02 January 2009

A simple warm-up exercise for solving the world's problems.

I've received some feedback that my ranting is too depressing and I should be offering solutions instead of just problems. I actually thought I had been a little preachy on what we should all be doing. Witness this, this or this for starters. I think I just figured out why my solution posts don't register as solutions: quite clearly, my solutions seem like problems. The average person (myself included) isn't much interested in solving the world's problems through personal hardship. So I've done some thinking and figured out an easy (easy in that you don't have to leave your chair and you get to keep your wallet in your pocket) first step. Ready?
  1. Scale back your expectations.
  2. Shed your sense of entitlement.
  3. Repeat.
The consequence of not doing the above exercise is that for us rich kids, a radical reduction in consumption will seem like a problem and not the solution. I happen to think that we're rather close to the edge of the consumption cliff already, and I'd rather ease myself down while there's still a rope to hang on to. But even if I'm wrong about that, my own sense of justice would require me to examine my notions of what is fair and normal for me to consume. I'll admit to not having done the exercise enough to honestly do that.


  1. You've hit the nail on the head here - I've never seen this phrased so succinctly. It seems the only things not seen as problematic by most people is the unfettered 'freedom' to choose among a variety of excesses ad infinitum. Oi. I'm afraid I'm not very optimistic these days.

  2. Hmmm. I don't really see us richies getting together and voluntarily reducing consumption. Does it even make sense for people (civilization)to take a cure that seems worse than the disease even if by not doing what you "should" you shorten your life?

    I'm not actually depressed about the inevitable crash we're facing, in the same way I'm not depressed about the inevitability of my own death. Perhaps this is just an example of "been down so long it looks like up to me", but see anything by Derrick Jensen for why any civilization needs to go. But careful, he advocates more than reusing plastic bags.

  3. We just watched Whale Wars (Paul Watson vs Japanese whalers) and I think our artist-offspring was inspired to do some ecoterrorism in her spare time. I can send you a DVD, if you like.

  4. Love the blog, BTW. Don't change a thing. Sometimes I say the same things you write, only when I say it, it sounds stooopid.

  5. OC, thank you.

    "and I think our artist-offspring was inspired to do some ecoterrorism in her spare time."

    I'm afraid my artist-offspring might just turn her ecoterrorism on me (I've been slaughtering mice, much to her horror). Perhaps I'll give myself a fighting chance by not introducing her to Paul Watson until a little later.



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