(Note: I added a bunch of links, in case anyone wants to use this as a guide to some of the posts on this site.)
I started this blog about seven months ago; a chronicle of my personal effort to figure out where humanity is headed and how we might possibly change course. And I didn’t begin from scratch in May; this has been a topic I’ve pondered for a decade or more, often bouncing ideas off of Mr. X. And, as I’ve written repeatedly, it’s a tough problem. BUT—I’m getting it figured out. If I had that magic wand I keep talking about, I’d have a pretty good idea about how to wave it around. Problem after problem has yielded; it’s amazing how a week of study and pondering and “sleeping on it” can clarify an issue. As I learn more, the pieces have been falling into place even faster. Of the millions of possible future paths, huge swaths of them can be quickly carved away as unworkable or as dead ends. Mankind isn’t going to colonize the stars, (at least not any time soon) (good Tom Murphy post), we aren’t going to ditch the free-market, we aren’t going to all hold hands together and sing Kum-ba-ya and be able to fix the issues that face us. We can’t go backward and reject technology and efficiency, and yet we have to be careful about going forward, toward ever more consumption and planetary impact. We can’t depend on fusion or fast reactors (and perhaps not fission, either), or vertical farms, or living in the sea. And as we ponder, we have to realize that the entire system is in motion, with incredible momentum. We’re like kayakers in a turbulent, fast-moving river, with limited ability to maneuver; only if we start early enough we can set course toward the spots ahead where we can shoot the rapids and avoid being dashed on the rocks.
So, I’ve written about seventy posts, and I haven’t had to change my mind about much (one big reversal centered around self-sufficiency; clarified thinking here). And, the vision meshes; the ideas all work with one another. The answers to most of our problems exist; we just need to build the world we need. Net-zero houses, permaculture, electric vehicles, renewable energy, reduced consumption, off-shore and onshore wind, stricter building efficiency codes, PV and thermal solar, DC transmission lines, time-of-use pricing, the power of consumer demand and targeted investing, efficiency and conservation, habitat protection, fairer trade systems, shifts away from materialism and moves toward more meaningful lifestyles, the power of millions acting in concert, smart grids, vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology, recycling and circular systems, organic agriculture, pumped hydro and other grid-scale storage, using fossil fuels to transition, reduced meat consumption, the list goes on. The answers are out there, and the path forward is possible.
And, though I initially felt alone, in the last seven months I’ve realized how many tens of thousands of other people out there are also pushing in these same directions. Some are focused in a little too closely, and sometimes miss the forest for the trees, but their hearts are in the right place. There are permaculture groups and renewable power groups and off-grid-living groups and myriad others, all using social media and spreading the word. And, I get the feeling that for every person out there who is actively involved, there are tens or hundreds that care, and are paying attention.
There are still trouble spots; glitches in the vision. Among them, how zero-growth would work, economically. Other changes ahead are perfectly possible to envision, but getting them to happen might be the difficult part, such as a carbon tax, or the need to dramatically reduce air travel. But, my main point—none of it is really a mystery. So, my plea for today—join the movement. There are a million tiny parts to play, and it’s all work that needs done. I’m something of a generalist, and spend most of my time figuring out how the parts all fit together, but we need the experts, too. So get involved. Plant a nut tree, install a solar panel, ride a bike, take a hike, insulate your house, learn about wildlife or soil or forest conservation efforts in your area, ask your power company about purchasing renewable electricity, get a pellet stove, quit buying factory-farmed meat, and realize that life’s meaning lies in your friends and experiences, and not in material possessions. While you’re at it, pick something and become an expert at it, and share your knowledge with others.
And, keep an eye on the big picture as you do it. I’ll help with that part.
Top image credit: zabelin / 123RF Stock Photo