Thursday, September 13, 2007

There is no time to feel hopeless - so let's start working on our lifestyle today!

The sheer size of the problem of climate change makes me feel dizzy. Sometimes I think it is all too hard, and when I look around and see the incredible madness of our consumerist society, I also feel it is an impossible task to change the way we live. I feel despairing but I cannot afford to despair as I want our children to have a future.

The tree in the image is on our property. It was a big, well-grown eucalyptus tree, with wide branches. All of a sudden it died and fell over. We were not sure whether the drought had killed it or what had happened to it. It had clearly come to a tipping point. We cut down the remains and to my great surprise, the tree came back from its roots! We have staked it to make sure nothing (kids, dog etc) will destroy it on its way to recovery. To me, this tree is a symbol of hope, and I visit it when I feel overwhelmed by the challenges ahead.

I believe that we cannot stop climate change without major changes to our lifestyle. This will not be an exercise where we can wave the technological wand and all will be well. We cannot wait for the climate on our planet to reach various tipping points and hope that it will just resurrect itself somehow in the same way my tree did. We will have to make changes to the way we live and we will need wide-ranging technological investments to counteract the damage we have already inflicted on our environment. However, I do believe that if we get going and do make the necessary changes, our beautiful earth will bounce back and once again provide us with the most wonderful home we could possibly have.

I really like the ideas of Linda Cockburn and Colin Beavan aka No Impact Man who try to set an example by going to extraordinary extremes (Linda and her family went without spending money for six months while living in suburban Queensland, Colin is currently trying to have a zero net impact for one year while living with his family in an apartment in New York). Particularly Linda has been a great inspiration!
However, in the end what we really need is a permanent change to our ordinary lifestyles.

I am working through every area of our life to see where we can cut back, use less resources and be more frugal. We have already implemented many changes. It is interesting to note that initially most of these changes required an adjustment in attitude. Yet once they were put into place they became a natural part of our life and we no longer felt "deprived" only because we did not have something any more. It seems that it is just as easy to get used to less as it is to get used to ever more consumerism. I am sure I will find more areas where change is possible!

Note beforehand:
We do not own some of the energy-intensive gadgets that now seem so commonplace in many households such as a clothes dryer, air-conditioner or a wide screen or plasma TV. I cannot say I miss any of them. Air conditioners and the new gigantic televisions use outrageous amounts of energy.

Of course we still have our share of electronic gadgets left - computers, fridge, freezer, stove, oven, toaster, small TV, video, DVD player. Quite amazing to think we believe we need all of this. I don't think I would miss TV, video, DVD - I hardly ever watch much anyway. However, a life without computers and the Internet would be much more of a challenge. I have been reading about the $100 laptops Nicholas Negroponte has been developing for his "One Laptop per Child" project. These laptops use "innovative power (including wind-up)" so they need no fossil fuels to keep them going! That sounds like the way of the future to me.

So over the next few days I will have a look at areas where we have made changes so far. Some changes (energy efficient light bulbs, reduced heating, turning off freezer, turning off appliances at power point when not in use) were already listed in my previous blog entry "energy audit". All changes listed below can be done without any major financial outlay so there is absolutely no excuse for not doing any of these things. In fact, many of our changes have saved us money so that despite a tight budget I was able to sign up to the "100 per cent renewable energy" option of our energy provider.


  1. Hi there,
    WOW,fabulous, I have been looking into 'The Keeper' and I have sent the info that I found through your blog to most of my women friends, not too many keen to try but then most people don't really think to deeply about their own impact and just want THEM (who are they) to fix all of our climate problems, any way, another friend had jsut rec'd similar info from another source and told me about the diva cup, which also have great testimonials, so I just have to take the plunge.


  2. Lots of great points here. I would have split them into several blog posts and not had to worry about having anything new to post for about a fortnight! I too loved Linda Cockburn and Colin Beavan's writings and found them inspiring.

    When you feel depressed about the magnitude of the problem, remember that you don't have to change everybody's behaviour, just yours.

  3. Thanks Melanie and Julia.

    Melanie - I have taken up your suggestion and split the original entry into several smaller ones.

    I agree that changing our own behaviour is a good starting point. But I fear this is not enough. If we don't get a majority of people to change their consumption, our world will be a very different and far less hospitable place in a few decades. But I remain hopeful that we CAN do it - and I want to do my part.