June 22, 2015

Frugal Heaven or Consumer Hell?

A little slice of heaven close to home.

It's official - planet Earth is done. The only heaven we have ever known has been despoiled. And its angels now have claws where we once had wings.

James Lovelock puts our biosphere's predicament very bluntly in his book The Revenge of Gaia: Why the Earth is Fighting Back – and How we Can Still Save Humanity.

“If we continue business as usual, our species may never again enjoy the lush and verdant world we had only a hundred years ago. What is most in danger is civilization; humans are tough enough for breeding pairs to survive....but if these huge changes do occur it seems likely that few of the teeming billions now alive will survive.”

How bad do things have to get before people will voluntarily adopt lifestyles that the planet can support?

Scientists are letting us know that we are currently in Earth's sixth mass extinction event. They are also telling us that we are the cause. We are wiping out our Eden.

Ultimately, our desire for more and faster everything may lead to the demise of our own species.

The good news (yes, there is still some of that) is that those scientists agree with Lovelock and think that there still might be time to save Gaia. But if there is, they say, that door is quickly closing.

I look forward to the day that we close the door on conspicuous consumption, one of the major culprits in the current extinction event. Eventually it will be as socially unacceptable as other harmful, life-threatening practices, like throwing your feces into the street.

From the sounds of things that day will be coming sooner rather than later. Then we can work together to restore Earth to the divine status that it so richly deserves.

But there must be a sense of urgency.

The choice has to be made now. Part of the solution, or part of the problem. Live simply in a frugal heaven, or consume our way to a somewhat lower, hotter location.


  1. I like being part of the solution in my ever-so-humble life. Which means owning less, buying less and using less and living more. I love the living things I see every time I walk out my door. So much so that I'm willing to not use as many products to preserve the living creatures and things we have.

    When we think about entering into the Earth's sixth extinction, it sounds like oh well, no problem. We've done this before. But this is a very big deal. We humans have not done this before. The Earth is ~4.6 billion years old. It took millions and millions of years to get the growth and diversity in the life we see on the planet today. And it doesn't grow back the same for better or for worse.

    It's sad to think that because of our romance with having things, we could actually tax the planet so much that we kill our own species and millions of others which we depend on to survive.

    I think mass extinction is hard for many of us to grasp. Because it seems to be happening so slowly. But in geologic time, this is happening rapidly. Just in my lifetime, there are less insects, less birds, less trees, etc.

    On my hikes lately, I have been peering into lakes, streams, rivers and creeks. Looking for life. Looking for anything that moves in the water. When I was a kid, I remember glancing into water and seeing all kinds of life, movement. Fish of all sizes, crawdads, and many creatures I couldn't identify. I saw a lot of life in the water. Now, I have to look for a long long time just to see any life. It's not just one or two streams. It's all that I look in to. Life in them is sparse and few species, very little diversity. It scares me to see very little life in wild water.

    On a recent hike on a river, I was looking into the water for a long time. Someone saw me and asked what I was doing. I told them, "looking for life." They seemed curious and I explained how abundant it used to be and how hard it is to see any life in the river now. She said, she had heard they were going to stock the river with some kind of fish. Like that was some kind of great solution. Imagine having to grow fish in a fishery and "stock" a natural free flowing river with fish that can presumably live in it. Seems outrageous that we've come to this. Wouldn't it be better to stop polluting the river with waste water and chemicals?

    I have heard of re-introducing wolves, buffalo, etc to areas where we killed them off previously. And stocking lakes, rivers and streams with fish. Those programs seem successful, so maybe "stocking" the river would help.

    I am excited when I can see life in a river, even if it isn't much. Any life is a good sign.

    1. One of our biggest challenges is how our actions are reducing biodiversity. I read recently that Bison have been living in Yellowstone Park since forever (continuously since time immemorial), and is the only place in the US that this is so. Everywhere else they have been wiped out, just like in Canada.

      Oops. We should learn from our mistakes and realize that stuff will never replace nature's gifts. It is a shitty trade-off.

    2. A note to let you know I do come back and read comments. It is a lot easier now that I created a skeleton google profile and use it to comment because I can choose to get auto "Notify me" of future comments that post to each of your blog posts. When I was commenting anonymously, I didn't see an option to be notified. I enjoy the conversations in the comment section.

      Yes we should learn from our mistakes. I am living in a sea of people who absolutely do not know anything about any of the subjects you write about. I watch them do things every day that are destroying the planet. They absolutely do not care. I've attempted to talk, to educate about even basics like recycling and reusing and have been told bluntly they do not care one single bit. I don't try anymore. I just want to get out of here. They are killing everything....including the grass that is growing just off my patio. Noticed that today. So sad about that.

      Going to WalMart often to buy a lot more cheap crap that will soon be in the trash dumpster and hauled away to the landfill is a main event in their lives.

      I know it is not this way every where, I've been to those places. Some may still be consuming a lot, but are somehow mindful and doing a little to stop the things that are so damaging to the planet. This is not happening where I live, not very much anyway.

      Some say I should stay here because people like me are needed in areas like this, but I am doing nothing to change anything. Not by example, not by how I vote, not by my participation in local gov't, not by word of mouth, etc, etc, etc.

      Perhaps that is why I like this blog so much. It's a community of folks who are doing something, walking more lightly on the earth, caring about saving as much of it's natural biodiversity as we can. Thank you always for what you do here.

  2. Anonymous6/24/2015

    hi, love reading your blog. Have you tried the whole food plant based diet? This is the best diet for the Earth.

    1. Linda and I eat a whole-food plant based diet of sorts. We cook mostly all of our food ourselves with basic vegetarian ingredients. We are also trying to eat more raw food.

      Glad you are with us. Thanks for sharing your comment with us. Do you have some favourite recipes from this diet?

  3. Anonymous7/14/2015

    its as simple as too many people, over population, but no one talks about it, and people just keep breeding like rabbits, the earth cant take much more, there is already water shortages happening in the usa,


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