhile the true enemy — the oppressive structures of civilization — are free to continue their destructive and murderous practices without question. This is hardly an effective way to create a meaningful social movement. Divide and be conquered.

Sustainability is popular with corporations, media and government because it fits perfectly with their aims. Maintain power. Grow. Make yourself out to be the good guy. Make people believe that they have power when they don’t. Tell everyone to keep calm and carry on shopping. Control the language that is used to debate the issues. By creating and reinforcing the belief that voting for minor changes and buying more stuff will solve all problems, those in power have a highly effective strategy for maintaining economic growth and corporate-controlled democracy.

Those in power keep people believing that the only way we can change anything is within the structures they’ve created. They build the structures in a way that people can never change anything from within them. Voting, petitions, and rallies all reinforce the power structures, and can never bring about significant change on their own. These tactics give corporations and governments a choice. We’re giving those in power a choice of whether to grant our request for minor reform. Animals suffering in factory farms don’t have a choice. Forests being destroyed in the name of progress don’t have a choice. Millions of people working in majority-world sweatshops don’t have a choice. The 200 species who became extinct today didn’t do so by choice. And yet we give those responsible for all this murder and suffering a choice. We’re granting the desires of a wealthy minority above the needs of life on Earth.

Most of the popular actions that advocates propose to achieve sustainability have no real effect, and some even cause more harm than good. The strategies include reducing electricity consumption, reducing water use, a green economy, recycling, sustainable building, renewables and energy efficiency. Let’s look at the effects of these actions.

Electricity

We’re told to reduce our consumption of electricity, or obtain it from alternative sources. This will make zero difference to the sustainability of our culture as a whole, because the electricity grid is inherently unsustainable. No amount of reduction or so-called renewable energy sources will change this. Mining to make electrical wires, components, electrical devices, solar panels, wind turbines, geothermal plants, biomass furnaces, hydropower dams, and everything else that connects to the electricity grid, are all unsustainable. Manufacturing to make these things, with all the human exploitation, pollution, waste, health and social impacts, and corporate profits. Fossil fuels needed to keep all these processes going. Unsustainable. No amount of individual lifestyle choices about electricity use and generation will change any of this. Off grid electricity is no different – it needs batteries and inverters.

Water conservation

Shorter showers. Low-flow devices. Water restrictions. These are all claimed to Make A Difference. While the whole infrastructure that provides this water – large dams, long distance pipelines, pumps, sewers, drains – is all unsustainable.

Dams destroy the life of a whole watershed. It’s like blocking off an artery, preventing blood from flowing to your limbs. No-one can survive this. Rivers become dead when fish are prevented from travelling up and down the river. The whole of the natural community that these fish belong to is killed, both upstream and downstream of the dam.

Dams cause a lowering of the water table, making it impossible for tree roots to get to water. Floodplain ecologies depend on seasonal flooding, and collapse when a dam upstream prevents this. Downstream and coastal erosion results. Anaerobic decomposition of organic matter in dams releases methane to the atmosphere.

No matter how efficient with water you are, this infrastructure will never be sustainable. It needs to be destroyed, to allow these communities to regenerate.

The green economy

Green jobs. Green products. The sustainable economy. No. There’s no such thing. The whole of the global economy is unsustainable. The economy runs on the destruction of the natural world. The Earth is treated as nothing but fuel for economic growth. They call it natural resources. And a few people choosing to remove themselves from this economy makes no difference. For as long as this economy exists, there will be no sustainability.

For as long as any of these structures exist: electricity, mains water, global economy, industrial agriculture – there can be no sustainability. To achieve true sustainability, these structures need to be dismantled.

What’s more important to you – to sustain a comfortable lifestyle for a little longer, or the continuation of life on Earth, for the natural communities who remain, and for future generations?

Recycling

We’re made to believe that buying a certain product is good because the packaging can be recycled. You can choose to put it in a brightly-coloured bin. Never mind that fragile ecosystems were destroyed, indigenous communities displaced, people in far away places required to work in slave conditions, and rivers polluted, just to make the package in the first place. Never mind that it will be recycled into another useless product which will then go to landfill. Never mind that to recycle it means transporting it far away, using machinery that run on electricity and fossil fuels, causing pollution and waste. Never mind that if you put something else in the coloured bin, the whole load goes to landfill due to the contamination.

