We burn it in our cars, make things with it, ingest it in our food, and generally use the stuff every minute of the day. Unless you have totally removed yourself from 'the grid' or live in a yurt or cave, the unfortunate news is that you are a user!!! There is a big downside to a planet full of carbon junkies. The ramifications are events such as Climate Change, Fossil Fuel depletion, resource depletion, environmental damage, mass species extinction, to name a few.
So if we are all carbon junkies to varying degrees, who are the pushers? For every addiction, there is a supplier of the goods that cause the addiction. Well, I can think of a many, but I will just mention a few big, well established ones;
1. Fossil Fuel pushers. These shady characters lurk all over the globe. They are the oil companies, coal companies and suppliers of natural gas that we all use. They provide the raw materials for our addiction. