• How’s your eco-guilt?

    planet earth globe in dark background
    (Photo by Simone Busatto)

    Are you doing your bit? Did you put the right plastic in the recycling bin? Was anyone watching? 

    This isn’t an eco post

    You’ll find plenty of eco-outrage on Facebook. This post isn’t about that. It’s about the effects of this reality on us. It’s about stress – that other elephant in the room. Just how much have we stored up – collectively – since industrialisation?

    Enough for a planet-sized shrink

    Some depressing words for you: deforestation, pollution, extinction, contamination. Don’t stop reading! What do they bring to your mind? 

    Feeling stressed yet?

    Not all of us are tree huggers or Attenborough wannabes. Some of us are lazy. Some of us just don’t care. Some even dismiss things like climate change as nonsense. But we all kinda know human life is degrading life on Planet Earth. 

    A spot of baggage? A Santa’s sack of baggage! No one became vegan in a vacuum. So many little acts these days are connected to the big fat – nearly extinct – elephant in the room. 

    When do you qualify for eco guilt?

    We all know about Greta Thunberg and her stolen future. OK, so the kids aren’t to blame. But when do you start being to blame? On your 18th birthday? Or do you have to be baby boomer or older?

    My parents are baby boomers, and they spent my entire childhood at CND and Greenpeace events. Does that give them a pardon? The irony is, Greta Thunberg’s stolen future idea causes ex-hippies far more guilt-ridden anguish than it does the likes of Donald Trump.

    The best starting point I can see is to begin by acknowledging to yourself that you don’t need to assume the burden of humankind’s environmental impact. You can care, but it’s not your fault. 

    That way, you’re far more likely to make a positive difference.

    While we’re on tricky eco topics, If We Go Local Do We End Up Divided?

  • Uncivilising

    Barefoot standing on sand and shells in the sea
    Rewinding civilisation (Photo by Nirzar Pangarkar)

    A clash of civilisations is indeed underway, but I’m not talking about Islam versus the West. I’m talking about a clash between civilisation as we have come to understand it, and its unraveling in pursuit of something better. 

    The revolution won’t be televised

    This clash is between people who instinctively want things to stay the way they always were (or rather, have been for a long time), and people who want to find new ways of living (or rather, resurrect older ways of living). 

    Unschooling, ‘barefoot’ footwear, chucking out the TV, rejecting car and plane travel, eating only local produce, being anti-plastic, sitting on the floor rather than in a chair, burning your bra, buying experiences instead of bling. 

    What do all these micro-tribes, these mini-movements, have in common? They are all about uncivilising. They are rejections of a highly artificial, manmade way of living in favour of lifestyles stripped back to more authentic essentials. 

    Living in a two-speed world

    It could be assumed that those not taking part in the uncivilising movement would be in the emerging economies where people are experiencing prosperity for the first time. Maybe, but it’s not the whole truth.

    In fact, many innovations that could be part of an uncivilising movement are being led by emerging markets. China, for instance, is innovating for a sustainable urban future better than most Western nations. 

    It’s quite possible that the biggest resistance to uncivilising movements may actually come from people brought up on Western consumer values and with a sense that such manmade commodities are their birthright. 

    Hence the clash of civilisations – or the civilized versus the uncivilised, as it may well be couched – that is already playing out in most Western societies. Things – it seems – are only going to get more tribal, which might just be yet another dimension to the uncivilising phenomenon. 

  • Planet Earth in one village

    The earth in micro form
    Planet Earth in miniature (Photo by Dimitri Scripnic)

    “If we could shrink the Earth to a village of precisely 100 people, with all the existing human ratios remaining the same, there would be:
    – 57 Asians, 21 Europeans, 8 Africans and 14 from North and South America.
    – 52 would be female and 48 male.
    – 70 would be non-Christian and 30 Christian.
    – 70 would be non-white and 30 white.
    – 6 would possess 59% of the world’s wealth and would be from North America.
    – 80 would live in substandard housing.
    – 70 would be unable to read.
    – 50 would suffer from malnutrition.
    – 1 would have a college education.
    – 1 would own a computer.

    …If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of the world…if you have money in the bank, in your wallet and some spare change lying around, you are among the top 8% of the world’s wealthy.”

    An excerpt from The Holistic Manifesto by William Bloom

    With thanks to Alan McSmith for drawing my attention to it on his blog