So over the past 4 years since the Great Recession began we saw a huge spike in media focus on green living and thus a large influx of public support. As the media has shifted its focus over the last 2 or 3 years back to recreating an unsustainable economy by focusing on creating more “Jobs” it really got me thinking about why they focus on “Jobs” and how do we use the current interest in green to prepare ourselves for the next economic shock, which is sure to hit at some point. This will require a shift from the debt system to individual ownership model.
So we are in a bit of a conundrum with growing populations, dwindling resources, both finite and renewable, ecosystems collapsing and much more, yet we drum the beat of creating more jobs that cause those very problems. I began to think about this addiction we have created for money and energy. For a minute I thought we might be able to simply transition our society to a green tech future over the last few years, which, I thought could be easier for transitioning suburban america than dismantling that model. However the more I contemplated why people say we need jobs it made me trace the pattern back to the way that most americans and most westerners live, which is by debt in all areas of their lives. This can result in homelessness when we loose our jobs, which is really unfortunate and thus must create more jobs to “save them from the streets” and the insecurity built into a debt system model. It has also made me realize that in order to shrink a consumer economy modeled on through put of material resources, (mostly designed for planned or perceived obsolescence in order to keep the factories humming and maintain full employment at 95% or else have homelessness,) we must translate our lifestyles back to true ownership and responsibility for our lives. This will also begin to solve the ecological destruction created by this unsustainable economy.
This is where we need to develop a fundamental plan for true independence which I used to always preach (and is similar to the Transition town Model, but really highlights the need for off grid/net yield homeownership) until I moved to the city and saw the complexity of such an organism…. anyways the path to true independence and creating a steady state planet where humans are a climax species responsible for the planet and its creation goes something like this:
- Get Debt Free: This is critical in reducing our economic footprint, which keeps us dependent on the full employment tread mill. If we are able to get debt free and minimize our cost of living through full ownership of our home and goods we buy we can then begin to shrink the fear of eviction from a bank owned home. This is critical and it is very important to find a community where one can afford a house with little to no debt and at least a 1/4 ac. of land to start this process. Often times economically depressed communities near a decently thriving economy is a good place to start. This will allow a transition to getting free. You can then help others do the same. This is where setting up a credit union or (as the local Germans used to do, a savings and loan) may be critical to help others get out of debt. It may also be worth looking into Islamic banks, as they don’t charge interest (which 4 of the 5 major world religions say is illegal, this is a whole other article unto itself) .
- Get off the grid or become an energy producer: If we design or retrofit our homes to take care of us, similar to an earthship, a home that naturally heats and cools and harvests water with little to no inputs, then energy becomes a luxury. It is at this point that we can then begin to use renewable energy and even sell it back to the grid if we are on it. This eliminates the need to pay energy bills, another source of insecurity, especially in the cold north, for most Americans
- Water systems design: design your water system so that it: harvests all rain water, and can be gravity feed to eliminate the need for water pumping. This will save energy and money
- Grow as much food modeled after nature with as little work as possible: Food forests are a great example of this. If one could grow 60-80% of their food, then we really begin to liberate ourselves from the money system and the insecurity it brings
- Live in a community that has public transit or is walkable: This will eliminate the need for paying for transportation.
- Live Permaculture (which is the best way to implement steps 2-5)
This will take the basics of life out of the consumption economy, which continually seeks to create insecurity within us and thus find a savior through consumption, which is the very driver of ecological destruction.
This will also minimize our economic footprint, which will give us more employment flexibility and the opportunity to choose to partake in more ethical jobs that reflect planetary sustainability, even if they pay only minimally or are part time. This will also allow us to shift our manufacturing jobs and economy from a consumer based economy that perpetuates insecurity to keep us in it, to one where we have more freedom of choice to partake in it. This is true liberation. Once this is achieved it will allow us to transition from a Consumer based economy to a steady state economy, one that respects and reflects the limits of planet earth.
It is also important to understand the limits of renewable resources and the limits of non-renewable resources and work with those limits in the design of any system. This is fundamental as we hit the limits to exponential population growth and seek a peaceful future at the same time.
In this transition towards a Green Tech future we will need to seek the development of products that are engineered and designed to maximize life cycle and are designed for repair through replacement parts, which can be returned to the manufacturer for refurbishment or recycling. This is where a declaration of rights to the basic sources of life is critical.
If individual homestead ownership is achieved then it will alleviate the burden manufacturing economies to provide for us. The challenge they have always had in “providing” us a livelihood because we left the farm is if a product is manufactured to last for centuries, then once that product saturates the market the production levels drop thus resulting in unemployment. Their solution to this, post Great Depression, the result of the first major industrial boom & bust cycle, was to utilize planned obsolescence and perceived obsolescence. One where it is engineered to break, the other where it goes out of style, thus destroying ones social acceptance, which can only be fixed through the purchase of the new, stylish version. This is what I studied in my Industrial Design education and is so entertainingly explained in the Youtube video, “The story of stuff”. The trouble with designing an economy along these lines is that it perpetuates ecological destruction in the end through unsustainable consumption. (This is also driven from laws that require publicly held companies to always turn a profit, which, that 6-9% growth we strive for is ultimately coming from the erosion of ecological and social capital – ie: union busting and lowering minimum wages. Its ultimate failure is from economies based on a debt system, which, again is why 4 of the 5 major religions all ban usury or the collection of interest – Jewish and Christian traditions handle this by creating the Jubilee year, which cancels all debt every 50 years. ) The problem thus is creating a stable place for people and families to live that won’t keep them in perpetual survival mode. This is why debt free home ownership and creating homesteads that take care as much of our basic needs with as little work as possible is so critical to pursue. The Ethics of the Market place should not pander in the basics of life, these basics should be taught to all as “Living on Earth 101”.
The last piece that must be stressed over and over again is net neutral reproduction for humanity on planet earth for this steady state model to work (this again is another article in due time). This, in my opinion is the only path forward for a green tech future. This path to taking back control of our lives is critical for the future of humanity if we are going to solve the destruction our planet which is perpetuated through our economy.