Sustainable building

Principles of sustainable building: build more houses, even though there are already enough perfectly good houses for everyone to live in. Clear land for houses, destroying every living thing in the natural communities that live there. Build with timber from plantation forests, which have required native forests to be wiped out so they can be replaced with a monoculture of pines where nothing else can live. Use building products that are slightly less harmful than other products. Convince everyone that all of this is beneficial to the Earth.

Solar power

Solar panels. The very latest in sustainability fashion. And in true sustainability style, incredibly destructive of life on earth. Where do these things come from? You’re supposed to believe that they are made out of nothing, a free, non-polluting source of electricity.

If you dare to ask where solar panels come from, and how they are made, its not hard to uncover the truth. Solar panels are made of metals, plastics, rare earths, electronic components. They require mining, manufacturing, war, waste, pollution. Millions of tons of lead are dumped into rivers and farmland around solar panel factories in China and India, causing health problems for the human and natural communities who live there. Polysilicon is another poisonous and polluting waste product from manufacturing that is dumped in China. The production of solar panels causes nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) to be emitted into the atmosphere. This gas has 17 000 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide.

Rare earths come from Africa, and wars are raged over the right to mine them. People are being killed so you can have your comfortable Sustainability. The panels are manufactured in China. The factories emit so much pollution that people living nearby become sick. Lakes and rivers become dead from the pollution. These people cannot drink the water, breathe the air or farm the land, as a direct result of solar panel manufacturing. Your sustainability is so popular in China that villagers mobilise in mass protest against the manufacturers. They are banding together to break into the factories and destroy equipment, forcing the factories to shut down. They value their lives more than sustainability for the rich.

Panels last around 30 years, then straight to landfill. More pollution, more waste. Some parts of solar panels can be recycled, but some can’t, and have the bonus of being highly toxic. To be recycled, solar panels are sent to majority-world countries where low-wage workers are exposed to toxic substances while disassembling them. The recycling process itself requires energy and transportation, and creates waste products.

Solar panel industries are owned by Siemens, Samsung, Bosch, Sharp, Mitsubishi, BP, and Sanyo, among others. This is where solar panel rebates and green power bills are going. These corporations thank you for your sustainable dollars.

Wind power

The processing of rare earth metals needed to make the magnets for wind turbines happens in China, where people in the surrounding villages struggle to breathe in the heavily polluted air. A five-mile-wide lake of toxic and radioactive sludge now takes the place of their farmland.

Whole mountain ranges are destroyed to extract the metals. Forests are bulldozed to erect wind turbines. Millions of birds and bats are killed by the blades. The health of people living close to turbines is affected by infrasound.

As wind is an inconsistent and unpredictable source of energy, a back-up gas fired power supply is needed. As the back-up system only runs intermittently, it is less efficient, so produces more CO2 than if it were running constantly, if there were no turbines. Wind power sounds great in theory, but doesn’t work in practice. Another useless product that benefits no-one but the shareholders.

Energy efficiency

How about we improve energy efficiency? Won’t that reduce energy consumption and pollution? Well, no. Quite the opposite. Have you heard of Jevon’s paradox? Or the Khazzoom-Brookes Postulate? These state that technological advances to increase efficiency lead to an increase in energy consumption, not a decrease. Efficiency causes more energy to be available for other purposes. The more efficient we become at consuming, the more we consume. The more efficiently we work, the more work gets done. And we’re working at efficiently digging ourselves into a hole.

The economics of supply and demand

Many actions taken in the name of sustainability can have the opposite effect. Here’s something to ponder: one person’s decision not to take flights, out of concern about climate change or sustainability, won’t have any impact. If a few people stop flying, airlines will reduce their prices, and amp up their marketing, and more people will take flights. And because they are doing it at lower prices, the airline needs to make more flights to make the profit it was before. More flights, more carbon emissions. And if the industry hit financial trouble as a result of lowered demand, it would get bailed out by governments. This “opt-out” strategy can’t win.

