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an interesting article from Autoweek, Believe it or Not by Mark Vaughn

A very astute and concerned friend sent the following article, written by Mark Vaugh of Autoweek, to me, and I thought it bore great food for thought and would like to get a discussion started in regard to its message.

"Just relax and enjoy it........

Many people write to me and say, 'Vaughn, I don't have enought stuff to worry about. Can you suggest some areas of concern over which I might obsess?'

Yes, I can. That's what I'm here for.

First of all, and don't let this upset you, wer're all going to hell. And I don't mean the economy or the car industry or any other popular areas of dismay. To really worry, you have to pull way back and look at the big picture, the long-, long-range plan.

Right now, of course, you can enjoy what you have. Enjoy your '67 Camaro, your '63 Split Window, your Dino, De Tomaso, and DeSoto, because there is no conceivable way that 6 billion peiople - soon to be 12 billion and then who knows how many - are ever going to be able to drive BMWs and live in the fabulous stucco eyesores that we in the industrialized world now enjoy. Once the rest of the planet rises from its agrarian roots and starts wanting all the useless kay-wrap in which you and I now wallow, look out. So enjoy it while you can.

When car companies, Web posters and expert pundits claim and countercalim the exact tonnage of CO2 or particulate matter, or whether this or that pollutant is produced remotely instead of at the tailpipe of blah-blah-freaking-blah, I have to throw back my head and laugh, just like this, 'Ha ha ha ha ha!'

We are all sitting on the poop deck of the Titanic, arguing about whether the deck chairs are made from sustainable hemp fibers or petroleum-based polyester.

Can you imagine a world in which 12 billion people (the estimated world population by 2050) are lined up to refuel their 18-foot luxury sedans? Right now, we in the United States consume (depending on which self-serving estimate you choose) half, more than half or slightly less than half of all of the world's resources, oil in particular. Yet with 330 million or so of us, we make up a speck of the world's population.

And there are people driving around in hybrid cars right now thinking that they are perfectly fine because they are destroying the planet at a slightly, barely perceptibly slower rate than the guy in the Buick next to them on the freeway.

Listen, man, if you want to do something, don't buy yourself a hydrogen-feul-cell car of an electric car or even a bus pass and think you're saving anything. If you really want to make a difference, the only thing you can do - the only thing - is to dedicate the rest of your life to population control as if the earth [and your life and the lives of your children] depended on it. Population control is ultimately the only thing that's going to save us, our kids, and our kids' kids. but that's the long-range view. For now, enjoy yourself.

Go forth and divide.

End of Mark Vaugh's comments.


Another friend of mine brought up the fact that obtaining new cars, be they hybrids, straight electrics, or whatever new "toy" the car makers come up with in the near future will use up tons more resources and leave our land fills filled with more and more dinasaurs...our old discarded cars...to say nothing of all the resources that will have to be used to create all the various kinds of fueling stations for these future cars.

My personal feeling is that both Mr. Vaughn and my friend are right on the money. We must stop and take a really hard look at the big, big picture and the future of the planet, our only home, Mother Earth....and let go of our needs to have more, more, more...more cars, more roads to run them on, more and different stations to keep them running, and more people. The planet can not, and most likely will not, sustain any of the non-sensical ideas that going for a different kind of car, riding the bus, creating light rail (as Seattle is doing), or trying to populate Mars with pioneers such as first came to America - which I have been hearing a lot about on NPR of late - or even creating little 'sustainable' communities, will save the planet. Nor can the planet sustain us at the current rate of our re-population. We must get realistic about wherin really lie the problems that we are now faced with. When this area, the Pacific Northwest, was still the backwoods, and I am old enough to remember that, it was alive with all sorts of wild life...now when you go to the forests and/or the beaches, there is very little wild life. When I awake in the morning, I hear only a smattering of bird calls...where in my younger days I awoke to a riot of bird song and the sound of critters awakening with the sunrise of the day, deer walked through my yard every morning and eveing, otters played in the rivers and creeks in plain sight, cougar roamed about and bothered no one, bear ate berries nearly along side me as I picked my share....however, Silent Spring is indeed here with us now! Now we have paved over their homelands, we have cut down the trees they inhabited, we have polluted the soil and the water, and we have chopped up their habitat so we can have freeways, McMansions and shopping malls galore. How sad, that because we have continued to blindly have far more children (who grow into adults that need homes and stuff) than are viable, the rest of nature is being destroyed! And, when it is all gone, or nearly all gone, we too will go, as we cannot live in our billions without the entire balance of all nature.

