What can we do?

REx Weyler | December 13, 2018 | Leave a Comment Download as PDF

Rainbow over the Tapajós River in the Amazon © Todd Southgate / Greenpeace

This article was originally published in Green Peace on June 10, 2018.

At the University of Minnesota Dr. Nate Hagens teaches an honours course called “Reality 101: A Survey of the Human Predicament.” Hagens operated his own hedge fund on Wall Street until he glimpsed, “a serious disconnect between capitalism, growth, and the natural world. Money did not appear to bring wealthy clients more well being.” Hagens became editor of The Oil Drum, and now sits on the Board of the Post Carbon Institute and the Institute for Integrated Economic Research.

Reality 101 addresses humanity’s toughest challenges: economic decline, inequality, pollution, biodiversity loss, and war. Students learn about systems ecology, neuroscience, and economics. “We ask hard questions,” says Hagens. “What is wealth? What are the limits to growth? We attempt to face our crises head on.”

Some students feel inspired to action, and some report finding the material “depressing.” One student shared the course material with a family member, who asked, “So what can I do?” The student struggled to answer this question, and the listener chastised her: “why did you explain all this to me, if you can’t tell me what to do?!”

A fair question. One that, as environmentalists, we often get asked. At the request of Dr Hagens, here is my list:

What can we do?

I have been asking this question all of my adult life. As I’ve witnessed the crisis intensify, I’ve experienced feelings of panic, anger, and helplessness. Nevertheless, I also feel at peace. I love my family and friends, I enjoy life in my community, and love my time in the natural world. Here are some of the ways I believe we can deal with anxiety about the world and take action:

Stay active 

It can feel good to simply resist the destructive acts of governments and corporations, to stand up for the dispossessed, abused, and for the natural world. Caring about others can be the greatest gift to one’s own soul and peace of mind.


Even as I engage in global battles, my life revolves around family, neighbours, friends, and finding ways to help strengthen my community. Protect your local habitat; preserve a local river, a lake, or forest. I believe that most genuine “solutions” that matter will appear at a community-in-habitat level. The priorities:

  • Build community cohesion with communication, events, joy, sharing, etc.
  • Preserve and restore local ecosystems; protect wild places
  • Teach, educate, learn, share information
  • Promote local energy systems
  • Plant gardens, grow food
  • Learn localized community health care

Accept complexity

The question, “What can I do?” typically seeks a linear answer to a complex, whole-system challenge. “What can I do?” often wants a “solution” for a “problem.” This sort of linear thinking helped create the predicament we’re in. Changing a complex living system is not a linear, mechanistic “solution.” We have to remain humble in this struggle. We are small. Life is short. Nature is expansive, complex, and long.

Love and trust nature

Spend time in the natural world without trying to “fix” it. Sit with wildness and absorb it, love it, and respect it. Apprentice yourself to nature, and what you learn will help when you engage in the human realm to defend that wildness. Trust nature. She will be fine. Humans will not “destroy the Earth.” We cause harm to the biosphere, drive species to extinction, and alter Earth’s climate, but we cannot touch the regenerative power of wild nature. Earth will be fine.

Sharpen the sword

This is a Buddhist precept. You are the sword. You are the tool that you take into battle. Keep that tool sharp. Be prepared. In Buddhism, the sharpening comes from meditation and acts of compassion. There are other methods, such as yoga, art, and the worship of mystery. We sharpen the sword by working on ourselves, making ourselves better human beings and better agents of change.

In my experience, the weakest link in social movements is the ego: pride, wanting credit, wanting fame, wanting to be admired, wanting power, and so forth. When we sharpen the sword, we quiet our own ego so that we become a calming influence rather than a source of anxiety for others.

These five principles are the bedrock for me. And still, this is just the beginning, because once we unlock the confidence to act, and as we turn out to the world, the more challenging work begins.

How can we change the world?  

People’s Climate March in Washington D.C © Amanda J. Mason / Greenpeace
People’s Climate March in Washington D.C © Amanda J. Mason / Greenpeace


We may benefit if we simultaneously hold two extremes of action; both the huge, universal movements for ecology and justice and the daily, personal actions that help slightly and make us better examples to others.

Part I – The big, universal movements

Our priorities of action are unlikely to be the same as the priorities of status quo society. Humanity is in a state of ecological overshoot, and all pathways out of overshoot require contraction. Few institutions like the idea of getting smaller, simplifying, or reversing the scale of human activity. Technology can provide benefits, but there are no technologies that eliminate the ecological requirement of contraction to heal the biological foundation of our civilization.

