Sustainable Living

Let’s face it, western civilization is gonna crash pretty hard within the next century if we keep trying to live how we live. Sustainability is something I’ve been getting more interested in over time and I’m curious to see what my “friends” here think about it.

Specifically, how would the average member of humanity live if we as a society were in equilibrium with nature as opposed to the reckless consumption that’s eventually going to lead to mass starvation and the destruction of biological diversity, and essentially throw us back into the neolithic era?


I think we’d live like No Impact Man.

Sustainable living is not impossible, but its silly to think people will individually make the sacrifices they need to do unless they’re forced to. Any sacrifices that westerners make will need to be matched by those in developing countries, like China and India, because by the end of this century, they’re going to be the main ones consuming and polluting overall. I have no faith in our species’ ability to keep an eye on the big picture.

In summary, we are fucked.

I don’t drive a car and I won’t have children.

Really, a lot of the problems ahead would be much much lighter if people wouldn’t friggin’ breed like bunnies.

I’m going to play Devil’s advocate here:

1- If everyone stops having children, humanity ends. Not a solution
2- Its funny seeing someone form a country that attacked the US (rightfully) for the human rights abuses and wars advocate for the violation of the human rights of people to have children. China already tried to limit “breeding”. Do we need to elaborate on how well that worked out?
3- You don’t have a car, but given 20 years, a billion more people will (China / India industrialization).

Oh, I don’t think everybody should stop having children or not be allowed to, because like you say, that wouldn’t solve anything. But I see so many people getting one kid after another before they even have a job or stable life situation to support themselves on, not to mention all the children in orphanages. I just wish people would stop and think about it, especially those who have access to birth control pills and such.

And Sweden doesn’t have a leg to stand on critizising other countries for forcing people to not have children. We had law enforced compulsory sterilization for minorities up until 1976 (yes, really. I was rather shocked to see it went on for THAT long, though). We’ll just bitch at others for going to war.

Edit: Ah yes, I almost forgot that we DO have some troops in Afganistan right now. And there’s a HUGE outcry because a few of them got hurt in a recent attack, and it took more than two hours before a helicopter finally managed to pick them up. Everyone seems so surprised that there were, gasp actual danger involved.


No Impact Man? I suppose…
[li]Producing over thousands and thousands of his three books[LIST]
[/li][li]the books themselves (materials)
[/li][li]Production (Electricity)
[/li][li]Shipment (Gas guzzled by trucks)[/ul]
[/li][li]Filming a movie[ul]
[/li][li]the materials
[/li][li]Production (Electricity)
[/li][li]People need to be there on time to film (Gas)
[/li][li]People are going to see this film (Gas)
[/li][li]The showing of the film (Electricity)[/ul]
[/li][li]Running a website (Electricity)
[/li][/LIST] …is no impact, or no point because he just wasted more doing these things than not doing the things he’s preaching.

To be fair he only challenged himself to live with no impact on the earth for one year.

the average member of humanity

If something happens that creates such a creature (I mean, there doesn’t even exist an average Indian, not an average member of humanity), I’ll be far more impressed than changes in consumption etc.

I agree that a 100-year horizon is too distant for people to take notice. Essentially, caring for the future entails someone enforcing you pay now or get further penalised. For instance, the reports on climate change predict a huge cost forthcoming, but ponying up the money to tackle the situation now (2% of the global GDP compared to 10% if I remember the Stern numbers correctly) doesn’t seem too likely. And besides the crisis that makes things worse, convincing developing countries to hold back when the developed countries have had their share will take some. (And for the record, Great Power China will probably make people nostalgic for Great Power USA.)

I generally agree with Sin that individual goodwill movements are of little consequence as long as BRAC and large-population countries don’t step in tow. Europe is an old continent anyway, renewing its population by immigration. In Europe the last time that fertility was above replacement level was in the mid-1960s.

I suspect it may all come down to eating the Irish, again.

Let it crash. Whatever. I’m too much of a heartbroken artsy stereotype to really give that much of a shit anymore. As long as I get to wear an eyepatch and trade up to a more badass stereotype, n’importe quoi.