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Richard Heinberg in "Peak Everything" writes about the phenomena of living in our one brief moment in time gives us the false sense that the "normal" we see is in fact "normal." He points out that pre-industrial age humans would be aghast at our levels of consumption. I would guess that they would also be quicker than us, to see our lifestyles as unsustainable.

I wonder what scathing indictments the future inheritors of our gluttonous age will ascribe to the industrial age and in particular the late 20th and early 21st century level of resource consumption that the "First World" nations (particularly the U.S. levels) are engaged in. It is as if we are on some drunken binge, where we sense this can't be right, but we are too inebriated to stop.

I suspect our age will become a textbook example of a civilization that contained all the tools necessary to make consumption choices that would offer a better world for our future descendants, but we suffered from a lack of will to make those corrections. Instead we arranged our Titanic deck chairs, and made one last trip to the all you can eat buffet, deferring the hard choices to a later set of residents, who would be forced to make the difficult decisions that our indecision, gluttony and negligible willpower, made only worse.
Interesting and important topic. Don't have too much time to comment at the moment, but I always like to point to two resources that will provide much to reflect on.

The first is Dr. Albert Bartlett's presentation on Arithmetic, Population, and Energy, found here (you have options of sound file, video, or just text transcript):
http://www.globalpublicmedia.com/lectures/461

The second is Sharon Astyk's chapter on the subject in her book 'Depletion and Abundance.' If you don't have access to the book, the next best thing would be to read her blog post on the topic (and all the replies), "Talking about Population with the Old Men.": As a mother of 4, Sharon brings a different and important perspective to the topic.
http://casaubonsbook.blogspot.com/2007/07/talking-back-to-old-men-p...

Here in North America, we have lower population growth rates than in much of the world (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_population), but our rate of resource consumption is off the charts (http://www.mint.com/blog/finance-core/mint-map-resource-consumption...). The United States has 4-5% of the world's population, for example, but we consume 25% of the world's oil production.

So...we really need to address the consumption side of the equation. As you say Alys, "let go of our need to have more, more, more." And yes, keep in mind that even the most efficient products made tend to carry a lot of embodied energy in their production, and what is the effect of what happens to the 'old' item it is replacing?
I read Dr. Bartlett's presentation, and also Astyk's chapter regarding population issues, motherhood issues, etc. Both expressed very good points, and I very much agree with all of Astyk's concerns, being a mother of 3 myself....however, when I had my children, I did not have any of the knowledge that exists in today's world - my first child was born 51 years ago - had I known then what I know now I would have opted to remain either childless or only had one. Would that have caused me grief if something bad happened to that one child? YES, unequivocally yes! and, still I would have done that, because to lose any child would cause grief, for me or anyone else.

What I don't think is being looked here is that yes, we Americans use a porportunately larger amount of resources per capitia than other countries....and yes, that needs to change....and yet we are not an isolated group any more....we need to think of the world as our home, not just America. What we do here affects every one every where in the world, and that is what I think needs to be addressed. We need to look at the big, big, big picture....not just our consumption, but also our numbers, our greed, our stick your head in the sand and only see what you want to see attitudes, and most of all we need to realize that it has only been a few years - maybe 30 - 50 that things in this country have been as easy and plentiful as they have been for most of those under the age of 60. Because of this most people alive today don't know what it means to be frugal, to not be a consumer, to remember what it was like when nature was bountiful, and when nature was deeply affected by our actions (consider the Great Depression and its after effects). People in today's world have mostly forgotten how to live a truly simple life and when you do that, live truly simply, you see things from a far, far different perspective. How does this play into population control? It is all about attitude. We must, absolutely must, begin to take a serious look at our own inner beliefs and attitudes about what is owed us, what we have a right to, and how we live accordingly.

