Sunday, April 19, 2009

Things that Work and Things that Don’t

Suzuki trumpets these solutions for the world’s ailments. The Sierra Club, the Audubon Society, Greenpeace and other environmental groups swear by them. Here are their recommendations:
- Walk, bike, carpool and use public transportation.
- Recycle and re-use.
- Wash clothes in cold, not hot water.
- Install low-flow shower heads to use less water.
- Use compact fluorescent bulbs instead of standard light bulbs.
- Build high-insulation homes and plug air leaks in windows and doors in older homes.
- Replace old appliances with energy-efficient models.
- Adjust your thermostat—down in winter and up in summer.
- Run dishwasher only when full.
Sure, these are common-sense steps. We should be doing them regardless of the situation. But they miss the point, and definitely won’t solve any long-term problems. With global human population increasing at about 80 million per year (3.1 million in the USA), water supplies, to take but one of many resources, will continue to decline—the US southwest is already facing tremendous shortages— no matter how many low-flow shower heads are installed.
Here are some solutions that get at the root cause and, thus, will actually work.- Help raise public awareness of the importance of putting the brakes on human population growth. Contact your elected officials and demand action. Some good websites:;; Talk with your children, friends and relatives about a proper family size, that is, no more than two children. Check out: Since most population growth will come from third-world countries, it is absolutely essential that we help them with family planning and empowerment of women. Our politicians must make this issue a top priority and put much more intellectual and financial effort into it. Population control in the third world is a complex and difficult issue, but we ignore it at our peril. My next blog will address this topic.
So, are we going to continue to fool ourselves with things that won’t work, or do we tackle the real problem?

1 comment: said...

If we choose to keep doing the very things we are doing now by maximally growing the global economy in the noticeably finite world we inhabit, something horrendous will occur eventually. What concerns me most is that current gigantic scale and anticipated growth rate of the global economy will precipitate, sooner rather than later, an unimaginable wreckage of human civilization and/or the catastrophic collapse of the ecology of the planetary home we are blessed to inhabit.

Ten years ago, I worried about my grandchildren facing such an awful set of circumstances. Then a few years ago, it appeared children would be put at risk after my generation had completed a fool's errand in which a few million fortunate individuals took so many resources for themselves and left billions of unfortunate children with a ravaged Earth. Such a possibility troubled me because self-proclaimed Masters of the Universe leading my not-so-great, avaricious and arrogant generation -- a single generation on a mission -- have adamantly advocated that we commandeer, consume and hoard a "lion's share" of Earth limited resources and, in that process, have perversely condoned the relentless degradation of Earth's environs and the reckless dissipation of the planet's scarce resources....come what may for the children, coming generations, biodiversity, Earth's body and its environs.

Real hope is connected to doing things differently from the way we are doing things now by making ecology primary and economy secondary.

False hope and wishful thinking are regularly associated with keeping the global economy primary and Earth's ecology secondary, as it has been for a long time; with doing things just the way they have always been done while fully expecting things to turn out differently from the way they have uniformly occurred in past experience.