Sunday, August 7, 2011

Setting a good example

Enough with living off the past and the future. Live off current solar income.

We have a series of complementary problems. Peak oil, catastrophic climate change, and now the global debt crisis.
By playing the problems off each other, we can find a solution: We need to relocalize our economies.
Peak oil and climate change come from living too much off the past, in the form of stored solar income - hydrocarbons, taking it out of the ground and pumping it into the skies and the oceans.
The debt crisis arises from living too much off the future, in the form of mortgages, bonds, and various flavours of credit cards.
How do we fix it? By living in the present, off current solar income. By cleaning up our act. We're busy, of course, but the more we put off solving our problems the bigger the problems will get. Tomorrow will bring challenges of its own. There's no sense in compounding the problems we refused to deal with yesterday onto it.
Rapidly constructed coal-fired power plants in China are overwhelming any minor gains the Kyoto might have given us. In addition to our own massive greenhouse gas reductions, we also require geopolitical solutions. We can't solve this on our own any more.
Our best hope lies in setting a good example. The global middle class wants what we have, and will get it the way we got it, unless we demonstrate something else, and give them another story to be in.
Demonstrating our willingness to live in a world where ecological limits are respected is a valuable partial solution, and one that could have an impact beyond our contribution, as others start to emulate our way of life.
Now, one thing that we do really well is capturing the imaginations of people around the world. We have the creativity to build and implement viable solutions to this intractable problem. 
But we all need to eat. Get good at gardening or farming. Farm for your neighbour or your friend. If you don't have access to land, borrow someone's yard and split the produce. Figure out how to grow food now, while there's still time. That's a prime example of producing real value on current solar income.
It's time to set a good example.

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