We have so deeply lost touch with the natural world it is horrifying and terrifying to me. There are so very few who would be able to survive in today's world with out going to a store several times a week, without entertainment, without getting in your car on a near daily basis and going somewhere. We in the Bellingham area who have lived here long enough can see what population has done to this beautiful part of the country...it is horrifying!!! and it all has to do with population. We need to put an end to it right here, right now. No more new buildings, no more new businesses to serve the many new comers, no more growth!! This can be done....we just have to decide to make it happen. My belief is that if T.W. really wants to make a difference in this city/county we must address more than just peak oil....we must address the whole picture, and we need to do it immediately and openly obviously within the greater community, through proper channesl, such as the county council, the building and codes department, the mayor, etc, etc. The Party Up to Power Down meetings could be soooooo very much more than what they are currently. The people coming to them already know there is a major problem, and many of them are doing all they can to do something about the problem(s)....now we need to find a way to take it to the rest of the people in this area!!! Make it a true community effort, not just the few, but the many. Do I have the answers to how to do this? No, but as a collective I think we could find the answers....so, let's do it.

David MacLeod said:
Interesting and important topic. Don't have too much time to comment at the moment, but I always like to point to two resources that will provide much to reflect on.

The first is Dr. Albert Bartlett's presentation on Arithmetic, Population, and Energy, found here (you have options of sound file, video, or just text transcript):
http://www.globalpublicmedia.com/lectures/461

The second is Sharon Astyk's chapter on the subject in her book 'Depletion and Abundance.' If you don't have access to the book, the next best thing would be to read her blog post on the topic (and all the replies), "Talking about Population with the Old Men.": As a mother of 4, Sharon brings a different and important perspective to the topic.
http://casaubonsbook.blogspot.com/2007/07/talking-back-to-old-men-p...

Here in North America, we have lower population growth rates than in much of the world (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_population), but our rate of resource consumption is off the charts (http://www.mint.com/blog/finance-core/mint-map-resource-consumption...). The United States has 4-5% of the world's population, for example, but we consume 25% of the world's oil production.

So...we really need to address the consumption side of the equation. As you say Alys, "let go of our need to have more, more, more." And yes, keep in mind that even the most efficient products made tend to carry a lot of embodied energy in their production, and what is the effect of what happens to the 'old' item it is replacing?
What if our tactics are pointing 180 degrees in the wrong direction? I think that those who benefit financially from the status quo are quite happy with our focus on personal and community change - because it will never threaten their grip on power and thus will never create the change necessary to stop this culture from destroying our planet. I think that Transition work is great as far as community resiliance and personal survival for when we start running out of oil, but it won't make a bit of meaningful difference as far as the long-term survival of the human race or any other species. I think that is a vital disinction to make.

From the July / August issue of Orion magazine: "Forget Shorter Showers: Why personal change does not equal political change" by Derrick Jensen.

http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/4801/
Rob,

Glad you're finding Richard Heinberg to be of value. I think the addiction analogy fits on many levels, and we probably need to apply addiction treatment techniques once we acknowledge our addiction. I'm hoping to meet with local therapists to discuss this idea for our 'Heart and Soul' group.


Alys,

Wonderful short essay! The current Party Up for Power Down events are only just the beginning of us coming together and rebuilding community. Eventually we'll do, on a much larger scale, "The Great Unleashing" of TW into the larger community. And yes, as a collective we'll figure out how to do this.

Stephen,

I don't want to spend any more time down that rabbit hole (but I did post my comment about that article on the Common Dreams site). We have no way of knowing whether Transition will make any meaningful difference in the long range survival of any species, but right now I'm seeing it as the best place to be putting my energy.

