Archives for category: Environment

Check this out!

A great infographic on the advantages and reasoning behind bike commuting and/or general bike riding.  Go forth and cycle.

Watch and listen to this.  The sounds of years and years of growth, disease, fire, re-growth, hard winters and glorious summers in the rings of a tree with the help of a little bit of technology.

Recently, a friend shared an essay with me that dealt with “environmentalism.”  It’s a fascinating look at current environmentalist efforts, albeit a bit despairing of the state of things.  Despair aside, it has some important thoughts to consider.

It’s an incredibly long essay, and I don’t think you need to read the whole thing to get the gist of it.  Here’s a quick summary in my own words:

Environmentalists of the past were focused on preserving the environment.  They strove to keep the untouched wildernesses just that: untouched.  They longed to preserve Mother Nature’s mighty rivers, vast forests, barren deserts, and teeming oceans.  Their purpose was to limit human impact. 

In contrast, the environmentalists of today are focused almost exclusively on sustainability.  In the author’s opinion, sustainability is a dirty word.  Sustainability serves to find alternative energy sources, to reduce, reuse and recycle, and to make “green” cool.   

However, the author sees sustainability as merely covering up the true problem.  He argues that we have, in certain parts of the world, become accustomed to a certain comfortable way of life that we are unwilling to relinquish. Therefore, sustainability at its best is simply a means of sustaining our huge (and growing) energy needs.  This means establishing wind farms on thriving coasts and in pristine wilderness areas, erecting miles and miles of solar arrays in the deserts, darkening the sands beneath them, building hydroelectric dams and water mills in rivers and oceans, and harnessing nuclear energy.  All of these alternative energy sources impact the environment, the very thing that the original environmentalists wanted to prevent.

The author’s conclusion is that we are an energy hungry society and, as our numbers are continually increasing, we will only require more as time goes on.  He is not hopeful about a solution, believing that the time for effective change has passed.  However, he notes that if we reduce our energy consumption rather than substituting new types of energy, the global impact might be lessened, even if it cannot be stopped.

I agree with a lot of what this guy says, but I’m not sure how I feel about his tone of despair.  I invite you to just think on this.  Think about the impact that seven billion human beings are having on the planet, many of whom live in places where artificial light and heat, huge electricity consumption for computers, TVs, a myriad of appliances, etc., and individual transportation in fuel hungry vehicles is the norm.

I confess that I am one who is reluctant to give up many modern day comforts: I enjoy easy travel across long distances to visit my family.  I enjoy having a computer at home with which to connect to the world.  I enjoy being able to keep my fresh food in the fridge.  I enjoy energy-hungry medical procedures that are often life-saving.  But if we’re all going to hell in a hand basket because of all that, it’s a good argument to start cutting back.

As we continue to reproduce and use up every last bit of resources that the wonderful earth has to offer, we will have to drastically think the way we eat, the way we treat waste, the spaces in which we live, where we obtain energy and how we utilize what we already have.

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Today, I stumbled upon the microbial home, which is an idea of building a dwelling that operates much like an ecosystem.  Waste is used for energy, artificial refrigeration is a thing of the past, and in-house beehives are the norm.  It’s the first of no doubt many concepts to move us toward a sustainable future.