The “We will be forced to eat bugs” question

This question is out there a lot. Basically some version of, “Why should I make reductions when the elites and the fatcats are jetsetting around consuming all they can buy, and we are just going to be forced to eat bugs?”

(In response to a post in one of the Facebook eco/permie groups, about solar panels covering up acres and acres of land, I commented: “Radical reduction in electricity consumption is a huge part of the equation.” Someone posted the bug question in response to my comment.)

“Why should we make reductions when Bill Gates is flying his personal jet everywhere? All the reductions are going to be on us, and the elites are going to force us to eat bugs.” The person also commented that whatever Bill Gates does could just as easily be done by Zoom.

This is something I often hear people say. And I can understand the line of thinking.

But: Reductions can & do bring great benefits personally. Huge money savings, and huge time savings, for example. And sheer peace of mind, from being less vulnerable. For example, learning how to do without electricity for long periods of time, with no hardship, is great freedom.

Also, there are millions of us, and only a few fatcats. Even if we just count the eco activists, and just the Boomers, there are still millions of us, and we have big wallets! Our behavior en masse is what will move the needle & shape the future.

Regarding eating bugs … Well I’ve eaten a few bugs and they’re actually not that bad. Prepared properly, they can actually be nice little tasty protein nuggets, hyperlocal, and nice and low on the food chain.

But to address the bug comment in the spirit in which it is intended …

Do you know who the last people being forced to eat bugs will be?

• People who form tight community, people who reduce their dependence on large centralized institutions, people who wean themselves off of hyperconsumerism.

• People who support their local farmers, people who know how to collect rainwater and grow food. And who know how to cooperate with their neighbors.

• People who are willing to stand up to their HOA’s. People who refuse to be totally dependent on private car ownership. And people refuse to be totally dependent on running water, electricity, artificial cooling, appliances, and all the other things we modern people take for granted are necessary.

• People who refuse to keep flying in airplanes. Or at least, people who decide to stop being dependent on flying in airplanes. Especially important for those of us who love our families.

I’m not saying those conveniences aren’t nice; I’m just saying we need to train ourselves to be able to do without them for arbitrarily long periods of time, forever if necessary.

And the more we are willing to make this training an everyday thing — to strive to minimize our consumption in everyday life — the more we will make a difference in the profit margins at the top.

If it helps to remind yourself that you are supporting war every time you unnecessarily burn energy, go ahead and tell yourself that. I sometimes tell people that, when they think I’m oh so radical and extreme for refusing to own a car anymore, and for refraining from using car transportation except on occasion.

• And people who refuse to buy more computers and other technology than they absolutely need to get by. Just what we need for communication, micro commerce, and skill-sharing. If even a percentage of us were refusing constant upgrades, the fatcats would be a lot less wealthy than they are now.

• And last but not least: People who know how to constantly find joy and peace and satisfaction in their everyday life. As opposed to needing to “get away,” buy something that won’t make you happy, etc.

PS. I am so on board the zoom thing! I’m sure pretty much everything Bill Gates or any other wealthy dude does could probably be done just as easily by zoom. Or he could hire locals to be boots on the ground. And I am particularly appalled that people — corporate fatcat, politician, academic, whatever — fly to climate conferences. (As a meme from awhile back says, if there’s anything that should be done by zoom, it’s a climate conference …)

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE. Something I thought of days after writing this. Inspired by more than one fellow environmentalist friend who told me they became burned-out; got sick of making sacrifices when they realized that all of their reductions didn’t even offset one week of a rich fatcat’s life.

And that is, we are not setting out to make reductions in order to offset other people’s overconsumption. That would be physically impossible, and no wonder people are getting demoralized if they are trying to do this.

Rather, the reason why we must make reductions is to reset the norms of what has come, in our hyperconsumerist “first world,” to be defined as a good life. (Basically the norms have been sent by USA American popular culture and then gone on to infect other wealthy countries.)

It’s not about offsetting; it’s about resetting the norms. It’s about normalizing living within limits. It’s about de-normalizing entitlement.


To bring ourselves in line with the physical ecological limits of the planet. (These have been widely documented by science.) We quite simply have a moral obligation to not take more than our share. We cannot use wealthy mega consumers as a benchmark. We need to use the 2 ton benchmark.

It’s already how the global majority lives, by default. What we in the “first world” have a responsibility to do is show how living within Earth’s limits can be done comfortably, with enough to eat, safe clean water, access to healthcare, access to learning, humane livelihoods, comfortable dwellings for all.

As eco activists we pride ourselves on listening to science, and on being fair and equitable. We must live up to our own awareness of what’s right and fair. We must walk our talk! I cannot emphasize this point enough. We will never be truly happy otherwise, and of course that gnawing dissatisfaction just leads to more consumerism.

My entire mission is about helping fellow eco folks walk our talk. My book, this blog, my talks & consults. And my house, which I have turned into a low-footprint lifestyle demonstration laboratory (visible from the sidewalk, and partly open to the public!). I call it my “Uncle Milton’s Ant Farm for Humans.”

You are not alone. There are many, many more of us than you might think. Take heart! And please don’t give up. I am 100% here for you.

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This blog presents topics as they occur to me. Typically in rambling fashion. If you would prefer a more focused, organized document, read my book DEEP GREEN. It’s available to read for free on this site. There are at any given time sometimes a few print copies available as well. I believe I still have 15 or so copies left from my last micro print run. It’s only available by ordering direct through me.

Also, I am available to give talks for your neighborhood association, community, church, club, or other group. My talks are by Zoom or equivalent, so I’m available to you wherever you’re located. For more information, click on “talks and appearances” in the menu for this site. Contact me and we’ll set a date!