How can we live sustainably?

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Courtesy of Fishace Ecological Engineering

My working life began as an underground coal mining engineer in the UK-Yorkshire coalfields; my profession was lost to Margaret Thatcher’s policy of shutting down my mine (1991) because of the environmental effects of burning fossil fuels and its impact on acid rain in Scandinavia forests. Our jobs were lost overnight, we had to adapt to a new era of post-mining environmental rehabilitation.

So how do we live sustainability? - the simple answer is a return to a frugality model of post-second world war lifestyles. I didn’t live it, but came close to the lack of consumer choice; the one choice of flour in the plain brown (recycled) paper bag; local milk from a churn via a reused clay baked bottle; and butter in the singular, not the myriad of brand names we enjoy today. It’s where sustainability returns to localism and regionalism, because quite simply we can’t afford the transport costs to continue importing our food and energy needs.

Population and advanced technology has advanced to levels never seen in the development of humankind on plant earth. Globalism is set to die, not from student protests or lack of international resolve but simply from a lack of resources. We are entering an era where every destructive action creates an equally and opposite pollutive reaction which is well known to communities that live above contaminated land and groundwater.

Hey, I’m just your average (ab) normal sort :-} of guy, a Principal Environmental Engineer attempting to live sustainably in a remote community via internet communication technologies. So, we now grow our own food instead of watching continuous television, it helps to keep me exercised and by the way, the produce tastes how it used to be when I was a kid - when fast food was a tasty home grown carrot. And that fabulous baked aroma of fresh bread! Oh-lala. Our chooks provide us with eggs, that taste like a yolk should do – are we getting the picture here? Everything I had taken for granted in my earlier intensive city living. It would be nice to be organic, that only the rich can afford; but local sustainably resourced produce is more than a half way there in ‘doing your bit’ without compromising the money purse.

I still watch movies over the internet, I still go to the pub, but I know as a human being that people don’t like change; but that’s what we must do, to share out our resources to keep pace with an ever increasing population. This is not some wacky poly-communist solution; it is just plain common sense as 6 billion humans (Source: UN-2010) do not divide into the total volume of our non-renewable energy resources. Think of the world as a cake, with a thick layer of icing on top - well we have eaten the all the icing, and now the cake needs to be divided up for our future generations.

How do I know this?
I visited the Chinese Academy of Sciences, back in 1995. They informed me in their modelling of the Chinese population, against resource requirements; that a typical Chinese family requiring such luxuries such as a refrigerator, air conditioning, a car, a mobile phone etc…– an average so called ‘western lifestyle’/ would require the total of ten planet earth’s worth of resources to make that happen: and now 9 billion (Source: UN-2050) divided into one planet just accentuates the position.

So we need to change, and as a father, it’s like giving a gift to my son then taking it back. Its soul destroying in our resource intensive lifestyle. You know 1000 years ago; our ancestors had no technology, but had quality of life, something we all strive for in this world. So why can’t we as intelligent human beings adapt to a more simple lifestyle and keep all the luxuries we afford by the thinking outside of our comfortable position?

This is not a typical ‘green’ movement ‘doomsday’ message, just an ordinary guy, letting other people know how to adapt, simplify and change our lifestyles. As an example: the next time you go shopping, calculate how much it will cost to go to the supermarket and how much the real costs to buy exported food at the expense of local growers.

As a postscript, I have lived through a fascinating development of Homo sapiens but it is time to realise, that we owe our natural systems a promise to stabilise and realise our society for future generations – just in time of war, it is time to sacrifice., its time to pay back.

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