Here are the areas that need the most attention:

  1. Consumption

Humanity has been hugely successful at consuming Earth’s bounty, but we have already overshot many of her limits. Reducing consumption is imperative, and of course, this has to start with the frivolous, wasteful consumption of the rich world. Some ideas:

  • Start a campaign to reduce extravagant travel.
  • Lobby for heavy tax incentives to slow indulgent, leisure consumption.
  • Transform the idea of “fashion.” Make modesty the new fashion statement.
  • Organize your community to recycle and repair everything.
  • Help popularize modest consumption and a simpler lifestyle.
  • Start a campaign for shoppers to leave all packaging at the stores.
  1. Population

Find ways to help stabilize and reduce human population. Some human rights activists fear that population efforts might violate human rights, but crowding already erodes human rights. Humans and our livestock now comprise 96% of all mammal biomass on Earth. There are limits.

All we need to do is reduce the human growth rate from +1% per year to -1% per year. Reversing human sprawl makes life better for everyone and shows respect for all life. The most graceful and effective strategies to stabilize and reduce the growth rate are simple and have other social benefits:

  • Help establish universal women’s rights, the right to plan pregnancy and childbirth.
  • Campaign for universally available free contraception.
  • Overcome the fear and taboo about discussing the human population growth rate.
  • Help popularize smaller families and family planning.
  1. Energy

Find ways to help reduce energy demand, reduce fossil fuel use, and support renewable energy.

  1. Militarism

Campaign to end militarism and weapons industries in all forms at every level.

Consumption, population, petroleum fuels, and militarism remain the four major drivers of our ecological crisis. The underlying psychological drivers may be greed, fear and ignorance. Meanwhile, there are hundreds, thousands of interconnected issues that need attention too.

Here are just 19:

  1. Reduce meat consumption, reduce livestock herds, through taxes and lifestyle changes.
  2. Support and preserve the cultures and lifestyles among Indigenous and modest farmer communities.
  3. Campaign to limit corporate power in politics.
  4. Campaign to publicly fund universities, all education, to limit corporate corruption of education.
  5. Start an economic de-growth group. Start a campaign to create a new micro-economic system in your community, your state, your county, your nation, your company, your family.
  6. Start a school for the homeless and disenfranchised; teach localized, useful skills, gardening, tool repairs.
  7. Lobby your local government to create community gardens.
  8. Study and create renewable energy systems that can be built, operated, and maintained locally.
  9. Campaign to consume only locally produced products; reduce the energy cost of transported goods.
  10. Start or join campaigns to preserve ecosystems, rivers, lakes, the oceans, forestsbiodiversity, and all non-human habitats.
  11. Open or join a clinic and begin to research localized, small-scale healthcare.
  12. Lobby governments to create walking neighbourhoods; ban cars from city centres, create public transit projects, and make cities serve community.
  13. Start a company that uses local resources and local skills to create useful locally consumed tools and resources.
  14. Start a “free store” in your community, where people can drop off used goods, and pick up useful used items they may need.
  15. Start a local support group or psychology practice and begin to learn and support community therapy; build community trust; help others deal with depression and anxiety. The best therapy is a friend.
  16. Legal support: are you a lawyer, or do you want to be? Could you work as a paralegal? Start a practice to defend ecology activists, and start class action lawsuits against corporations that pollute.
  17. Start or join a campaign to impose carbon taxation and other pollution charges on contaminating products; lobby for resource depletion fees, true cost pricing, and import tariffs on ecologically dangerous goods.
  18. Help restore damaged ecosystems; lobby governments and corporations to make funds available to restore damaged ecosystems; plant trees, build soils, re-establish natural water flows.
  19. Start or join a campaign to achieve whatever is close and dear to your heart.