It's always good to keep in mind the Transition 'Cheerful Disclaimer':
"Just in case you were under the impression that Transition is a process defined by people who have all the answers, you need to be aware of a key fact. We truly don't know if this will work. Transition is a social experiment on a massive scale.

What we are convinced of is this:

* if we wait for the governments, it'll be too little, too late
* if we act as individuals, it'll be too little
* but if we act as communities, it might just be enough, just in time. "

Just maybe, the author of the Transition article at Orion may be right:
"In a sense the Transition Initiative places itself as a social tipping point, with dramatic and positive consequences where the sudden wisdom of communities breaks through the stolid unwisdom of national government.

“We’re doing work for generations to come,” says Giangrande. You can’t change a place overnight, he says, but you have to begin now in the necessary urgency of our time. “We’re facing a historical moment of choice—our actions now [are] affecting the future. Now’s the time. The system we know is breaking down. Yet out of this breakdown, there are always new possibilities.” It’s catagenesis, the birth of the new from the death of the old. The process is “so creative and so chaotic,” says Giangrande. “Let it unfold—allow it—the key is not to direct it but to encourage it. We’ve developed the A to C of transition. The D to Z is still to come.” Brave, this, and very attractive. It is catalytic, emergent, and dynamic, facing forward with a vivid vitality but backlit with another kind of ancient sunlight: human, social energy. "
Stephen, I read the article you mentioned written by Derrick Jensen...and I must say that I, who have been an activist in the past, so deeply agree with the first comment made to that article, and I can't/don't need to say it any better, so will just paste it in here:

"Interesting angle, but I have to disagree with the overall message. Placing blame on industry in my opinion only removes the blame from the individual, and thus makes it less personal. Living simply may not change or save the world on it’s own, but it is a symbolic start to a larger movement. We as individuals are responsible for the industry which seems to be to blame. What is it that “industry” does? It creates the products and services that each individual consumes. So only by collectively saying no to these products and services are we able to truly change our destructive path. Let’s use golf courses as an example, perhaps they do use as much water as the rest of a municipality, but why? It isn’t the golf courses fault as implied, but those that play golf. The golf courses wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the demand. This analogy can be used just about everywhere and helps bring back the responisiblity to the consumer and not project it onto some foreign concept such as the government or corporations."

It all starts at the bottom....with one person, one individual. Everything that has ever created any significant change, good or bad, in the known history of the world has started with one person who did or said something out of the ordinary. So, I very much believe that we, as individuals can and must make a difference. First with our attitudes, and then with our actions. Does the governmental and corporate world need to be changed? ABSOLUTELY!!! how does that happen, by people not participating in what they offer...one person at a time.

And, I must add something else to this - being an activist does not necessarily mean one has to do what has always been done, which apparently has never worked, because we are still in the same stew we have always been in, it is just bigger and far more dangerous now. Destroying something does not necessarily build a better something. It will always begin with a good intention and then, unless attitudes shift, it will always evolve back into something corrupt. When fear runs an action it is not always done with the best of wisdom. So, I think we must first take a hard look within ourselves, each one of us, and see what it is that we can do, from our inner, personal, spiritual self to become more in harmony with Mother Earth.

Also, here is a bit to chew on. I have a very close friend who is Native American, and not your average Native American either, but rather one very in tune with the natural world and highly intelligent and well informed about the not so natural world that we Westerners have created. Jensen talks a lot about, and I get the impression from others who are activists in a similar vein, reverting back to the "ancients ways." When many of the pioneers came to America they found a land of plenty, a place teeming with wild life, and of course they went hog wild and it didn't take them to long to destroy all of that. The reality is that prior to the pioneers coming, those who actually settled here, there were explorers who came...they brought disease and that disease destroyed much of the existing natives of this land, who had themselves destroyed, due to their great numbers, much of the wild life that was here. Once their populations were reduced in numbers, the wild life had an opportunity to flourish - which is what the pioneers found upon their arrival. So, this brings me back full circle to we need to do something about population....here and around the globe, or nature will do it for us, as there are just plain flat out toooooo many of us for the planet to sustain, no matter what action we take. Nuff said!