The decision not to fly isn’t doing anything to reduce the amount of carbon being emitted, it’s just not adding to it in this instance. And any small reduction in the amount of carbon being emitted does nothing to stop climate change.

To really have an impact on global climate, we’ll need to stop every aeroplane and every fossil-fuel burning machine from operating ever again. And stopping every fossil-fuel burning machine is nowhere near the impossible goal it may sound. It won’t be easy, but it’s definitely achievable. And it’s not only desirable, but essential if life on this planet is to survive.

The same goes for any other destructive product we might choose not to buy. Factory-farmed meat, palm oil, rainforest timbers, processed foods. For as long as there is a product to sell, there will be buyers. Attempting to reduce the demand will have little, if any, effect. There will always be more products arriving on the market. Campaigns to reduce the demand of individual products will never be able to keep up. And with every new product, the belief that this one is a need, not a luxury, becomes ever stronger. Can I convince you not to buy a smartphone, a laptop, a coffee? I doubt it.

To stop the devastation, we need to permanently cut off the supply, of everything that production requires. And targeting individual companies or practices won’t have any impact on the global power structures that feed on the destruction of the Earth. The whole of the global economy needs to be brought to a halt.

What do you really want?

What’s more important – sustainable energy for you to watch TV, or the lives of the world’s rivers, forests, animals, and oceans? Would you sooner live without these, without Earth? Even if this was an option, if you weren’t tightly bound in the interconnected in the web of life, would you really prefer to have electricity for your lights, computers and appliances, rather than share the ecstasy of being with all of life on Earth? Is a lifeless world ruled by machines really what you want?

If getting what you want requires destroying everything you need – clean air and water, food, and natural communities – then you’re not going to last long, and neither will anyone else.

I know what I want. I want to live in a world that is becoming ever more alive. A world regenerating from the destruction, where every year there are more fish, birds, trees and diversity than the year before. A world where I can breathe the air, drink from the rivers and eat from the land. A world where humans live in community with all of life.

Industrial technology is not sustainable. The global economy is not sustainable. Valuing the Earth only as a resource for humans to exploit is not sustainable. Civilization is not sustainable. If civilization collapsed today, it would still be 400 years before human existence on the planet becomes truly sustainable. So if it’s genuine sustainability you want, then dismantle civilization today, and keep working at regenerating the Earth for 400 years. This is about how long it’s taken to create the destructive structures we live within today, so of course it will take at least that long to replace these structures with alternatives that benefit all of life on Earth, not just the wealthy minority. It won’t happen instantly, but that’s no reason not to start.

You might say let’s just walk away, build alternatives, and let the whole system just fall apart when no-one pays it any attention any more. I used to like this idea too. But it can’t work. Those in power use the weapons of fear and debt to maintain their control. The majority of the world’s people don’t have the option of walking away. Their fear and debt keeps them locked in the prison of civilization. Your walking away doesn’t help them. Your breaking down the prison structure does.

We don’t have time to wait for civilization to collapse. Ninety per cent of large fish in the oceans are gone. 99 per cent of the old growth forests have been destroyed. Every day 200 more species become extinct, forever. If we wait any longer, there will be no fish, no forests, no life left anywhere on Earth.

So what can you do?

Spread the word. Challenge the dominant beliefs. Share this article with everyone you know.

Listen to the Earth. Get to know your nonhuman neighbours. Look after each other. Act collectively, not individually. Build alternatives, like gift economies, polyculture food systems, alternative education and community governance. Create a culture of resistance.

Rather than attempting to reduce the demand for the products of a destructive system, cut off the supply. The economy is what’s destroying the planet, so stop the economy. The global economy is dependent on a constant supply of electricity, so stopping it is (almost) as easy as flicking a switch.

Governments and industry will never do this for us, no matter how nicely we ask, or how firmly we push. It’s up to us to defend the land that our lives depend on.

We can’t do this as consumers, or workers, or citizens. We need to act as humans, who value life more than consuming, working and complaining about the government.