When I said within the next century I didn’t mean within the next 100 years. I meant more like, between the years 2000 and 2100… and even then I’m leaning more toward 2060 than 2090. So, it’s more of a 50 year horizon before massive irreparable damage is done than 100.

Electricity doesn’t necessarily contribute to consumption. Especially hydro and solar electricity, they have little impact on the earth as far as I know. The real deciding factors that need to be worried about here are freshwater and CO2 and aside from burning lightbulbs, I’m not sure either of those are affected much by electricity. At least not necessarily.

I’d argue that we’re screwed. Hopefully, I won’t be around when that happens. I sorta agree with what’s Sin’s saying. People could achieve sustainable living, but the idea of it actually happening is slim.

People are aware that we’re way out of equilibrium with nature, but can’t really do a lot about it at this point unless some sort of catastrophe happens, forcing them to do something. Resources are being consumed too fast as it is now. Granted, it’s kinda hard to predict what will actually happen this century, but I can’t expect it to be all that well.

The contributions of hydropower and other renewable energies, on the large scale, are not significant. The majority of the world’s electricity generation is carbon based and will remain that way for a long time. Electricity is very important.

It’s actually worked out ok. China’s population grew a little over 36% from 1979 (when the policy was implemented) to 2008, which is comparable to Canada’s population growth over the same period (37%) and the United States’ (36%). That’s pretty impressive, considering that most of China is still in developing nation status, whereas Canada and the States are both first-world countries.

By comparison, India’s population grew 70% from 1979 to 2008, and picking another developing country… say, Brazil (62%), the population growth in China is obviously significantly slowed.

Hydroelectric power often has drastic effects on the local environment too. All throughout the South there are artificial lakes, old valleys dammed to produce hydroelectric power. While it’s not necessarily against Sustainable Living, wide scale artificial damming can have a great impact on the environment. It’s not exactly a no or low impact solution.

It also tends to have to be done in areas with like mountains and lakes and shit.

Am I a horrible person to say that I honestly don’t give a fuck?

I don’t particularly think everything will end, America might go through some hard times… Like the 20-30’s when it comes down to it the only way society will end in general is if a comet/meteor hits us or global warming takes over and cooks us in our shoes. Either way I doubt the end will be responcible because of malicious human intent. It’ll because of human greed and waste… Sad isn’t it, our shit and filth will be the very thing that chokes our world to death. As far as war goes, nah if Hitler can’t do it I don’t think anyone can.

Also an alien race could def own us if it wanted to, nah humans aren’t the biggest threat were all just to dumb to help anything.

Try 20 years before enough damage has been done and you might be more accurate, Hades.

As for sustainable living, I’m living in a county, which, despite needing to cut spending by about 20 billion euros to have a chance of surviving, just went on strike, essentially for more money that we actually just don’t have, and everyone knows that we don’t have it. Yet the majority still want to keep current pay and employment and services levels. People cannot look one year ahead collectively, let alone 20, 50 or 100.

We’re screwed.

Why only Western civ? I’ve only been in the “East” for 4 years, but that’s more than most people here, and I certainly don’t see any greater desire to conserve here than back home. Of course, people are limited quite severely by their means and thus obviously consume less, but in 20 or 30 years…

Actually, I would like you to elaborate. As Cless pointed out, it’s basically achieved its goal, which was to keep population growth under control. The goal was never 0 population growth. China is already gonna have a massive old people problem in the next few decades (you can search for the post I made about half a year back on that issue for more info) without enough young people to support them. If you’re talking about human rights issues, well…would I be going too far to say that perhaps we’re going to have to sacrifice some of our ideals of “human rights” to potentially save the planet? I can’t stand hearing pundits say shit like “everyone in the world has the right to live like an American” Honestly, I’m not even sure if we Americans have the right to live like Americans, when it basically relies on half the world’s population living in abject poverty. Should we be elevating other countries to American status, or should we perhaps be setting an example by reining in our own excesses first?

I know the huge majority of electricity is carbon-based, I just wanted to point out that the AMOUNT of electricity used is not necessarily an issue. Where it comes from is. Electricity’s impact isn’t inherent.

What I meant by western civilization is like… the essence of western development, not the geographic west. Right now I’d include China in western civilization. Maybe I’m an unclear idiot. I just meant American-based lifestyles.