Stephen Trinkaus said:
What if our tactics are pointing 180 degrees in the wrong direction? I think that those who benefit financially from the status quo are quite happy with our focus on personal and community change - because it will never threaten their grip on power and thus will never create the change necessary to stop this culture from destroying our planet. I think that Transition work is great as far as community resiliance and personal survival for when we start running out of oil, but it won't make a bit of meaningful difference as far as the long-term survival of the human race or any other species. I think that is a vital disinction to make.

From the July / August issue of Orion magazine: "Forget Shorter Showers: Why personal change does not equal political change" by Derrick Jensen.

http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/4801/
I just thought of something that is perhaps highly relevant, Stephen. When one lives in a culture that values accumulated wealth - i.e. consumerism, true simple living is an act of activism . People in many countries around the globe aspire to be like us....they hate us for what we have that they don't have, and they love us because we have what they don't have. So, this country has set an example for the world and we can continue to do that, on a different plane. Let us not do it by being destructive, but rather by changing how we choose to live.......simply.

Stephen Trinkaus said:
What if our tactics are pointing 180 degrees in the wrong direction? I think that those who benefit financially from the status quo are quite happy with our focus on personal and community change - because it will never threaten their grip on power and thus will never create the change necessary to stop this culture from destroying our planet. I think that Transition work is great as far as community resiliance and personal survival for when we start running out of oil, but it won't make a bit of meaningful difference as far as the long-term survival of the human race or any other species. I think that is a vital disinction to make.

From the July / August issue of Orion magazine: "Forget Shorter Showers: Why personal change does not equal political change" by Derrick Jensen.

http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/4801/
Walter, I would never want to suggest that First Nations peoples did not have many ways of living that could be adopted in today's world and be of great importance. What I was attempting to point out was/is that ALL humans have a tendancy to over use, over want, and exploit...either nature or one another. Also, my information did not come from Raminofsky, or any type of scientific studies that may have been conducted....it is direct from a long history of Native Americans passed down through generations of their own teachings.

Walter Haugen said:
Alys - You are referring to the "bow wave" effect when you talk about the prevalence of disease wiping out First Nation people before the colonizers even got here. Ann Raminofsky pioneered this idea in 1982, if I remember correctly. However, the evidence is not entirely clear that this was THE major impact (a little bit of scientific equivocation here, as usual). There were all kinds of different modes of exploiting the New World, but the salient point for me is that the First Nations were at a level of mechanical complexity that could not compete with the invaders. Of course the fairy-tale, romantic images that many people hold onto are false, but the First Nations showed no impetus to get in their boats and invade the Old World, for example. Certainly, we can utilize some of the old ideas. For example, I hope to try out the chinampas idea from the Aztecs and I suspect chinampas could deal with Whatcom county wet springs quite well.
OK – I’m going to pull out all the stops here. I’ve heard is said that we in Bellingham are too polite to be honest. My intention here is not to offend anyone, but present something I feel very passionately about.

I’ll begin by emphasizing that in no way do I believe that the choices we make to ride bikes, eat organic, buy local, garden, etc. are great and part of a larger picture of change. My main point is that these personal choices do not and cannot make a difference in terms of the trajectory of this culture on this planet.

We are a culture of destroyers, takers, self-indulgent and addicted people. This does not mean we are bad people, but that we have learned and become dependent on destructive behaviors. This does not mean that we aren't lovable, worthwhile and smart, but it does mean that we have lulled ourselves into confusing personal integrity with tactics.

I do not know one person who lives sustainably or even close to it. I do not. Do you? I used to live off the grid, grow a lot of my own food, poop in the ground, ride my bike everywhere, etc. Even then I was nowhere near sustainable. But even long before I realized that my life as a modern day hermit was still destructive, I decided that I had a responsibility to the ecosystems that supported me and that part of that responsibility entailed stopping the destruction - that simply not participating was still being part of the problem. So I re-integrated and eventually started a business that, to the best of my knowledge, was the first all-organic grocery store in North America. The idea was to support a local economy by providing a market for small scale farmers and producers, as well as the education for the greater public as to why that is beneficial for their health, their community and the environment. This was part of a larger trend that today sees such things as Sustainable Connections, Transition Towns, the widespread support of local and organic food systems, and so on.