Learn about and support Deep Green Resistance, a movement with a working strategy to save the planet. Together, we can fight for a world worth living in. Join us.

In the words of Lierre Keith, co-author of the book Deep Green Resistance, “The task of an activist is not to navigate systems of oppressive power with as much personal integrity as possible; it is to dismantle those systems.”

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9 thoughts on “Sustainability is Destroying the Earth

  1. The root of all pollution is ego pollution. I can situate myself comfortably in an ego of my own creation, one that fights for a noble cause, or one that consumes for a selfish one, along with all the justification in the world to go along with it. The paradox is that they fuel each other.

    Where there is good, there will be bad. Where there is something, there must also be nothing to contain it. War, peace. Light, dark. High, low. Hot, cold. Fast, slow.

    We can be honest for a moment and say that we enjoy having something to fight for, something to grab a hold of. And greedy capitalists enjoy having something to destroy for profit. Would there even be one without the other?

    What happens when “we win?” There will be someone who wishes to go back to the glory days of greed and capitalism. Then it starts over again. What’s stopping it?

    Only One can stop it. Ego is not One.
    One snuffs out the flame of a burning ego, no matter how hot or bright.

    We can try to meet capitalist greed with righteous anger if we want, but in the end, anger is anger. Anger is emotion. Anger is chemicals. Are we as simple as chemicals? Will we allow that to drive us? Or are we so much more?

    The end to pollution is the end to ego. So let us surrender and live as That.

    They say, “the love of money is the root of all evil.”

    But what is the root of the love of money?
    Ego. Along with the love of plenty of other things…

    The love of heroism. The love of individuality. The love of hatred. The love of anger. The love of a good cause. The love of an evil cause. The love of debate. The love of agreement, disagreement. The love of attraction. The love of aversion.

    That pesky ego, driving attention away from itself so it can remain lurking in the shadows as an orchestrator of illusion, confusion and imbalance.

    “They’re wrong, and I’m right. They are separate from me. They are bad, I am good. I won, they lost. My cause is better, their cause is worse.”

    Here, we clearly see our problem.

    Ssshhhhh, go back to sleep, ego. All is well. The Truth is, we are all that we perceive and that which perceives it. The journalist who was beheaded? That’s us. The ISIS leader who cut his head off? That is also us. We are all of it. The nukes, the bullets, the kids, the thoughts, the forest, the animals, the fire, the water, the earth, the air, the universe and That from which it all came.

    Without Us, none of this would be. None of it. Neither the bad, nor the good.

    The nature of the world we live in is opposites. As long as we are here, there will always be opposites to focus on. Enough of that… we’ve had our fill for many ages of many varying depths of light and dark.

    In a parallel universe, there is a man dreaming of creating an economy instead of relying on barter and trade. There is a girl, plotting in an earthen shelter on how to make life more comfortable for herself and her village through systematic production of goods and services.

    I can rant about consumerism, pollution, sustainability, greed and capitalism in a nice article I wrote on a computer I purchased for $2,500 at BestBuy. And that same computer I know was manufactured in a sweat shop in China for a fraction of that price in monetary value.

    Yet, I use it, along with a vast network of sourced cables and wires, rubbers, plastics and metal alloys that span the ocean floor which makes it possible to share this anti-sustainability message with the world.

    I can run to the wilderness, take some Bic lighters (thanks, Bic), a machete (thanks, SOG), some good camping gear (thanks, Marmot & Minus33) and survival equipment (thanks, Coleman) also “sustainably manufactured.” I can build a nice off-grid camp with mixed-and-matched materials that can only come from such a culture of industrialism.

    In one hand, I can be angry about our consumerist world.
    But in the other, I willingly take from it.

    We have our ego-based roles and we thoroughly enjoy playing them. But in the end, those roles only keep us from the only Real Thing that truly matters: the Great Return.

    When the solar system has run its course, when the galaxy spins out into dissolution, when stars no longer shine, when it’s all sent back to the undifferentiated energy from which it all came, then what?

    If we break it all down, we see that this slave-built computer, the smog in the air, the oil in the ocean, the words on this screen, the blood in my veins, the coffee in my hand and the wool socks on my feet are all formed of the same quantitative energy. No different than the very thoughts in our minds and our deceptive ego’s which have their play.

    All is well in the Universe and unfolding as it should. Mother will fix it all soon, when the timing is utterly perfect. And She will enjoy fixing it all just as much as we enjoy believing that we have so much power to control, destroy, change and fix. We may have a part in said fixing. We may not. Our minds and bodies are but puppets, subject to powerful universal forces we don’t even understand.

    Nothing is by accident, nothing is by mistake or coincidence. The only thing we’re here to change is our own self. When That is the only goal, balance is naturally restored. It has to be. We have a road map and the Way is easy, the burden is light.

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  2. Love can only be realized and lived through understanding. Being a naturalist at heart it was through quality time in the woods, along with the guidance of the wisdom, skills, teachings of those who lived with the earth, that created an intimate understanding of the ‘Way of nature’ and therefore a Love of nature – which is that which is real. The evolving of understanding began to reveal the efflorescence of the truth of how the movement of an ant influenced the entire earth, that we are swimming in a sea where nothing is separate, there are no islands, even beyond the earth; that even how we think about a fox or a tree or each other creates ripples, and these ripples return and influence the thinker of the initial thought. Through this Love we develop empathy for all life and we learn to take only what we need, and are inspired to give back more than we take. I understood also, that to truly Love nature, the Earth, we must first learn to Love our own species.

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  3. Kim Hill’s article is powerful statement—an impassioned plea for all of us to wake up and see what’s actually happening to our planetary home. More important, she forces us to look at our choices and be honest with ourselves about the things we value most. No one can escape responsibility for what’s happening to the planet. The question is, what can we do about it, and what’s the best way to do it?

    To answer that question, I think it’s important to start with a long perspective.

    Centuries ago, the seers of many native tribes prophesied a time of cleansing for the earth and humanity that would come about as a result of human greed and blindness. They knew it would be a time of great tumult and change and loss, but they also knew that very chaos would ultimately bring about a new harmony and balance on the planet. Like a global storm, the “Great Purification,” as they called it, would be driven not by humans but by nature.

    For seventy years now, I’ve watched the biosphere deteriorate. Even during that short time span, the rate of destruction has increased exponentially. A few decades ago, it seemed there might still be hope to avoid global catastrophe if we acted fast enough. But we didn’t. All the collective efforts of environmental groups and well-meaning people the world over have not slowed the juggernaut of destruction one iota.

    Anyone with eyes to see can tell that the Great Purification is growing and accelerating like a hurricane. We’re in the thick of it now, and there’s no stopping it. All we can do, it seems, is hunker down and wait for the storm to blow by. Even now, in the midst of the most devastating deforestation, climate change, species loss, global warfare, school shootings, corporate greed, political selfishness, and a thousand other tentacles of the modern beast of exploitation, there is no hint that we humans will respond quickly or decisively enough to turn it around.

    But from a planetary perspective that’s OK, because nature will. Eventually, we can be sure, the forces of nature will restore a healthy sustainability. How long that will be or how many more species will be destroyed before it kicks in is anybody’s guess. It’s also anybody’s guess as to whether we humans will survive. There’s no guarantee we will make it. We’re not special, and it’s time to stop thinking we are.

    The way I see it, our best shot at survival and healthy sustainability (not just the warm, fuzzy kind that makes us feel like responsible consumers) is to realign ourselves with the forces of nature. It’s not going to be enough just to protect ourselves from destruction; we’ll have to dig deeper than that. It’s a time to humble ourselves, honor the earth, remember how to communicate with plants and animals, reawaken and share the ancient wisdom teachings. Above all, it’s a time for listening to our hearts, our direct line to the new world under construction, even as the old is crumbling.

    It’s also a time for heart-centered action. So often we think that the most dramatic thing is the most effective: “Declare war! Shut the polluters down! Punish the crooks!” But violence only begets violence; while it may be necessary in the short run, it’s never a long-term solution. What the world needs is action that springs from kindness, compassion, and vision. It may not seem like you’re doing much while feeding and raising your own family or mowing your own patch of lawn, but how many times have we seen local inspirational actions and ideas spread quickly around the world? The old saying, “Think globally, act locally” is just as important as it ever was, maybe even moreso.

    When we think globally—and especially when we feel globally—we soon come to realize that the Earth is a living being and that we are an intimate part of it. Like tiny cells in the larger organism, each of us contributes to the overall health of the Great Mother. From this perspective, even our daily love and small kindnesses make a difference. In fact, it’s just possible that everything we think, feel, and do makes a difference.

    From this point of view, we can ask ourselves, “Am I contributing to the pollution or cleaning it up? Am I projecting peace, or am I projecting war? Am I adding love or adding fear?

    If everything we do makes a difference, then no action is wasted. And there are so many things we can do to “be the change we would like to see in the world,” so many actions that could help to create a world of harmony and balance in our own backyards.

    Instead of battling and giving more energy to the system, we can withdraw from it. Pull the plug. Live simply. Drive less. Bike more. Buy real food (fancy that!) Shut off the lights. Eat less meat. (A little-known fact: the majority of the Earth’s greenhouse gases come not from fossil fuels but from the 70 billion animals that feed the Earth’s 7 billion people! Not even Greenpeace will tell you that. Why? Watch Cowspiracy and find out.) And on and on. Every person who cuts a strand of the system, however small, slows the march of death and strengthens the web of life.

    Katie is right that individuals can and do make a difference. In fact, they make all the difference—especially when they are working together. A group of individuals aligned with each other and the Earth will know as surely as a flock of geese when and where to migrate when the time is right. We all have inner guidance systems; we’ve just traded them temporarily for iPhones and GPSs. And when we pool our wisdom and experience, we can create vital, new communities that are part of the living Earth.

    Bottom line: We are as much a part of the winds and tides and sunlight and seasons as an ant or a flower, a whale or a bee. The most powerful things are not the sudden and dramatic but the silent and unseen. We need to feel these again. We need to reconnect with the forces that feed the Earth: the growth of a tree; the flow of a stream; the step of a bear; a bird on her nest; a dream of peace. In doing so, we reconnect with the heart of the Earth, and she can guide us home.

    While there is life, there is hope. So let’s take our focus off the world that is dying and focus on the one that’s being born. However small the gesture or action, let’s nourish that world. Let’s feed it with kind and healing thoughts; with productive work and service; with love and devotion to family and friends; with thoughtful actions toward ourselves and other species; and with the sheer joy and celebration of being alive.

    These things may seem like drops in the bucket, but they, too, help to determine the fate of the Earth. With enough people helping, who knows which drop will turn the tide?

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  4. Hello Coyote Trails!

    What a great, discussion-inducing article! Alex and I think alike in many ways, but I will add some of my thoughts to this thread as well. I am up in Banff, Canada, so my perspective may be a bit different.

    1) As for the first time in my life, I am actually able to go to the pub more than once every two months, travel a bit and get some good gear, I have to say, it’s a lot harder for me to simply say: Let’s give it all up, put on buckskins and go back to the earth! This was a lot easier pre-children and living in a nice community like Banff. And yes, sustainability is a wonderful soother for my consumerism.

    2) The ‘saving the Earth thing’. To me, that is all a matter of perspective and time stamp: When you go by human years, we are a blight, and the earth is deteriorating faster than anybody can feel comfortable with. And it makes me mad. Real mad. If you go by geological time though, and the earth is billions of years old, and our industrial revolution has been going on for about 200 years, we are not even a pimple on the Earth’s ass. It’s uncomfortable, but once you pop it, it will heal in a couple of (geologic) days. This is another very comforting thought to remain a consumer. The human years timeframe is very anthropocentric, and that kind of thinking is what got us in trouble in the first place.

    3) I completely agree with the premise that in order to make the transition (which will come eventually) more likely to succeed, we may need to help the collapse along a tad, while our biosphere is still semi-inhabitable. But taking responsibility for that? Easier said than done. Also, what would that look like?

