While the focus of this blog is very much on energy-efficient homes, I am finding myself increasingly drawn towards what we are actually doing to combat climate change. Maybe when I have the resources this might break away into another blog but for now I'll keep it under the House Planning Help banner.
Climate change is such a huge topic to think about, let alone tackle, that it quickly becomes overwhelming. It's not helped that scientists seem unable to offer any concrete proof, to silence the doubters, that we are to blame. Even if we are free from blame, which I find very hard to believe, we are heading into a world where things are changing. There are three very significant factors upon which everyone should agree:
-Fossil fuel reserves are running out. Even though what remains in the ground could sustain us for many years to come, the cost of extracting these resources will be increasingly expensive.
-The world's human population is rising. This will only add to our struggle to maintain resources as we also begin to realise that the earth has a finite amount of space, too.
-Eco systems are changing. While our species is still multiplying, numbers of many other animals are in chronic decline. The way things worked in the past is not a given for the future.
We Need a Stronger Online Community Spreading the Message of Incremental Action
This situation can seem pretty desperate and with no global plan in place, it's easy to despair. That's why I wrote this article about why content marketing is crucial to the fight against climate change. I believe the Internet is one of our greatest tools for influence in the 21st century (and our next podcast goes into this in more depth). Gone are the days of protesting on the streets. I think it's time to flood the Internet with messages of action. Even if you didn't fully grasp my article about content marketing, the premise was one of showing the world what we are all doing. At the moment there is a problem here, in that I don't think we're really doing anything!
However, that does not mean that everyone is idle. We each have a personal power and I bet that a handful of individuals are already more inline with this future lifestyle. It is one of my goals to find these people and tell their stories.
Anyway the Internet gives everybody a voice and that's why my next podcast episode is about providing the resources for anyone that wants to get started on creating a platform.
It is important that the people that care get their voices heard. That's why I'm doing this. I don't particularly like straying from the purpose of this blog but as I believe this could really make a difference, I am going to do it.
We All Have a Personal Power to Act Today
This brings me to some thoughts about what I could do with my life to lessen the impact of climate change. This is definitely work in progress, but I know that everything that follows is within the bounds of my power and now. I'm trying to come up with a new lifestyle that I could live by. As a single person, it would make very little difference but I don't believe anyone can recommend a lifestyle change unless they themselves have successfully adopted it. A large scale adoption of lifestyle change would make an impact.
Already I believe I have many habits that encourage energy saving. These are tips that are widely available on websites such as the Energy Saving Trust but how much more could I do if I really wanted to?
Sacrifice Now or Painful Change Later
Welcome to my lifestyle workshop! These are a few thoughts that I've had so far about scaling down my life without it having a dramatic impact on my enjoyment of life. It will definitely involve sacrifice but hopefully nothing that will really hurt.
Before I kick off, I wanted to say that I do not see myself making any cutbacks on Internet usage. In fact I think it's going to be the tool that helps us make big savings elsewhere.
1. Be mindful where to live – in Western society it has been a great freedom of the recent past to travel anywhere and whenever we fancy, but if I were more mindful about where I live and tried to encourage family and friends into one place, could I then settle in that area? It's not saying that I lose contact with any other friends but that I tell them my beliefs that I no longer wish to travel out of my area. I start to grow two distinct relationships. Those who are part of my immediate community/family within a 10-20 mile radius and those who are part of my online world and live anywhere else (although I very rarely see them). I have a relationship with a few people like this already and to be fair, it's really good – I sometimes forget that I haven't met them in the flesh for ages!
2. Work at home (or near home) – I am sure this is the way many companies will be going anyway. Where people are not physically needed to attend an office but perform tasks, they will be able to contribute over the Internet. The rise of virtual businesses and the use of virtual assistants shows how this is already a possibility. If I don't like the idea of working from home, then I must work near to where I live, ideally within walking or cycling distance.
3. Reduce car journeys to a minimum. If everything I need is in the immediate vicinity, then the car is something that I should always be trying to make obsolete. While selling the car might be a step too far, it would be a way to get to curb unnecessary travel. Could resource sharing be an option within a community?
4. Become a vegetarian – although many of us are meat eaters we do not need it to survive. If I really wanted to I could go veggie. This would be hard for a person whose favourite food is bacon! But I believe I could do it or maybe scale it down to once a week instead of once a day. If I could become connected with the process rather than the easy option of buying from the local supermarket then that might naturally deter me anyway.
5. No more holidays abroad – as fuel prices escalate this may become a reality anyway. Again, this could be something to scale back on. I know my wife lives for holidays so I might be very unpopular, but it could be done if we really wanted to do it. Perhaps sabbaticals would replace holidays, taking a change of scenery for a few months, particularly if the Internet business is working fully and freeing us from being in a specific location.
6. Optimise daylight hours – go to bed when the sun goes down and get up when the sun rises. Clearly this may not always work but I should never waste any free sunlight! As my property is not a low energy building yet, I could think about spending more time in communal spaces where the resources would be used anyway. Or I could try to go around to local friends more often.
7. Embrace hobbies that connect us with nature – life has become too far removed. We must never let ourselves get like this again. As we spend increasing amounts of time online, it is more important than ever to get outdoors and also to remember our physiological needs.
8. Cut out the long bath in favour of a quick shower – the purpose is to clean ourselves rather than pamper ourselves. I think I could easily live with a bath once or twice a year! Easy.
9. Drink water instead of tea and coffee – no doubt there are many other savings to be made in choosing what foods we eat.
Selfless Action is Necessary
The challenge with all this is that it requires us to be selfless. We know we have it all at the moment and of course, we don't want to let go. However, I'm not sure this path is heading to a very nice place. Ultimately humanity has to change. We can make an easier transition now or leave a very unpleasant situation for a future generation to deal with when our current interdependencies falter.
What lifestyle changes do you think could make a big difference? Have you made any lifestyle changes in the last 10 years?