A new report has been issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. At a press conference, the IPCC chair, Rajendra Pachauri, said “If the world doesn’t do anything about mitigating the emissions of greenhouse gases and the extent of climate change continues to increase, then the very social stability of human systems could be at stake.” We couldn’t agree more.
Many of us understand the impacts of everyday choices on faraway economies, environments, human rights, or species at risk. It’s critical to include all inhabitants of this small, wondrous and fragile planet in our definition of “community” — the animal, vegetative, and microbial life forms that balance our complex and intricate ecosystems — since we influence each other in ways that we’re still just beginning to understand.
A truly global outlook demands of us that we consider the generations yet to come. We’re here because our forbears occupied a planet where the survival of our species was still a fairly safe bet. Now people are seriously discussing the possibility of another mass extinction. Sadly, in a recent Tyee online poll that asked the question, “Are We Screwed?”, 79% of respondents answered Yes.
I’d argue that there are still ways to “Be the Change” we want to see in the world, and to live like we are planning to stay around for a few more millennia. Among these:
– Build smaller homes and live where we don’t need to drive everywhere. Share our homes, land, vehicles, tools etc. with others.
– Do more with less – less materials in the making of our homes, less energy used to heat them. Passive House has great ideas about how to do this.
– Build or buy things to last – choose classic design that doesn’t go out of style and the best quality we can afford. – Reject planned obsolescence.
– Recycle our waste – composting, greywater systems, heat recovery.
– Become producers instead of consumers – producing energy, water, food, even clothing or furniture by using the productive capacity of our homes and land.
– Make use of the free energy coming from the sun.
The UN climate change report tells us that there’s still hope (see link below). There are no magic, easy fixes to the world’s current predicament. However, the way we design, build and live in our homes offers exciting and rewarding opportunities to move back into balance with the earth. Growing our circle of care to the widest extent possible will help us to get there. What will you do to make a difference?