||[May. 19th, 2007|02:26 am]
Kelly J. Cooper
I wrote this in response to something metagnat posted regarding noimpactman's experiment (that's the LJ feed; actual blog is here: http://noimpactman.typepad.com/blog/). I decided I liked it enough to put it here.
I firmly believe that, as a society, we cannot go backwards. It's more of a willingness issue than an ability issue, but it's also basic psychology. Once we have a thing - a car, a computer, an airplane flight - we do not want to go backwards to a time where we did not have that thing or where we could not afford that thing.
I, for instance, am loathe to give up asian pears. I love the damn things. But the amount of time and energy wasted to bring me an asian pear is pretty damned ridiculous. But do I have to stop eating them? The supermarket will still carry them. Other people will still eat them. Should I give up my pears and just seethe with hatred about others who won't? Stalemate? Yes, if you believe in the division between those preaching asceticism and those preaching technology.
But, if I seek a third way, that neither requires me to give up a thing nor leaves me waiting for a technologically improved way to ship me my pears, if I instead open a door to a way forward and find someone who grows asian pears locally, then I have changed the problem. I am not going backwards, I'm not waiting for the future to reach back and hand me a pear, I'm slipping sideways into a new way of looking at things.
I see noimpactman as an ascetic. He's going backwards. But at the same time, he is illuminating alternatives and opening the eyes of millions to options. For instance, the option to run our laptops on solar power - if enough people do it, the technology grows cheaper and cheaper until we can all do it. I would love to get a solar roof when we redo the house, but it's seriously expensive right now. But I'm keeping my eyes on the developments in the technology and maybe it'll be just cheap enough by the time we have to replace the roof that we'll go for it.
But we can't only rely on a few ascetics and the hope of science.
If, instead of giving up your car, you got a free meal for participating in a rideshare or taking public transportation once a week, you are moving forward. You are getting a free meal and maybe some exercise. In return, your company is offsetting its carbon footprint. That's a way forward.
It only takes 21 days of continuously doing something to make it a habit. If we managed to convince everyone in the USA to pick up one energy saving habit, we could save millions of dollars. And if we could get industries involved, that's a huge leap forward.
It was understood in the 1970s. You leave a room, you turn out the light. They drilled that into our heads and the lines to get gas reinforced that. I remember being wrapped in a blanket, dozing in the backseat, while Mom waited in line.
The technology makes it easier and the ascetics scare the shit out of us, but WE change the way things are done.