I think that these are steps in the right direction, but I do not think that they have ever or will ever have any effect on the trajectory of our civilization destroying the earth. I think this is true because (1) the number of people who will ever get "our" message are too small (a very difficult thing for us middle class educated liberal white people to realize); (2) our addiction to comfort is too great (almost everyone even at the Party Up/Power Down events still drove there); (3) we have done so much damage already that with things like feedback loops, bioaccumulation and a thousand other delayed effects it is really too late to just slow down or slow the destruction, we must stop it completely and begin to clean up our mess or else there is no future for us on this earth; and (4) there are too many people on the earth right now and way too many of us want modern creature comforts. Any one of these four reasons should be enough to seriously question the idea of personal integrity as a tactic for change, let alone that not one successful movement in the recorded history of humanity has ever achieved a political goal or a societal change through simply leading by example. Show me one - ever.

How much time do you think we have to figure this thing out? How much time do you think you have to inspire others to live like you or I don't even live now? How long do you think it will take to get to a point where you live your life sustainably enough that if everyone on earth lived like you do that global warming won't melt the ice caps, 1% of topsoil won't erode every year due to human development and agricultural practices, 100 or more species won't disappear from the face of the earth every day, that newborn babies won't have hundreds of toxic industrial chemicals in their bodies, that in 20 years 40% of the Amazon rainforest will be gone, etc. ???

Here's the crux - even if you consume absolutely nothing, even if everyone who is open to these ideas consumes absolutely nothing - we're still facing not just a power down, but a likely extinction of our species. PLEASE consume less - YES!!! But PLEASE do not believe that this will make a meaningful difference in the trajectory of this culture destroying the earth. PLEASE. There are few people on the earth who are even aware of the crisis, and fewer still who are in a position to do anything about it. We are in a position to do something about it, and if we don't any future generations will look back on us with a disgust and anger that will be completely justified. (The tactics that are necessary are probably not appropriate for the Transition Whatcom website, so I’ll stop that thought there.)

That said, I still think that transition work in general, and Transition Whatcom in particular, is great and probably a necessary piece of the puzzle. I love it, I support it, and I do what I can in my life to embody the transition ideals. What I can’t stand about this movement is that it perpetuates the myth that our most potent tools for change are our personal lifestyle choices. I think that only generations of self-indulgent, privileged, comfortable, and over-educated people like us (and I include myself in this) could ever believe this as a truth and cling to it with the fervor of religious fanatics. I find this line of reasoning to be as insane as the dominant culture itself. And I wish (and maybe you do to) that I could just shut the fuck up about it, but I love this planet and my son and my family and my friends and my community and you guys too much. I want a livable planet for our grandchildren and for the hundreds of species that are threatened to disappear forever.

Enough said. I think I’ll go for a walk now and then maybe eat an organic salad from my garden.
WOW - did I cut and paste weird or something. Maybe the heat affects my writing. Jeez. The opening should have read:

OK – I’m going to pull out all the stops here. I’ve heard it said that we in Bellingham are too polite to be honest. My intention here is not to offend anyone, but present something I feel very passionately about.

I’ll begin by emphasizing that I believe that the choices we make to ride bikes, eat organic, buy local, garden, etc. are are indeed important if not vital components of a larger picture of change. My main point is that these personal choices do not and cannot make a difference in terms of the trajectory of this culture on this planet.

We are a culture of destroyers, takers, self-indulgent and addicted people. This does not mean we are bad people, but that we have learned and become dependent on destructive behaviors. This does not mean that we aren't lovable, worthwhile and smart, but it does mean that we have lulled ourselves into confusing personal integrity with tactics.

