As you read more about the emerging crisis of modernity, one of the ideas about possible "solutions" is degrowth. We're terrible at framing. Degrowth is probably accurate, but the notion that "growth" is a "good thing" is so firmly embedded in our collective psyche that it will inevitably be re-framed by the right as "de-good."
We read this decades ago when anti-nuclear activists were told to "freeze to death in the dark in caves."
This piece explains the idea of degrowth using the leaf-blower as a metaphor or analogy. All the horrors of leaf-blowers aren't dispelled by using electric leaf-blowers, because leaf-blowers are merely a symptom of the deeper problem. I related to it, because we do have all-electric lawn care tools, and solar panels on our roof to charge them.
Lawns, and 27" iMacs, aren't essential goods. They are things we've created because we can, in large measure to satisfy ego-driven needs to display status or conformity, by a capitalist system that prioritizes profit above all other considerations.
If I were king of the world for a day, I'd ban residential lawns outright. As deliberate features of public amenities, and only where they are essential, like a gathering place or playing field, they'd be allowed. Otherwise, something closely approximating a "natural" landscape, compatible with local climate (i.e., not requiring thousands of gallons of irrigation annually) would be required. Landscapes that didn't require tons of fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides to keep them looking like "carpets."
Of course, this would offend nearly everyone's notion of "personal freedom." But nearly everyone's notion of personal freedom is wrong anyway. Perhaps the evidence being developed that shows that tech companies use algorithms to drive behavior will begin to expose our ignorance and misunderstanding of what "freedom" really is.
In the meantime, I live in an HOA that mandates lawns. So we do our best. We only run the irrigation when it's necessary to maintain the lawn. Most folks run it on a timer, and it gets watered whether it needs it or not. Mitzi uses electric tools and does the work herself. Most folks hire landscapers, who use gas-powered tools.
We live in a region that is car-centric, like nearly all of America, with some marketing features that purport to show golf-carts as an alternative. Where we can, we use the golf-cart. We drive an SUV, a vehicle enormously larger than our needs, but a plug-in hybrid with the longest available battery range at the time. We only have one car, though the golf cart should count as a vehicle.
We're roughly 90% self-sufficient on power on an annual basis, but we're still net-positive in terms of the overall energy balance. That is, we provide more solar power to FPL's grid than we receive from FPL's natural-gas powered generators.
We Americans will have the biggest problem in adjusting to the new reality, and a new reality is coming whether we want it or not. It will be imposed on us by the climate, by the biosphere. Degrowth will happen. What we might hope for is a controlled descent, rather than a violent one.
What we can do now is begin to think about and be aware of all the ways we do too much. Have too much. Take too much. Want too much.
And maybe try to embrace less, and see "growth" as the cancer that it is.
This isn't a guilt-trip. But a day is coming when guilt and regret may plague the survivors. I could be wrong. Denial is a powerful coping mechanism.
Originally posted at Nice Marmot 06:15 Thursday, 2 November 2023