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Encouraging North Americans to Pollute Less, Consume Fewer Resources, and Use Less Energy since 2007.

(Better Late Than Never).
 
 

 

Do You Want It, Or Do You Need It?

Living in North America means for most of us that we pollute much more than other people on this planet. If all people used as much energy and resources like us (and they are working hard to get there) we would need several planets to satisfy our requirements.

Reducing our use of energy and resources by 60 -80% is difficult. Which of your activities are necessary to continue - which can be ended? At this site you can read often to refrain from participating in certain activities since they are not needed for survival. Those activities satisfy just what you "want" rather than what you need and you could do without. It seems to be hard or even impossible for many (if not most) North Americans to wrap their brains around this and come to a better understanding of their needs for themselves and/or their family.

"Life-style" and "living" are not the same. The vast majority of what we do in North America, how we pollute, how we waste resources, etc. has to do with our life-style and not with our survival or just basic living. To survive you need food, shelter, clothing, education, work, income, a social life, peace, justice, good health, health care, means to transportation, and a few other things I have not thought about right now. This is not much news. How much of each you need is a different story and this is where opinions differ. You may also notice that my rough list does not include having a lot of money, shopping, traveling, over-seas vacation, and many other activities you participate in. I did not say I will list what you need to have a "good life", I tried to define what you need to "survive". The rest is extra and I believe is is very important to understand this. Depending on the definition of "good", North Americans live to the most part (and certainly in comparison to other people on Earth) a pretty good life.

This is how I think about it: If other people on this planet could or can do an activity with much less energy and resources under similar environmental conditions - it can be done today in North America in a similar fashion. Not everything, but all that is required to live good enough. And probably slightly more since we have developed technologically so much, have increased the efficiency of machines, and understand better how things work.

With some rare exceptions, you do not need a SUV to get around. You do not need to use the clothes dryer. You do not need air-conditioning in your house. You do not need to heat your house until it is comfortable to be wearing just a T-shirt in the middle of winter. None of this was necessary 30 years ago. Other methods exist to help you get what you need (e.g. transportation from A to B, dry clothes, feeling cool/warm) that do not pollute as much or at all. You may not know or remember how right now. It certainly won't be as convenient, as fast, or as easy as before, and you may need to make adjustments how you live. Your choices will be limited. But, just like in other countries, it is possible. Reaching this mind-set is the great challenge we face right now. Everything will (!) change. It will change against you, or it will change with you.

I cannot imagine you will like to be told what you want and what you need. You will have to come to terms with that yourself. I am worried that many of us tend to be too conservative (in the sense of preserving the current wasteful and comfortable life-style) in their approach and will change too little. In my opinion the baby steps can be the beginning of an urgently necessary change, but they generally do not add up to measurable levels and often result in premature self-satisfaction. Nevertheless, it is up to you to decide what is right for you.

We will not reduce our ecological impact by 60- 80% without ending most of what we like to do in North America. You can continue convincing yourself that everything you do is necessary to live, or you can look at what you do honestly and rationally, separate wants from needs, and begin the mental transformation. 

 

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