Through A Different Lens....................... 10 Years Car-Free
headlight lens © Ford Motor Company 1937
Today marks our 10th Anniversary of living car-free.
By "car-free", I mean that Peggy and I haven't owned a car since January 31st of 1997.
But, we have found it necessary to rent cars on several occasions, particularly during the time our son was hospitalized and recuperating after his near fatal car-wreck in 2005.
Still, cars haven't been part of our daily lives for those 10 years.
When we owned a car, we drove somewhere around the national average of 12,000 miles per year. So, according to this 'An Inconvenient Truth' CO2 calculator, our personal carbon dioxide output has been reduced by nearly 6.5 tons per year.
That's 130,000 pounds of CO2 over the 10 year period!
But, we must also factor in the approximately 6 thousand miles we have driven during that time, which means we need to subtract 6,500 pounds from that 130,000, bringing our net infernal combustion pollution reduction down to 123,500 pounds for the decade. This means we reduced our personal CO2 output by nearly 87%!
Talk about a diet, now, to me, that's something to celebrate!
Yet, in a world of 6 1/2 billion people, does it make any difference?
Not really. Not to anyone but Peggy and I, and a small minority of eco-centric types whom, according to the status quo, would be defined as part of the lunatic fringe.
To a planet that's been around for some 4 1/2 billion years, and seen millions of species come and go, does it make a difference?
None whatsoever, unless you happen to be one of those species who have come, but not yet gone.
In a vast Universe of countless galaxies, stars, and planets, does it make any difference?
...unless, by some miracle of chance, you have the good fortune to be currently alive and breathing oxygen upon the beautiful blue planet, Earth.
No, a few individual members of an entire culture which is addicted to conspicuous consumption and material gratification aren't going to make much of a difference, so why bother?
Well, that's a good question, and one I've asked myself many times.
Once you know that smoking cigarettes causes cancer do you continue smoking?
Many people do, and continue doing so, even when they're hooked up to an oxygen tank or permanently bedridden. I've seen people, whose vocal chords had been removed because of smoking related cancer, suck on cigarettes through a trachea valve.
That's what I call addiction, mental, emotional, and physical addiction.
Yet, this is supposedly a free country, and I would say that's their business, as long as I don't have to pay the associated medical bills.
So, what is the difference between a person who, through denial, apathy, illness, or self-loathing, commits suicide by ignoring their addictions, and someone who hastens the destruction of a planetary life support system through denial of their addiction and its consequences?
The only difference I see is that people who commit suicide through substance abuse are just hurting themselves, and those who care about them, where people who would poison an entire planet because they refuse to face their own addictions, are not only suicidal, but homicidal, genocidal, and biocidal as well.
Are we that oblivious to reality, and to our own responsibilities?
Do we just not give a damn, or do we feel too hopelessly addicted to our old habits? Or, are we just in denial that there is a real problem, and that each one of us is a big part of it?
Of the thousands of cars which drive past us every week, blowing exhaust in our faces as we walk around Big Bear, how many of the drivers ever think about what they're doing, or about our health, or the stench they're spewing into rarefied mountain air belonging to everybody?
Why is something like that legal?
Should it be legal for me to shit all over everyone and everything?
What's the difference?
Legal or not, it's most certainly immoral!
Todays' infernal combustion automobile is probably the worst of our addictions, because of the magnitude of its destructiveness, but our disease goes much deeper than that.
How often have you heard the term "for the benefit of mankind"?
Humankind, blinded by its own cleverness, and imagined self-importance, values each technology primarily for the benefits to mankind.
Wouldn't a species with the slightest bit of common sense, and some desire for long-term survival, assess technologies primarily on their benefits to all life on Earth and the long-term health of their ecosystem?
Isn't survival considered a benefit to mankind?
We have grossly overpopulated the planet through the invention and use of technologies which supposedly benefit mankind. Yet it is becoming clearer every day that those very technologies may soon render our planet uninhabitable for those who would breathe oxygen, including the mankind they allegedly benefit.
And, once again, we turn to the technologies of an obsolete social & economic model---to the proponents of a failing civilization---for so-called clean car technology, alternative fuels, and renewable energy sources, so the worlds 6 1/2 billion people can, by 2041, become 9 billion (see chart here).
