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.

Category Intro: Riot for Austerity

The Riot for Austerity is a grassroots movement of people aiming to reduce their eco-footprint to TEN PERCENT of the U.S. average. We help and encourage each other, and seek to take this movement viral.

The Riot for Austerity was founded in the mid-2000s by Sharon Astyk and Miranda Edel, two eco-conscious writer/educator/Moms. The movement takes its name from a phrase in George Monbiot’s book HEAT: How We Can Stop the Planet Burning.

Along with permaculture design, the Riot for Austerity is the other main framework that has helped me be successful in pursuing a low-footprint lifestyle. The Riot is also known as the “90 Percent Reduction Challenge.” You’ll get to read all about it (including where the name came from) in the posts categorized “Riot for Austerity”.

Category Intro: Permaculture

One of the core topics I focus on in this blog is permaculture design. Permaculture is a set of design principles, derived from observing nature, for designing your home and any other aspect of your life to be sustainable. By “sustainable” in permaculture terminology, we mean financially, ecologically, AND socially sustainable. And furthermore, we don’t just mean “net zero damage” to the environment; in permaculture we have a REGENERATIVE focus, seeking to give net benefit to the land and all living creatures, not just human. This may sound like a tall order, but with the basic design principles derived from observation of how nature operates, it is very do-able and indeed ONLY NATURAL. In the posts categorized “permaculture”, I’ll highlight the various permaculture design principles and some very exciting real-world applications, as well as talk about some key figures in the permaculture movement, which is a worldwide, grassroots movement.

Category Intro: Decluttering & Organizing

Somehow, even as a little girl, I’ve always been attracted to neat, well-organized tiny spaces. My family traveled across country several times in a small travel trailer, which might have had something to do with forming my aesthetic. Also we lived in Japan when I was about kindergarten age. Decluttering and organizing — both physical AND emotional — is a fun and juicy topic for me, and I hope to share some of the benefits with you. Many people these days are on a downsizing and “life-pruning” path to cut away what is no longer adding value to their lives, the better to focus on the things that matter to them most. I hope you’ll enjoy reading about my lifelong organizing & decluttering adventure, and the adventures of other people who have inspired me.

Category Intro: Jenny’s Personal Journal

In this category I take you behind-the-scenes of my life; the struggles, hard moments, just this & that of being human. The nitty, the gritty, the not so pretty. My lifestyle is my main example that I’m using in my campaign to popularize a low-footprint lifestyle, and if I’m going to convince you guys that this lifestyle is practical and do-able (as well as having great personal benefits), you need to be able to see the reality, not just the “expert” facade.

Category Intro: Finances; Financial Footprint

As I mention in my book DEEP GREEN, financial choices have an ecological impact just as do our eating habits, transportation, energy use and so on. For some years I literally did not have enough money to worry too much about any unseen financial impacts it might be having. But now I have some assets and am taking steps to maximize their green quotient. I’ll be sharing with you some of the most innovative and courageous experts in sustainable finance, and will be letting you in on my journey also.