Part II – Personal Lifestyle

Urban Farming workshop in Jakarta as part of Make SMTHNG week © Afriadi Hikmal / Greenpeace
Urban Farming workshop in Jakarta as part of Make SMTHNG week © Afriadi Hikmal / Greenpeace

Even if small, personal actions might not shift the whole world, those actions count. Your personal actions become a model for others, and the personal lifestyle changes of individuals add up. These 12 actions will bring you closer to nature, closer to yourself, and closer to friends and allies, who share your beliefs and concerns:

  1. Grow food, plant gardens, learn horticulture, plant fruit trees.
  2. Spend as much time in wild nature as possible, pay attention, observe, contemplate.
  3. Fix everything. Have a fix-it shop with tools and supplies. Fix things for your family, friends and neighbours. Teach others how to fix things. Repair clothes.
  4. Stand up to bullies in every possible way; don’t let individuals, corporations, or governments bully you, your family, or your neighbours. You can do this with kindness and grace, and with inner strength. And don’t be bullied by popular, conventional perceptions.
  5. Share everything you can. Help others trust in sharing. Create community cohesion by organizing ways to share resources, tools, or public land.
  6. Take in a homeless foster child; give them some love and security; help create one less wounded soul, floundering and struggling in the world.
  7. Find ways to use your training, career, or job to further ecological and social justice goals. Talk to coworkers. Create recycling, sharing, and promote modest consumption in your workplace.
  8. Create art, music, theatre, dance. Artistic work can express human creativity without frivolous consumption; art builds self-confidence and leads to creative interaction with others. Create art events, start a gallery or performance space. Help young people find their creative spirit. Help your community learn to entertain itself with its own creativity rather than rely on globalized, electronic, high-consumption entertainment.
  9. Accept that there is no miracle technology that is going to allow us to continue living this endless growth, high consumption, self-indulgent, expanding population, fossil-fueled, presumptuous, human-centred life. Change is inevitable. Simplicity is the new “progress.” Accept it and be at peace with that.
  10. Create discussion groups, in person and online, about all of these actions. Help others feel comfortable living simpler lives, taking action, and building a genuinely sustainable future world.
  11. Find a spiritual practice that helps you calm down and see the world with more compassion and patience, and that helps you appreciate the more-than-human world.
  12. Educate yourself, forever. The issues are complex, non-linear, and linked. Learn how complex living systems actually work. Educate yourself about wild nature, evolution, and scientific complexity. Accept that the universe is beyond comprehension, but continue the effort to comprehend:

Read “Small Arcs of Larger Circles” by Nora Bateson.

Read “The Collapse of Complex Societies” by Joseph Tainter.

Read Arne Naess, Chellis Glendinning, David Abram, and Paul Shepard.

Read Gregory Bateson, Janine Benyus, William Catton, and other ecology writers.

Read Rachel Carson, Basho, Li Po, William Blake, Mary Oliver, Denise Levertov, Gary Snyder, Susan Griffin, Nanao Sakaki, and other poets who honour nature.

Go to art galleries. Contemplate the connection between creative artistic expression and change in a complex system. See the art in nature and the nature in art.

Learn about the errors of modern, neoliberal economics, and learn about other ways to approach economics. Read: N. Georgescu-Roegen, Herman Daly, Donella Meadows, Mark Anielski.

Learn about how energy really works. Read Vaclav Smil, Bill Rees, and Howard Odum

Read Wendell Berry: “Solving for Pattern” and “Gift of Good Land.”

See if you can fall in love with something that’s not human. See if you can fall in love with wild nature.

Practice equanimity, calmness even in the face of uncertainty or tragedy; the first rule of all First Aid training: the responder should remain calm.

Help re-establish terms such as the common good, public interest, and collective benefit back into political and social discourse.

Accept that “the world” is a complex living system, made from living subsystems out of your control. Let go of “changing the world” with human cleverness, and be content to influence your community and ecosystems where you can.

Get creative about helping. Talk with friends and colleagues. Invent new ways to contribute to the principles of slower consumption, smaller populations, cooperative communities, peace, and restored ecosystems.

There are many actions we can take to help. Take your pick. They all count. Teach them. Discuss them. Add to the list.

Readers’ suggestions:

Collaborate with others who share your values; divide the complexity into manageable parts. Simon Grant

Take care of one’s own physical and mental health. Create daily windows free from anxiety-inducing information (most electronic media). It works best if such a window precedes bed-time so that you can close your eyes without thinking about the news. Lucas Durand

For youth in privileged countries:
Defer having children or do not have children.
Attend bush-craft survival courses and practice the skills. You may need them. Mike Haywood

Don’t focus on small details of problems to avoid the anxiety-producing big picture. When mired in detail, move your vision to the next scale up. Mary Odum

Also see the 12 tips to Making Sense Of The World by Caitlin Johnstone and the manifesto for a new coexistence pact, with similar sensible proposals. Pedro Prieto

1) Richard Heinberg, “The End of Growth”
2) Chris Martenson, “The Crash Course”
3) Charles Hugh Smith, “Survival +”
4) Nafeez Ahmed, “The Crisis of Civilization”
5) John Michael Greer, “The Long Descent”
6) James Howard Kunstler, “The Long Emergency” Steve Bull

Study cognitive history, and how cultural values shape history, including Jeremy Lent’s The Patterning Instinct. Rick Ingrasci

Rex Weyler was a director of the original Greenpeace Foundation, the editor of the organization’s first newsletter, and a co-founder of Greenpeace International in 1979.

