This morning I woke to discover that all my veges had disappeared under snow. I didn’t really mind – it was so beautiful. The thing that did bother me was reading the debate between Clive Hamilton and George Monbiot and watching the replay of last night’s Lateline Business interview on Peak Oil.
When Lateline’s Ali Moore asked Dr Bezdek what the impetus would be “for people to wake up and say we must do this now, not tomorrow, but now?” I think she was voicing, in her cool Lateline Business sort of way, what so many of us are feeling, in a hot emotional sort of way. A combination of despair and disbelief that the information is there, we know we are running out of time and yet there still seems to be so much denial and inertia. You feel like shaking people and screaming out “how much clearer do we need to spell it out!”
Simple Living’s blog addresses Monbiot’s call to reduce emissions 90% by actually going out there and making the reductions. A Year In A Day was listed in their post today as one of a number of groups who are actually taking personal responsibility. I always cheer up when I recognize that there are other like minds out there working and caring as much as we do. If enough people prove that “less is more” and that we can choose to live with less quite happily and willingly, there is a chance that the business community will also “see the writing on the wall” and be inspired re-invest in people, education, health and infrastructure rather than just products. At the moment Dr Bezdek points out that “there’s a real market failure here that people simply are not aware of the impending problems … and many of these investment decisions (like buying airlines), several years from now, may look very foolish in retrospect.”
watch the video here
Some of the excellent books that have been written like Kunstler’s The Long Emergency and Elizabeth Kolbert’s “Field Notes From a Catastrophe” do not end on an optimistic note. “It may seem impossible to imagine that a technologically advanced society could choose, in essence, to destroy itself,” Kolbert writes, “but that is what we are now in the process of doing.”
As Al Gore says, people on the whole respond to Global Warming with denial or despair. Neither response is acceptable any more. Instead of sinking into despair we need to take Grist magazine’s advice – lie back on the couch and repeat after NASA climate analyst Gavin Schmidt: “There’s a scientific reason to be concerned and there’s a scientific reason to push for action. But there’s no scientific reason to despair.”
I think the developed Western World is rather like Sleeping Beauty – it is waking drowsily from a 100 year slumber. There have been some real nightmares in that 100 years but none of them have been enough to wake anyone up. Now, however, the times they are a changin’ and sleep is beginning to be rubbed from people’s eyes.
In the meantime, we who suddenly sat bolt upright before the others even started to stir, have the good fortune to be able to explore the most enjoyable and effective ways to live happily in our Brave New World. We have the time to start now and avoid the rush. As I discovered today talking to Nada, sometimes the best thing to do is just stop thinking and start doing.
So today I registered my name on the new Get Up Climate Action Map and posted a blog on The Climate Movement site.
Then I thought about all the lists of things people suggest you do to lower your emissions or to use water more frugally. The Another Brick in the Wall video (see blog entry for June 17 ) reminded me to put a brick in my toilet cistern to reduce the amount of water used every time I flush. I did it and it worked!
Then I decided that I would escape from all thoughts of global warming by making my own sourdough bread from scratch – partly to avoid buying bread that’s packaged, partly to show my children how to do it, partly because it’s cheaper and partly because
making bread is one of the most healthy, delicious and satisfying things you can do. The writer Virginia Woolf, though she could not sew, knit or drive a car, could and did make beautiful bread on a daily basis. It was one of the few things she was willing to leave her writing to do and she returned three or four times of a morning to knead it.
This recipe is Cathy Gale’s. She originally worked at the Blackheath Bakery before opening her own traditional bakehouse in Toorak. Because you can’t make sourdough without a starter I decided to use the traditional French trick to get a starter going – fermented currants. To fulfil my baking urge in the meantime I made sticky date pudding for the boys. Over the next week I’ll get the starter happening and launch into the breadmaking.
All I had to do tonight was start fermenting the currants. To do this you get a small jar (about 260gm size). Put in 125g currants (preferably organic). Sprinkle with 10g sugar and then cover with about half a cup of spring water (to avoid additives that might interfere with the fermenting process). The water has to come right up to the lid of the jar so there’s no contact between the currants and air. Now I’m just going to leave it in a warm place, covered, for 4-6 days until bubbles start rising to the surface and I know the currants are fermenting.
You’re not alone. There are more of us who care and are concerned than you could possibly imagine.
But the big question is not how many of us care, but how many of us are willing to take action and change the way we live?