Contemporary wisdom as seen through the dominant lens:
For the good of mankind, all 6 1/2 billion of us, we will find solutions.
The global economy will not fail because our technology will find ways around nature's limits.
I wonder what percentage of the world population ever considers the consequences we face if this ever-expanding global economy of 6 1/2 billion people doesn't fail until our ecosystem does?
Can we even imagine the collapse of our entire civilization, the complete die-off of the human species, a total extinction of life on the planet, or an Earth that more resembles Mars?
Are we aware that the entire world is now embroiled in resource wars over oil, water, minerals, fish & game stocks, and arable land?
Have we paid attention to the fact that huge tracts of land recently used for growing food, or sustaining wildlife, are now being converted to growing crops for ethanol based fuels, or, that more than 50% of the pollution an automobile generates during its lifetime is produced during the manufacturing processes, or that we are in the midst of the 6th great extinction period in the history of our planet, and that habitat loss due to human expansion, industrialism, climate change, pollution, and resource extraction is causing those extinctions (I recently read that 13% of Americans have never heard of Global Warming)? READ THE LATEST CLIMATE CHANGE NEWS HERE (added 2/2/2007).
As the diversity of life on our planet diminishes, as the atmosphere deteriorates, and the pollution of our air, water, and soil increases exponentially, as world fisheries are depleted, and soil erosion claims more & more acres of farmland, how do we respond?
For the good of mankind---to provide jobs, housing, schools, and to accommodate more resource extraction in support of the teeming hoards---we build ever more subdivisions, shopping centers, and freeways.
WE'RE ON THE TITANIC!
We've bumped up against something and the ship seems to be listing a bit. But this is the "unsinkable" Titanic, a marvel of modern technology, and besides, the band is still playing, many of the passengers are still dancing, and the crew in charge says there's really nothing to worry about.
Anyone who has seen Walt Disney's Fantasia will remember the Sorcerer's Apprentice, whose ineptness with technological wizardry, and Mickey Mouse tomfoolery, backfired when his creations ran amok, swarming uncontrollably with their own single-minded purpose.
WE ARE MICKEY MOUSE!
And unfortunately, like Mickey, we're desperately hoping that the wizard wakes up soon to save our sorry butts.
Only this is no cartoon, unless you believe what you see on television.
Much like the prism design of the headlight lens above, from a 1937 Ford---which aims light in a prescribed direction, for a relatively short distance---our vision today of what lies ahead is mostly defined for us by the corporate media propaganda machine of the dominant culture, and designed to focus our attention on economically specific, anthropocentric, elitist solutions. READ HERE HOW A CONSERVATIVE AMERICAN THINK-TANK IS WORKING TO PUT THIER OWN SPIN ON TODAY'S BEST CLIMATE CHANGE SCIENCE (added 2/2/2007).
I try to contemplate the future through a different lens than the one offered by those who would rule the world solely for the benefit of mankind.
Through this alternate lens (I might call it a full-spectrum lens), which is focused upon the Laws Of Nature and the needs of all living things, it becomes more obvious that there will very likely be zero automobiles in the not too distant future of planet Earth---bio-fueled, hybrid, hydrogen or otherwise.
But the clarity of Nature's lens is where I also find reasons to hope that life itself---with or without Homo-sapiens---might continue to evolve and flourish on Earth, regardless of the arrogant selfishness of todays' dominant species! (HERE'S AN ARTICLE ABOUT THE PROSPECTS OF LIFE ON EARTH (updated 2/2/2007).
And, like I've said before, hope is more powerful than despair.
My hope might actually evolve into optimism if I saw the faintest hint that individual human beings, in huge numbers, were willing to address their own addictions to destructive technology.
I still have plenty of addictions of my own, like hot-running water, indoor plumbing, electricity, refrigeration, music, photography, the internet, beer, wine, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
And I'll be working on some of those...
...but I'm already way over the automobile, and the stupid-ass television, which is nothing more than a brainwashing advertising platform for this whole conspicuously consumptive life-threatening mess.
An 86.7% reduction in our fossil-fuel burning?
123,500 fewer pounds of CO2?
...but it's our small contribution to the future, to your future.
It's one simple thing we can do, and it feels good.
It feels right!
Love & Peace