Rex’s column reflects on the roots of activism, environmentalism, and Greenpeace’s past, present, and future. The opinions here are his own.


Resources and Links:

“Planetary Boundaries: Exploring the Safe Operating Space for Humanity,” J. Rockström, et. al., Ecology and Society, 2009.

The nine planetary boundaries, Stockholm Resilience Centre

The Oil Drum

Post Carbon Institute

Nora Bateson, “Small Arcs of Larger Circles”: Deep Green review and book at (Triarchy Press, 2016.

William Catton, Overshoot, University of Illinois, 1980.

William Rees, “The Way Forward: Survival 2100,” Solutions Journal v.3, #3, June 2012

Donella Meadows, et. al., Limits to Growth (D. H. Meadows, D. L. Meadows, J. Randers, W. Behrens, 1972; New American Library, 1977); and Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update (Chelsea Green, 2004).


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The views and opinions expressed through the MAHB Website are those of the contributing authors and do not necessarily reflect an official position of the MAHB. The MAHB aims to share a range of perspectives and welcomes the discussions that they prompt.
  • César Emilio Valdivieso París

    Among the things we can do, I would add to design a new system of relationships among humans, and between humans and nature, radically different from what we now have and is leading us directly to disaster.

  • Justin Beck

    Love the “stand up to bullies” advice….has been a discipline of mine for almsot 10 years. And make your own art..but I do like to make electronic “art” though because the bullies like to try to be “authentic”: https://soundcloud.com/justindr660/wildflower-empire-of-illusion

  • Greeley Miklashek

    At the risk of repeating myself until I’m blue in the face, population density stress is killing us NOW, through ALL of our “diseases of civilization”, none of which are found in sparsely populated traditional living contemporary hunter-gatherers! Were we Americans not spending $3.5T to keep ourselves alive, in spite of this exploding disease load (!), we would ALL be dead already! We have ignored the ecological limits nature placed upon the human population for tens of thousands of years and, instead, invented the temporary abundance of sedentary agriculture which has driven our current extreme overpopulation and resultant fatal diseases. So far, only one or two readers on this website have bothered to comprehend what this long experienced physician is trying to warn you of: the imminent extinction of our species due to population density stress, if environmental collapse doesn’t do it first. Wake-up or watch our species disappear from the earth. We were only 2.6M when we lived in a balance ecological state with the rest of nature’s diversity, but now we are nearly 3,000 times more! Wake-up! Stress R Us

    • Arnold Byron

      I agree. We, that is humanity, need to begin doing negative population growth; and we need to start at the earliest time possible. Negative population growth can be done globally in a nonviolent, non-eugenic, fair, safe and humane way. But it can only be done with laws and rules that that every nation needs to have on its books. Every nation must support population control. We will never reach negative population growth if humans are allowed to continue having children whenever they want. Humans have been allowed to have as many children as they want, and where has it gotten us.

      The only sure way to reach negative population growth is to set up rules to control how many children are born and raised to adulthood. Simply telling people what to do is not enough. Humanity needs to set up a global office and give that office the authority to enforce laws and rules on population control. Look at some of what I have written https://mahb.stanford.edu/?s=A+Plan+for+the+Nations.

      I would use contraceptives to control population growth. After a baby has been born, the father will be required (forced) to have a vasectomy and the mother be required (forced) to have an IUD. I think that after one generation men will accept having a vasectomy, if every-man does, and women will accept having an IUD, if all women do. Remember, this will happen only after the family has been born. I want to suggest a formula: One child for decreasing the population; two children for maintaining the population and three children for increasing the population.

      Dr. Miklashek, you are absolutely correct. We need fewer people. The schematic I have just outlined is the only way that I can see it happening. I want those who share this opinion to either come up with their own plan that will work without fail; or to accept and begin promoting my plan. My plan is failsafe. People will have to comply. It will be non-eugenic, fair, safe and humane. The nations will still be in charge. Can you study and support my plan?

      Somebody’s plan needs to be put in play. Time is running out.