Together, my family are vegetarian or vegan and consume as high a percentage of organics as possible, we’re on 100% greenpower, we limit the number of car trips as much as possible, use PT whenever possible, buy secondhand clothes in preference to new, recycle, compost, and have all the standard globes changed over to the new compact fluoros.
And that’s just what I can think of while I write this.
Yet it is nowhere near enough.
Because the changes I list are just superficial. We still consume more than we produce. We still take more than we give back to the earth. We are still a burden on the ecosystem. And I have the very strong sense that we are running out of time.
I’m learning as much as I can, as fast as I can. But I know that humanity is about to go down in a big way. Our lives will not be anything like this 20 years from now, I am convinced of it. It is hard to keep up hope. But along with hope you also need a great deal of planning.
You’re right – none of the things that are happening are enough. We need changes on a massive scale. It’s time for all of us to start pressuring business, government, the person next to us … everyone. We are running out of time and we can no longer wait for someone else to do this.
And planning, as you say, is crucial …
I’ve just looked at your great Cluttercut blogspot too … added you to my blogroll!
My wife Julia wont eat commercial bread any more. She insists on the German bread I make. I use a recipe my German Dad has used for 30 years. He would rise at 6am on baking day and start mixing grains, flours, seeds, yeast and grapeseed oil. By 11.30pm he would remove the last of 30 loaves out of the tiny oven. The house smelt wonderful! Tomorrow is baking day for me.
And Winter Magic. I’ve been inventing my outfit. It’s called “Recharge”. Look for the guy in Katoomba Street with the windmill on his head and the solar-powered helicopter! I’ll be handing out brochures for the exciting project, Power4Community. Check out our discussion group http://groups.yahoo.com/group/power4community
There are so many inspiring groups doing fantastic things. Here is one in Ballarat http://www.breaze.com They have got a great deal on solar water heaters and other practical things for individuals.
After attending the Climate Action Network Australia conference in Canberra I felt totally depressed at the magnitude of change required to limit damage to our climate and ecosystems. Then I started reading Mark Deisendorf’s blueprint for a transition to renewable energy and got inspired. It is called Sustainable Solutions with Renewable Energy and is very accessible and practical. Referencing is thorough. Thanks Mark!
Have you all read the latest Nat Geographic with the wonderful arctic photos and the story of how the shrinking ice will affect the polar bear population?
Thanks for another thoughtful post. The future is not yet written. That’s great news for all of us. But we must look at both personal change AND political change for the complete solution.
Fortunately as Al Gore has said “the good Lord taught us to walk and chew gum at the same time.”
thank you for telling me about your blog. I loved the picture of snow in your garden. I just blogged about Perth’s lack of rain, but then the rain arrived. Yesterday when it hailed and my boyfriend said we should make a hailman, I thought how much fun it would be to live where it snowed. But I guess you don’t have enough for snowpeople 🙂
I was happy to read the debate between Clive Hamilton and George Monbiot because they were both providing solutions, but I haven’t read Heat. That might bother me a bit.
It is sad but true that denial and despair are rampant (especially apathetic Australia!). After ten years of dedicating myself to environmental and social justice issues it still seems like it is the same people working themselves into the ground for no money, no recognition and making huge scarifices for positive change.
We have to do a lot more than changing our lightbulbs at home or appeasing our guilt by buying carbon credits. Those people waking up now have a lot of catching up to do but with dedication and a belief that another world is happening, they can do it to!
Maybe it won’t be until the water stops coming out of the tap or people can’t access their money from the ATM before they will wake up. It is obvious that until thousands of people take to the streets we will keep heading along this path.
I am an optimist, not a pessimist, but it is going to get a lot worse before it gets better unless people wake up today and realise that this system has failed us. The scary thing is that people have been fighting for this change for decades yet not many people have listened.
Whilst voting for a change of government is a start the choice of leaders in this country is appalling and leaves me to believe the only real change will be people power.
We have to overthrow big industries and corrupt politicians who have repeatedly placed profit before people and the environment. We have to consume a hell of a lot less and we have to build a society on sharing, acceptance and participation, not individualism, competition and greed. A complete paradigm shift in thinking must happen.
Lets hope that we are in the midst of an eco-(r)evolution.
Lets hope the Hundredth Monkey Phenomenon is taking hold as we speak or else we are leaving a dangerous legacy for our future generations, who have no voice in what we are doing to the planet and ourselves in this present time.