May 8, 2017

Living As If The Planet Really Is Collapsing

What if scientists are right and the planet's systems really are under threat of collapse, or are already in a state of collapse? What if humans were the major cause of that?

Based on an evaluation of more than 1,000 previous studies, a new meta-review by an international group of 18 scientists suggests the Earth is perilously close to a tipping point where resource consumption, ecosystem degradation, climate change, biodiversity loss and population growth will trigger massive changes in the biosphere. 
- From: Scientists Tip 2025 for Possible Planetary Collapse

How would one live if this were true?

After writing this blog since 2008, and reading over 5000 comments left by readers (often filled with simple living related ideas and links), it is easy for me to riff off a few ideas. More than likely you have a few of your own. Please do share them in a comment below.

Living As If The Planet Is Collapsing

  • no flights
  • driving only when necessary, using a shared car if possible
  • eat a plant based diet
  • live and buy locally
  • conserve energy/resources at home
  • use a laundry line
  • ride a bike, walk, or take public transportation
  • work at a job that provides right livelihood
  • share things with neighbours
  • demand an end to all funding for war
  • go carbon free
  • promote the adoption of a steady state economy (no growth)
  • have smaller families, encourage childlessness
  • live in small homes, possibly shared with several generations
  • grow a garden, the bigger the better
  • support revoking the corporate charter of any company found to harm the environment
  • eat food grown through organic agriculture
  • foster cooperation over competition
  • discourage the accumulation of wealth and conspicuous consumption
  • consume to satisfy needs, not wants
  • enjoy, and be grateful for, every moment we have on this amazing planet
  • be kind

How would one live if the planet were collapsing, putting our very survival at risk?

More like a monk than a millionaire.

“Professor Stephen Hawking thinks the human species will have to populate a new planet within 100 years if it is to survive. 
With climate change, overdue asteroid strikes, epidemics and population growth, our own planet is increasingly precarious.” 
- BBC, in announcing the new series Expedition New Earth in which Hawking explains why he thinks humanity needs to find a "Planet B", pronto


  1. Anonymous5/08/2017

    I would add a couple. There are huge problems with the financial system, but your money can do some good. Look at the most ethical providers who do not invest in the usual way. Building societies, ethical banks and credit unions. In the UK this is easy go to move your money website and choose the most ethical option.
    The other is buy used tech if you need it and use open source software such as Linux.

    1. Alex,

      So right - there are big problems with the financial industry. Lots of fraud. Lots of corporate welfare. Best to stay far, far away.

  2. Anonymous5/08/2017

    'Use it up, wear it out, make do or do without'. I hope I've quoted this correctly, and of course there's the well know 'mend and make do'. There was a time not so long ago when even the string and paper used to tie a parcel was saved and reused, probably multiple times. We have become so wasteful, and perhaps ungrateful - perhaps the biggest change we need to see in the world is in our attitudes.


    1. Madeleine,

      Those are timeless, and will become common sayings once again, I am sure. We never should have gotten away from them. They are rules for living on a finite planet, and is there any other kind?

  3. Anonymous5/08/2017

    Great post! Finally, ideas that are simple, effective, reasonable and practical. My family and I are already doing some of these things but your list gave me some excellent ideas for new areas to explore. One happy note: my mother (and I) have always hung out the laundry to dry. I have suddenly noticed more clotheslines in our area. This really makes me happy (I guess I'm a clothesline nerd!) Living by example is, I think, the best way to promote simple living. You're walking the walk and people do notice. Right living beats preaching any day!


    1. Sophie,

      We love clothesline nerds. Well, nerds. Any kind of nerds. We are multi-nerdish. Simple living nerds, gardening nerds, music nerds...

      Right living is joyous living. All we can do is try our best.

  4. I would hate my life if I have to live in a very small house with several generations.Saffron

    1. Saffron,

      Thanks. You made both of us laugh out loud.

      It would probably be difficult for Linda and I as well. How about several generations in a big house? Or a small house on a big chunk of land? Yah, probably still hard.

  5. Playing devil's advocate here, but I'd be interested in your take on the question: if the planet really is collapsing, why bother doing any of these things? There's no doubt we could/should all do a lot more, but isn't that ultimately with the goal to avoiding collapse? If there's no hope of success, why try?

    1. JC,

      Jim Morrison said he was going to get his kicks before the whole shit house went up in flames, and that was in the 70's. But he did care deeply for the Earth, as evidenced by some of his other poetry.

      “What have they done to the earth?
      What have they done to our fair sister?
      Ravaged and plundered and ripped her and bit her
      Stuck her with knives in the side of the dawn
      And tied her with fences and dragged her down”

      It seems like a lot of people are aware of the gravity of our situation here on Earth, but have chosen to "get their kicks" instead of changing their behaviour. That is one way to deal with what has been going on for a couple of hundred years, and in the short term, is probably the easiest and most carefree.

      The other response would be to change behaviour and trust that it will do some good. I think this option allows for more joyous, harmonious living. What if the Earth isn't in collapse (yet), and our actions toward improvement make the difference?

      What if we made the world a better place, and it wasn't collapsing at all? We end up with a better planet.

      I think there is always hope for success. However, "success" might not look quite like what we had in mind. I am getting my kicks through being the change I wish to see in the world. Less cognitive dissonance that way.

  6. Great post. I agree whole heartedly. I do find it very strange that drying ones clothes on a clothesline isn't done everywhere though?! People here only use dryers if the weather is abysmal for a long time over many days. It's so expensive and such a waste of power... plus so bad for your clothes! You would never see even a new build here being completed without a letterbox, a path and a clothesline. As for the rest of the list, seems like common sense... I guess many people are lacking that these days :-/


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