      • Greeley Miklashek

        Thank you for your reply. This can be a lonely business. I hjave come to know people pretty well, having evaluated 25,000 over my 42 year career and written 1,000,000Rx. I had breakfast with a Chinese sociologist last Friday and asked him about the Chinese experience with the one-child policy instituted in 1979 but ended recently due to concerns with the demographic shift that inevitably goes along with population reduction: more of us oldsters and few young folks to support us. The Japanese seem to be making a smoother transition, as women take up jobs, gain education, and the experienced workers retire later or take up new jobs. Automation is helping too. I fear your authoritarian approach may alienate the very folks we need to convince of the necessity of one-child families and population reduction. My approach is to convince parents that having a child or another child will contribute to our mounting population density stress and the fatal diseases caused by it, not only for ourselves (1/2 American adults now have high blood pressure!) but for our offspring, who will suffer terribly from their own increasing disease risks and we will be left to watch them perish. This is the future I see occurring at this very moment and getting progressively worse in the not too distant future. It is not a pretty picture and we need a real wake-up call! I listened to my cousin last year as she was forced to watch her only daughter die from one cancer recurrence after another, leaving two high stress grand-daughters without a mom. This is the sort of pain that more and more parents will be facing, like the Guatamalan (sp?) father whose 7yo daughter just died in a border crossing attempt, or the many hundreds of Middle Easterners and Africans drowning in the Med as their grieving parents regret bringing them into a world that has run out of room for them. I believe people will heed a well enough crafted, honest warning about the true danger of human overpopulation, if only we can get it out to them and past the pro-growth greedy corporate interests that thrive on that massive Ponzi scheme called Wall St. and the NYSE, among others. Let’s keep working on this and be grateful to MAHB for giving us this opportunity for dialog. Happy Holidays! Stress R Us

      • NP1

        while I must agree with you in general terms

        would you care to elaborate on just who will do the forcing?



        Someone has to do it.

        • Arnold Byron

          Hello NP1.
          Take a look at what my plan is and you will see that a global office which will have been set up by the nations and will have been given the authority to deal with overpopulation, global warming and nuclear decommissioning will “do the forcing”.
          My plan creates a global office with a committee of twelve, none of whom are sociopaths, have special interests or special agendas. The global office will be enforcing to a new set of laws and regulations that will have been passed and approved by the individual nations. So the answer to your question is ‘they’ and ‘they’ is all of us working together, helping each other.
          If my plan is accepted then it will be a newly promulgated association of all of the colleges and universities,worldwide, that will be charged with putting all of this together. Humanity has made the colleges and universities of the world the repositories of the world’s intellect and creativity.
          If my plan is accepted it will set up a new paradigm for governance. It is apparent to me that what we have been doing has gotten us into trouble. Our problems is global. Global solutions are needed. This means changes in global governance.
          I have yet to ask the Regents and professors to begin talking about creating a new association of colleges and universities, worldwide, that will write all of the new charters, agreements, rules and laws that will be needed to sell the nations on the idea to commission a global office and give that office the authority, support, protection and wherewithal to deal with the crises that humanity is facing. I am working on how to do that at this time. Time is short.

  • Arnold Byron

    Your advice is a good, but it is not the first-tier advice. Let me explain. Every suggestion you make requires people to make decisions and to act voluntarily. Voluntary action is in the core of humanity. Humans have acted individually since the beginning. Individual action is in the DNA.
    What humanity needs to do to begin the work of saving itself and the planet from the various crises it faces is to convince the nations to establish a global office, put a fair minded, non-sociopathic, committee devoid of special interests or special agendas in charge and give that global office the authority, the protection, the support and the wherewithal to solve the various crises.
    The global office will determine what needs to be done, order it done, provide the resources and monitor the completion of the work. With a global office there will be no need for a market place to slow the work. The work will be: building an infrastructure of renewables such as solar panels and windmills; building an infrastructure of mini refineries to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, generate electricity and produce the gasoline, diesel fuel and needed petrochemicals from non-fossil fuel feed-stock such as household garbage and fields planted with voluminous vegetation; dismantle everything nuclear; and reduce the population in a nonviolent, non-eugenic, fair, safe and humane manner by using contraceptives to limit the number of children that two people will raise to adulthood. After two people have given birth to one child the female will be required to use an IUD and the male will be required to have a vasectomy. That will guarantee compliance with reducing the population.
    The global office will determine the time-frames for reducing, maintaining or increasing the population. When in a one child time-frame the population will be cut in half in one generation. The population must be controlled to stay within the available resources. Humanity must embark on a new paradigm that will last forever.
    In order to make a global office function the people must be able to take orders, to be compliant and to do the work assigned. There will be no room for voluntarism.
    Your good advice will still be valuable as people live out their daily lives. Variability and choice are always the manner in which people want to live. The future will bring changes. Humanity will have to choose to have a global office in charge to coordinate the actions and stay within the scope of available resources or to allow the population to go through cycles of chaos, death and destruction whenever the population exceeds the available resources.
    I have written at MAHB blog-site in the past using the title A Plan for the Nations. See https://mahb.stanford.edu/?s=A+Plan+for+the+Nations, for more details.