I do not know one person who lives sustainably or even close to it. Do you? I used to live off the grid . . . (now the rest of what I wrote above should make sense - sorry about that)
Well, somehow, Stephen, your first writing made sense, as much as your correction, to me. I guess I must have read between the lines...........and thanks for catching your glitch. I think all of us tend to think much faster than we can write and I know there are times when I am writing that I leave out things or do not explain them quite as I would like to.

And, I want to say that all of what you said not only makes sense, but I agree with it in many ways. That said, I must add this in response to what your statement that "We are a culture of destroyers, takers, self-indulgent and addicted people. This does not mean we are bad people, but that we have learned and become dependent on destructive behaviors. This does not mean that we aren't lovable, worthwhile and smart, but it does mean that we have lulled ourselves into confusing personal integrity with tactics.' .....and to what Rob Olason said when he stated "I suspect our age will become a textbook example of a civilization that contained all the tools necessary to make consumption choices that would offer a better world for our future descendants, but we suffered from a lack of will to make those corrections. Instead we arranged our Titanic deck chairs, and made one last trip to the all you can eat buffet, deferring the hard choices to a later set of residents, who would be forced to make the difficult decisions that our indecision, gluttony and negligible willpower, made only worse."

So, now it is my turn to be brutally honest..................I think the true and sad part of all of this is that we as a creature, human beings, are "destroyers, takers, self-indulgent and addicted people" and have been throughout all known history. And, because of this it is entirely possible that as a creature of this planet we too may one day become extinct, and that day may not be so very far off. I do not see humans as a whole embracing the things that folk like those of us who choose to be on this website, attend and participate in T.W. and/or Sustainable Bellingham meetings, grow gardens, ride bikes, live frugally and/or simply, etc, etc and have at least a some consciousness about what is really happening let alone a strong desire or passion to make the necessary changes. I think we are first and formost creatures who love comfort, riches, and what the other guy has that is better or more than what we have....and that is not to say that there are not individuals who do not think and act like that...but, overall, as a race, we do. It is a rare thing for humans to live simply and in harmony by choice, and generally speaking it is only in small pockets that they do, and once those small pockets are exposed to what Western civilization offers, they want it, always to their ruination and the ruination of the lands they live in. I know this is a very pessimistic view point...and, I have been a history buff for many years and history tells me that although we currently have created much more comfortable life styles, better medical procedures (in some cases), and faster travel and communication technologies we have not matured much in terms of our emotions, our desires, our wants, and our behaviors. Many years ago I read something that has never left me, as it fit what I see so well....I think it was written by Toynbe, but that may be a faulty memory on my part....this is what was said: Mankind has technologically moved ahead light years, but emotionally is still living in a cave..... So, we may go the way of the dinosaurs, even if we all gathered together and agreed that we have goofed big time, quit just philosophizing about it all, and did everything just right right now, it may be too late... and sadly if we go down, it will be because we have so destroyed the ecosystems of this planet that we also take down many other of the planet's inhabitants. Does that make me want to give up, quit doing the things I do to live simply, hell no! it just makes me very sad and it makes me want to write more and more and more and hope that somehow what I do will make a difference - just like all the rest of the folk that are deeply concerned.


Stephen Trinkaus said:
WOW - did I cut and paste weird or something. Maybe the heat affects my writing. Jeez. The opening should have read:

OK – I’m going to pull out all the stops here. I’ve heard it said that we in Bellingham are too polite to be honest. My intention here is not to offend anyone, but present something I feel very passionately about.

I’ll begin by emphasizing that I believe that the choices we make to ride bikes, eat organic, buy local, garden, etc. are are indeed important if not vital components of a larger picture of change. My main point is that these personal choices do not and cannot make a difference in terms of the trajectory of this culture on this planet.

We are a culture of destroyers, takers, self-indulgent and addicted people. This does not mean we are bad people, but that we have learned and become dependent on destructive behaviors. This does not mean that we aren't lovable, worthwhile and smart, but it does mean that we have lulled ourselves into confusing personal integrity with tactics.

I do not know one person who lives sustainably or even close to it. Do you? I used to live off the grid . . . (now the rest of what I wrote above should make sense - sorry about that)

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