    4) Mother Earth still being in charge: Yes, I agree, but when you look at some of the most recent natural disasters: The massive Earthquake in Japan, Tsunami and Fukushima (arguably the biggest natural disaster of our generation): Now, 5 years later, it seems like it never happened. The crazy ‘once every 1000 year flood’ in the Carolinas: 12 dead. So I agree, Mama may be throwing her best shots at us, but if you look at recent natural disasters, the human toll is, in the grand scheme of things, small. Maybe we have reached a level of technology that we are becoming relatively ‘immune’ to disasters: a recent massive earthquake in Chile (8.6 I think) was a minor event for that earthquake-ready country. So how will we, as a ravenous species on this planet, finally be ‘balanced out’? I think that is the subject of another discussion, but I don’t think Earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and tornados are going to do it. If we are to be undone, we will probably somehow do it to ourselves, either by conflict, economic overreach or by a disease that comes out of nowhere and moves a hell of a lot faster than Ebola.

    I’m the first to be honest and say that, yes, I like being comfortable. Not super comfortable, but it is ‘comforting’ to enjoy skiing this winter in my new gore tex jacket. That was produced in a factory. That flew here from Vancouver (ArcTeryx). That won’t actually make me ski better.

    My other self, the self that comes out when I’m training, tracking wolves, watching the elk rut, pretending to be on an 18th century expedition, that planned an entire escape route during the Ebola scare, that self is still secretly looking forward to having to give it all up and run. But creating the cause that makes that ‘run’ real, that is a whole different level of commitment, and not one that I am willing to put my kids, or any other children through. The world has ended already if you are a Syrian kid, and I don’t think their parents see it through a romantic, let’s save the Earth lens. They just want their kids to be happy, healthy and safe. And that is what I want for mine.

    Keep going! And thanks to Joe and Coyote Trails for keeping the home fires burning!

    Winter is coming,

    North.

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  5. Great words Katie.

    First – I’d say this author isn’t a parent. I used to be interested in the eco-terrorist gig – when I was 15. Then I had some good teachers come along help nudge me (painfully at times) in a better direction. Then I had a daughter, and my perspective changed again about saving the world.

    I try not to romanticize what it was like to live before the industrial revolution, or before the beginning of agriculture – which is really easy for people in our little sub-culture to do. I’d say a hunter-gatherer tribe 10,000 years ago wouldn’t pass on a vial of antibiotics. This isn’t Dances with Wolves – “survival” as a tribe isn’t a movie. At times I’m sure it was easy living; at other times, I’m sure it was really hard and ugly. Does that sound much different then our lives today?

    Real change comes from the inside. To those who would channel their inner Edward Abbey and use violence to hasten the demise of “the system”, I would say be careful. As someone who experienced a significant amount of interpersonal violence, I’d say that “no one ever wins a fight” (Patrick Swayze in Road House, anyone?). It can solve problems in the short term, and can be necessary to protect life – the basis of being a real “warrior”. But it can make you very sick inside, and turn you into what you were trying to fight in the first place.

    It may seem sexy and romantic to protect Mother Earth with violence. But let’s not forget. She’s still in charge! I agree with the author in one respect – we need to the listen to the lessons of Mother Earth. We need to train outside, walk the forests, swim the seas. Hear the wind, talk to the ocean. She is speaking to us. Remember Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Katrina, the earthquakes and volcanoes in Southeast Asia, the tsunami in Japan. Does the earth need us to save her?

    So I guess I’d say to the author, keep going! Don’t worry about “saving the earth” – just worry about saving your little fraction of it… your own backyard. Raise your child to be resilient, aware, respectful – and be a good uncle or aunt to the kids of others. The Coyote Trails community does a good job of this. And as my teacher tells me, “saving the world is like mowing your lawn – you’ve got to do it every week! ”

    Be patient, persistent, endure, aware, perceptive – and keep training! When it’s time to take action, you’ll know.

    Posted by AC – thru CT site

    Like

  6. All:

    Great words Katie.