  • john weyland

    I suggest you give it a go in your workplace/community, publish the results and try to enjoin mahb members. send me the results and i’ll try it with my community.

  • trilemmaman

    Educate your U.S. Representative regarding the links between human rights and national security and urge them to contemplate funding the 17 Sustainable Development Goals by freezing and seizing some of the $32 trillion locked in off shore accounts by kelptocrats, crime cartels, and capitalists avoiding taxes. The SDGs are the only comprehensive plan available and they are vital in preventing the coming chaos from climate change, terrorism, WMD proliferation, pandemics, loss of antibiotic arsenal, and other health/environmental/violent trends NOT in our favor. .

  • melharte

    I have a vision of accomplishing the eventual goal of no unintended pregnancies in California, which could be an important role model for the US and the world, via easy universal access to family planning information and highly effective contraceptives. I’ve gathered much information towards making the strong economic, social and climate case for investing in this, but lack political connections and developing an activist group. If anyone would like to help in this, let me know here!

    • trilemmaman

      It’s a great vision! And universal access to FP should be a human right. Funding it? Problem is, women need to want it. When so many are still losing their infants to easily preventable malnutrition and infectious diseases from lack of food, clean water or sanitation…and their children are an asset to them as they grow older…it’s kinda hard to convince them to use FP. There are certainly those who want it and can’t get it. But offering FP without the other essentials to their children’s survival has backfired in the past. They have perceived it as our attempt to control their lives…and flatly rejected the FP thinking it a prejudiced conspiracy.

  • Richard Blaber

    It all sounds so simple, doesn’t it? But there are huge & powerful forces arrayed against all of this, and they aren’t going to give up easily. Donald Trump is pulling the USA out of the Paris Agreement, so he sends a delegation to the COP24 Conference in Katowice (a singularly ironic location) to argue the supposed “merits” of fossil fuels, & do everything possible to render the Agreement otiose, in conjunction with Russia, Saudi Arabia & Kuwait. Australia is being led by a Government that sees nothing wrong with promoting the mining of coal; Jair Bolsonaro, the new President of Brazil, is going to make a bonfire of environmental regulations, and allow more of the Amazon rain forest to be destroyed. The UK Government talks the talk about climate change, but its actions belie its words, & Brexit will undermine European solidarity on climate and environmental policy. I wish it were possible to share the author’s optimism & equanimity, but I see no reason to do so.

  • Rex Weyler

    regarding “economies of scale”: We have been somewhat tricked by the notion of economies of scale because we have failed to account for the systemic ecological and social costs of scale. We have not paid those costs. Our giant scale is our fundamental problem. Humanity is in overshoot. We have has to contract, reduce consumption, and reduce our scale. It is true that living more simply, in league and harmony with natural systems will be challenging, but there is no absolute refuge in “economies of scale.” There may be benefits to designing and building systems in a coordinated manner, but ultimately these systems have to work and be maintained locally if we are going to return to sustainability.

  • ThisOldMan

    “Study and create renewable energy systems that can be built, operated, and maintained locally.”

    Stop and think! Save possibly for building a dam with a waterwheel, or a very small and crude wind turbine, there’s no way to do that. Solar panels and modern wind turbines can only be built in large facilities that attain economies of scale, and have access to global supply chains. The same is true of non-renewable energy systems, of course. That’s part of what makes greening our energy infrastructure an especially thorny problem. One with which I have concerned myself deeply …

  • billdowling

    What we can, need and must do is pretty much all of these things. But what we need first is the will, enthusiasm and reason to do them – and there is little doubt the greatest threat we all face now is climate change. If you want a real spur to gavanise you and other people nto action, please have a look at this 3.5 minute video – of a 15 year old swedish girl speaking at the COP24 Cliamte Change conference in Poland this week. Please pass it on to all your friends, neighbours and contacts everywhere: