24 November 2009
This video is a lecture titled "Arithmetic, Population, and Energy"given in 2000 by Dr. Albert A. Bartlett, a physicist at the University of Colorado. Apparently, he's given the talk something like 1500 times and although you may quibble with a couple of his assertions (mostly about assuming steady rates of population growth), it's hard to argue with his main point that continuous growth is not possible. He says, "The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." You can be sure that any difficulty you may have with the arithmetic is being exploited by folks who are fairly certain you're not checking theirs. He spends quite a bit of time on poking holes in some pretty outrageous claims about coal reserves as just a few examples of "information" that gets into the public sphere without anyone bothering to check the basic math.
If you watch the entire hour or so, and I hope you do, I wonder if you will arrive at the same conclusion that I did; that the ravenous pursuit of economic growth above all else is the greatest risk to longterm wellbeing we face. It's the driver behind climate change, resource depletion, food insecurity and environmental devastation. And it's not open for discussion in polite company.
As there doesn't appear to be any polite company currently in the room, I'd like to point out that the current economic and political system is killing the planet and now would be a good time to stop being a good citizen and start subverting the status quo. First of all, stop working so hard! Work less, earn less, consume less, pollute less, and best of all – pay less tax. Don't vote for anyone who lies. This may eliminate all candidates. Too bad. Don't let your babies grow up to be MBAs. Get your kids out of cubicle training and let them unschool. Grow food. With your justice and environment hat on, start thinking about whether private land ownership even makes sense as a concept. Never take an economist seriously, unless he's showing you his garden. Boycott Christmas shopping.
Or else Dr. Bartlett and I have got it all wrong, in which case, carry on.
12 November 2009
One of my favourite things to do is to spend an evening in front of the woodstove at our old log cabin. The only light is candlelight and the only sound is us. We can't hear anything from outside except the train whistle a kilometre away and sometimes coyotes. We sit and talk and eat pie and drink warming beverages and that's about it.
Our everyday house (and we are not alone in this) suffers from a definite lack of snug. It's too bad because I think it requires extra energy to make up for the missing internal warmth you get at a place like our cabin. Or maybe it's just a warm frame of mind that is difficult to attain with dishwashers and fridges and LEDs all jangling our nerves.
11 November 2009
We moved the girls from their portable chicken tractor into an old goose-house turned shed turned chicken coop yesterday. They were curious about their new digs and spent lots of time exploring and trying to figure out how to get out the window. They'll live indoors for the winter where they'll have more room out of the weather. Of course, on nice days they can still free range outside if they want.
By this morning they had figured out the nest boxes and got right to work - five eggs!
06 November 2009
We're weeks away from the winter solstice and already the sun is setting before 5. It's the first week of November and the cold and darkness is weighing heavily on me. I feel like pulling the covers up over my head and staying in bed until spring, or at least February when the days become noticeably longer again. Or at an absolute minimum, until after New Year's. I can't even generate any enthusiasm for the annual Christmas rant, although I'm told it is as eagerly anticipated as The Simpsons' Halloween Special.Maybe I should just turn off the news and stop looking at gloomy websites and take up drinking or pot or high fructose corn syrup or buying lottery tickets or forwarding emails with stupid animated angels for the next few months. Ignorant bliss has never really been my style, but it might have merit for this dark time of year. I'd likely get it wrong, though, and end up in a state of ignorant despair. Probably I should just go for a walk.
02 November 2009