Friday, April 22, 2016

The Big Lie

Growing up in the US, we've been presented with a package deal that involves a number of assumptions about how we can and should live.

A sampling of those assumptions:

1)  Owning and driving a car is a-okay.
2)  Heating your home with the cheapest and most convenient fuel (natural gas, propane, oil, etc) is absolutely alright (hey, who doesn't?).
3)  The only thing which should limit the size of your home or family is the amount of your salary.
4)  Air travel for work or pleasure is a-okay, and good to encourage among friends & family.
5)  Purchases of consumer goods should be limited only by the size of your bank account (or better yet, by the size of your credit limits).
6)  Whatever the task at hand, it can be made easier and more efficient with the use of electricity, gasoline, or diesel.
7)  Producing your own food is time consuming and not worth the effort.  Purchase your food on price, taste, and convenience considerations.  You needn't concern yourself with how it's grown or raised.  (Only weird people do that!)
8)  Your doctor (with the enthusiastic assistance of our altruistic pharmaceutical corporations) can fix any possible side effects of the above assumptions.  Car accidents, diabetes, heart disease, mental illness... you name it!
9)  "The Economy" is more important than "The Environment" (and you should vote accordingly, as do most Americans).
10)  Technology will fix the problems it makes.  If the technological fixes make worse problems, we'll use technology to fix those too.  If those fixes create still more problems...  Check out this "fix".  Yes, we're going there.  Things are going to be that bad.

Of course, rejecting any one of these assumptions is quite difficult without rejecting them all.  I understand that very well, because I've tried to reject most of them at one point or another.  Modern industrial society is a package deal, where getting rid of your car is likely to get rid of your employment, or where moving from a McMansion to a suitably sized abode is likely to bring a visit from the local building inspector, or perhaps Child Protective Services.  While we'd be fooling ourselves to think that we can avert catastrophic climate change at this point, fighting this system has never been more important.

In most of my blog entries, you'll note a recurring theme of "if we don't change soon, we suffer the consequences".   Well... we didn't change, and now the era of consequences has begun with a vengeance. The climate change rocket isn't just sitting on the launchpad while we debate its existence; we've recently achieved liftoff!  We've triggered the feedback loops we were warned of decades ago.  We've got an amazing front-row seat to watch while our world burns before us. Chances are we'll lose the ability to continue living. That won't seem like such a bad thing when the desire to continue living takes a serious beating as the beauty and joys of our world are extinguished. Was it all worth it?  Have you figured out how you'll justify your inaction to the youngest in your family when they inevitably ask?  Will you be able to look them in the eye and say (honestly) that you tried?


Lady Locust said...

I happen to agree, and the more one tries to opt-out the more difficult it becomes. We (husband and self) struggle with many of these issues as we consider the various options of down-sizing our home and increasing self-sufficiency.

David Veale said...

Yeah, it's a real booger of a problem!

We're at the point where the elephant in the room is our car(s). Getting rid of those means losing gainful employment, healthcare (thanks to our fine US politicians!), and likely the ability to handle major expenses (new roof, replacing workhorses, etc).

That in turn leads me to think that perhaps the solution is to eliminate those "needs", by moving to a location where horses would be unnecessary, or where our roof would be small enough that I could make it from local materials.

That had me thinking of homesteading somewhere along the rainy Alaska panhandle where firewood could be hauled via boat, in a cabin surrounded by forests where I could probably split my own shingles (Alaskans are allowed to cut something like 10,000 bdft per family per year from local forests), and get the majority of our food from the sea rather than tilling a large garden.

Would it still be possible to get enough food from sea-foraging? Would we go nuts from isolation? Will life in the ocean last much longer, considering the massive die-offs along the west coast these last two years? Tough to say. Everywhere has advantages and disadvantages, but the advantages seem to be in decline most everywhere.