Leif Reads Eaarth: Imagine...

Friday, February 25, 2011



Leif Reads
Every month, Ash and I are going to focus on one "eco-friendly" book for Leif Reads. To see what this feature is all about, visit this page.

Today's the last Leif Reads post for this month and hence the last post about Eaarth. For a quick recap, here's what we talked about this month. Ash started off with an introduction to this book's author, Bill McKibben, and the organization he founded - 350.org. Next, I mentioned two issues that we are beginning to face - the melting Arctic and disappearing islands. Last week, Ash covered an issue that has been especially bothering us for the last two years - the heavy snowfalls and how it is increasing proof of global warming.

This week, I want to graze through what Bill McKibben suggests should be our primary approach to the terrible changes around us. It's pretty clear we need to go through some overhauls. Recycling, driving hybrids, saving energy are all tactics we've adopted in the past. But we need to do more, and that starts with commitment.

For years, we have all functioned under the operative word called growth. We've gone from small communities to big cities, from railroad tracks to massive well-connected highway systems, from pocket watches to iPads, from marble games to online multiplayer games, from a stroll to a blazing dizzying run! Everything we've done proceeded in one direction - Forward, Progress, Growth, Expansion. Global Warming, Pollution, Extinction, Eaarth.

And that's just one part of the earth - the richer world. The rest of the world is playing catch-up. They want to be where the rich world is now. And after all, why not? Don't they deserve all the luxuries too? They do. Sure. I would love to see the world on par in all issues. But, the jaunt of half the world in that direction is what has brought about so much disruption around us. If the rest of the world catches up, there's probably going to be too much destruction to even speak of.

What should we do?
(Picture source)
Imagine a world where everyone slows down. Where we live the suburban life. Until now, the whole focus had been on advance. Now it should be on maintenance. The yesteryears were the time of youth - of experimentation and progress. The upcoming years should be those of retirement and settling down. That's never easy. I'll even be the first to admit that I can't imagine "stagnation". Progress is something we are all so used to. And yet, if we change our definition of progress or growth, it wouldn't be too hard. Why should progress mean more new and advanced things? Why not make it mean a better way of living? Theoretically, that is what progress means. An attempt to better the life you have now. It's what we focus on that should change.

It's a welcome proposition, but it's probably the hardest. Because it involves changing years of conditioning. And that's probably why many people have trouble with living the green life. Everyone has good intentions. Few succeed, because it means changing so much about the life you've lived so far. It means learning to downsize, specialize and share - like one country makes the meat, one country grows wheat, a third country supplies iron, and so on. Bill even suggests that we set aside our individualistic life and embrace the community, go to farmers market, trade gossips. 


9 comments:

bermudaonion (Kathy) said...

I think we've all become so spoiled, we're not used to making sacrifices. One way we could help our environment is eating local foods. Do we really need to have fruits and vegetables shipped from halfway around the world when they're out of season here? I think we also need to concentrate on re-using more too. Great post, Aths!

hcmurdoch said...

The last century is one of such massive advancement in medicine, science, technology (and yes, weaponry). I, too, cannot imagine a time without those advancements and more. However, maintaining what we've got, making people's lives better (read: fixing poverty), and paying attention to the effects of our actions seems equally important

Juju at Tales of Whimsy... said...

I would love if we stopped advancing so fast ;)

ashbrux said...

Jason and I were just talking about a lot these things tonight. I said this in my post but I'll say it again here-- I'm lucky to work with someone who can express all of these ideas so eloquently! And you are so right about these things. We have become way too obsessed with growth, which is why our cities are growing out instead of up, which causes a lot of the problems that need to be fixed.

ashbrux said...

Not to steal Aths' thunder, but you are so right Kathy! Local produce is one of the biggest issues in the environmental movement. Eating local foods is better for our health and our economy (not to mention the environmental impact). This is the topic I am most passionate about and we're planning on featuring a book about these issues very soon.

Athira / Aths said...

Much as I am a fan of advancements, I think we do need to slow down a bit. It's getting uncontrollable.

Athira / Aths said...

I agree. It really is amazing looking at life even 20 or 30 years ago. So much is different. But we've rarely considered the effects of our action - we need to assume that something could go wrong, and start paying attention to that.

Athira / Aths said...

I would love people to tap into their local communities more. Not just have a farmer's market as an afterthought, but make it the main staple. Even retail chains can help by trying to be more local and less global. We all have our own Walmarts, Sams Clubs/ Costcos, etc. These retail chains could try to infuse a bit of the local taste into their products and not put up too many shipped products.

Athira / Aths said...

I've said this before, but thanks again! :) We need to start obsessing on growth and advancements and how 2020 will have flying cars and gadget-clothes and all, instead try to make step backward a bit and look at how our actions have been affecting the environment.