Do You Want It, Or Do You Need It?
in North America means for most of us that we pollute much more than
other people on this planet. If all people used as much energy and
resources like us (and they are working hard to get there) we would
need several planets to satisfy our requirements.
our use of energy and resources by 60 -80% is difficult. Which of your
activities are necessary to continue - which can be ended? At this site
you can read often to refrain from participating in certain activities
since they are not needed for survival. Those activities satisfy just
what you "want" rather than what you need and you could do without. It
seems to be hard or even impossible for many (if not most) North
Americans to wrap their brains around this and come to a better
understanding of their needs for themselves and/or their family.
and "living" are not the same. The vast majority of what we do in North
America, how we pollute, how we waste resources, etc. has to do with
our life-style and not with our survival or just basic living. To
survive you need food, shelter, clothing, education, work, income, a
social life, peace, justice, good health, health care, means to
transportation, and a few other things I have not thought about right
now. This is not much news. How much of each you need is a different
story and this is where opinions differ. You may also notice that my
rough list does not include having a lot of money, shopping, traveling,
over-seas vacation, and many other activities you participate in. I did
not say I will list what you need to have a "good life", I tried to
define what you need to "survive". The rest is extra and I believe is
is very important to understand this. Depending on the definition of
"good", North Americans live to the most part (and certainly in
comparison to other people on Earth) a pretty good life.
is how I think about it: If other people on this planet could or can do
an activity with much less energy and resources under similar
environmental conditions - it can be done today in North America in a
similar fashion. Not everything, but all that is required to live good
enough. And probably slightly more since we have developed
technologically so much, have increased the efficiency of machines, and
understand better how things work.
With some rare
exceptions, you do not need a SUV to get around. You do not need to use
the clothes dryer. You do not need air-conditioning in your house. You
do not need to heat your house until it is comfortable to be wearing
just a T-shirt in the middle of winter. None of this was necessary 30
years ago. Other methods exist to help you get what you need (e.g.
transportation from A to B, dry clothes, feeling cool/warm) that do not
pollute as much or at all. You may not know or remember how right now.
It certainly won't be as convenient, as fast, or as easy as before, and
you may need to make adjustments how you live. Your choices will be
limited. But, just like in other countries, it is possible. Reaching
this mind-set is the great challenge we face right now. Everything will
(!) change. It will change against you, or it will change with you.
cannot imagine you will like to be told what you want and what you
need. You will have to come to terms with that yourself. I am worried
that many of us tend to be too conservative (in the sense of preserving
the current wasteful and comfortable life-style) in their approach and
will change too little. In my opinion the baby steps can be the
beginning of an urgently necessary change, but they generally do not
add up to measurable levels and often result in premature
self-satisfaction. Nevertheless, it is up to you to decide what is
right for you.
We will not reduce our ecological impact by
60- 80% without ending most of what we like to do in North America. You
can continue convincing yourself that everything you do is necessary to
live, or you can look at what you do honestly and rationally, separate
wants from needs, and begin the mental transformation.