Bad News First

This blog, like my DEEP GREEN book, is intended as a practical resource for low-footprint living. The overall tone and message of both my blog and my book is upbeat and can-do. But I kicked the book off with bad news, and now I’m going to do the same with this blog.

Why would I do that? To get the bad news out of the way up-front and then not dwell on it. Once we wrap our brains around the problem, we can get on with the business of living in a creative, proactive, solution-focused manner. Even if the solution doesn’t work out in the end, living a solution-focused life has great value.

In that spirit, I offer you two major magazine articles about why human life on this planet is doomed, possibly in our lifetimes. Both articles contend that the human race has just about certainly sealed its fate by not curbing its carbon emissions. These are the two most disheartening, and persuasive, articles that I’ve come across on this subject.

The first article is The Uninhabitable Earth, by David Wallace-Wells for New York Magazine. It describes catastrophic changes in the environment — some predicted with high probability; many happening already.

The second article is Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change, by Nathaniel Rich for the New York Times. It focuses on the political background of our failure to arrest climate change. Apparently people knew about climate change as far back as the late 1800s! We just kept losing the communication thread, and never managed to muster the political will to take corrective measures while we had a time window to do so.

Both articles are quite long. If you feel you already know enough about the planetary situation; if you simply want to start reducing your footprint without pondering the gravity of things; or if facing the catastrophe has a paralyzing effect on you, feel free to skip the articles or save them for another time. You can get the full benefits of this blog without ever reading about climate change, or even thinking about it.

That said, you might be interested to learn that both articles end on a note of hope.

The first article: “And yet, improbably, Ward is an optimist. So are Broecker and Hansen and many of the other scientists I spoke to. We have not developed much of a religion of meaning around climate change that might comfort us, or give us purpose, in the face of possible annihilation. But climate scientists have a strange kind of faith: We will find a way to forestall radical warming, they say, because we must.”

The second article: “It is true that much of the damage that might have been avoided is now inevitable. And Pomerance is not the romantic he once was. But he still believes that it might not be too late to preserve some semblance of the world as we know it. Human nature has brought us to this place; perhaps human nature will one day bring us through. Rational argument has failed in a rout. Let irrational optimism have a turn. It is also human nature, after all, to hope.”

Irrational optimism aside, at this point you might well ask: If we’ve crossed the point of no return as the climate scientists claim, what’s the point in striving to minimize one’s footprint? Glad you asked! Besides the fact that doing one’s part to try to avoid eco-catastrophe is just the right thing to do, there’s also the fact that a low-footprint lifestyle brings great personal benefits, including:

• radically reduce your cost of living, put money in your pocket
• free up lots of time
• lose weight, get in shape
• hone your senses
• sharpen your mind
• boost your household disaster-preparedness
• gain valuable & enjoyable new skills
• improve your neighborhood, build community
• boost your immune system
• get more joy out of life
• strengthen your intuition
• improve your relationships
• reduce doctor visits
• more effectively manage anxiety & depression
• find a right livelihood, create the means to start your own business
• boost your peace of mind

In the course of reducing my footprint for environmental reasons, I discovered I was getting all of the above benefits and more. That’s why I wrote my book and why I started this blog.

I do find it interesting that both of those frightening and discouraging magazine articles, after setting forth a dire reality, end on a note of hope. And, I share that hope. You probably do too, or at least you want to. Otherwise you most likely wouldn’t be here. Thanks for showing up! I’m here to support you.