Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Hump

Interesting to watch stuff melt down, eh? Yikes! Hang on to your hats.

After considering for a few days the reality of the matter-looking at what is the single greatest cause of my currently unsustainable lifestyle I am forced to come to a very important conclusion. The single greatest impact to the ecology and the single greatest obstacle to achieving "sustainability" is this--my employment. It is my driving to work, and the work that I do, that accounts for perhaps 80 percent of my negative ecological impact. If I could eliminate that, and somehow survive a pastoral existence on my own property, my total impact would plummet and be well within long term survivable limits.

It's not an easy conclusion, especially because I commute less than most, drive a much less consumptive vehicle than most, work in an extremely conscientious manner, and simply try to take on the lowest impact projects, using and reclaiming where-ever possible. I think it's going to be a pretty typical conclusion--I think for most people that which they do to make a living is far and away the most damaging and damning thing they do.

As difficult and preposterous as it may seem, I see really no way to achieve anything approaching sustainability without forgoing employment. This, of course, doesn't mean that one won't work. I expect the workload may well be much higher than we expect. I am simply recognizing the the model of "buy gas and clothes, drive to work, earn 200 dollars, pay mortgage, health insurance, go to the grocery story, buy food, etc.," may be vastly and inherently less efficient and effectual than the model of "work in the garden, and pick something for dinner."

But of course life is more complicated than potatoes for dinner. It is very difficult to avoid taxes, fees, and services unless one takes on a very radical lifestyle--and thus necessarily a lifestyle of alienation, isolation and exclusion. Currently, the very real lack of community that one will enjoy once on takes real and meaningful steps towards a simply lifestyle is in reality probably the biggest obstacle. I think a lot of people would be much more encouraged to actively scale back if they didn't feel, rightly, that they had to go it alone. Most of our social activities revolve around consumption. . .this needs to change!

Still, I think it's very important to note that in many cases and for most people it may cost 90 dollars to earn 100, and the real cost of living simply may be far less than one imagines, once one has finally crossed the "hump" and finally DOES live simply. To try to have feet in both worlds, earning a living and suffering deprivation isn't simplicity, that's simple poverty, and certainly not what we're trying to accomplish.

Here's an interesting link for the day.

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