    First – I’d say this author isn’t a parent. I used to be interested in the eco-terrorist gig – when I was 15. Then I had some good teachers help nudge me (painfully at times) in a better direction. Then I had a daughter, and my perspective changed again about saving the world.

    I try not to romanticize what it was like to live before the industrial revolution, or before the beginning of agriculture – which is really easy for people in our little sub-culture to do. I’d say a hunter-gatherer tribe 10,000 years ago wouldn’t pass on a vial of antibiotics. This isn’t Dances with Wolves – “survival” as a tribe isn’t a movie. At times I’m sure it was easy living; at other times, I’m sure it was really hard and ugly. Does that sound much different then our lives today?

    Real change comes from the inside. To those who would channel their inner Edward Abbey and use violence to hasten the demise of “the system”, I would say be careful. As someone who experienced a significant amount of interpersonal violence, I’d say that “no one ever wins a fight” (Patrick Swayze in Road House, anyone?). It can solve problems in the short term, and can be necessary to protect life – the basis of being a real “warrior”. But it can make you very sick inside, and turn you into what you were trying to fight in the first place.

    It may seem sexy and romantic to protect Mother Earth with violence. But let’s not forget. She’s still in charge! I agree with the author in one respect – we need to the listen to the lessons of Mother Earth. We need to train outside, walk the forests, swim the seas. Hear the wind, talk to the ocean. She is speaking to us. Remember Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Katrina, the earthquakes and volcanoes in Southeast Asia, the tsunami in Japan. Does the earth need us to save her?

    So I guess I’d say to the author, keep going! Don’t worry about “saving the earth” – just worry about saving your little fraction of it… your own backyard. Raise your child to be resilient, respectful, aware – and be a good uncle or aunt to the kids of others. The Coyote Trails community does a good job of this. And as my teacher tells me, “saving the world is like mowing your lawn – you’ve got to do it every week! ”

    Be patient, persistent, endure, aware, perceptive – and keep training! When it’s time to take action, you’ll know.

    AC

    Like

  7. I hear this individual saying that making a change starting with self is not a part of the solution. I disagree. Creating the change at home -> in family -> in community builds the momentum and gives an example to others of how to be living in a harmonious way, where then you can greet “the monster,” walk alongside it, and help it shed layers of what is actually slowly killing it rather than serving it.

    Pretty hypocritical to tell “the monster” it needs to change what it’s doing without ourselves doing the work to create this change. There need not be an “enemy” just because other individuals have a different point of view.

    The way these arguments are being posed is that you have to choose one extreme end of the spectrum or the other: Either being a rich consumer who spends their time on the TV or being a factory worker/slave being slowly poisoned. The majority of people are not in either one of these categories. The image/analogy came to mind: imagine you yourself being a great leader, where you would pick everyone to be on your dodgeball team, and working together to inspire each other to greater heights could then achieve what seemed impossible moments ago. Then someone walks by who has never played dodgeball but they are inSpired to learn your ways so you bring them in step by step.

    “a few people choosing to remove themselves from this economy makes no difference” — i disagree. For it may be those few individuals who detach from wants/needs being fulfilled by others– and find a way to be fulfilled in themselves– who stand firm in their beliefs and spark the biggest change. Like Mahatma Ghandi stood for the instrinsic dignity within all people, & everyone’s right to freedom & self-determination. People have forgotten what dignity, freedom, and self-determination are. They think by shopping and making purchases and attaining wealth give them dignity, freedom and self-determination. When really, they are like infants being ruled by the coorporations/economy/governments that are like infants themselves, the big bully on the playground. There are individuals who don’t know any other way. It is up to us, individually, to make the change we wish to see, and it starts within ourselves, finding & preserving Dignity, true Freedom, & Self-determination.

    You can’t dismantle large oppressive systems if your “feet” are not firmly planted under yourself.

    Like

  8. Agreed. Many a time I’ve thrown something recyclable into the garbage to the horror of an environmental friend. This article explains why I have to laugh whenever people get so caught up in such things.

    Though I’m not sure I’m ready to put on a ski mask and tie dynamite to dams.

    Like

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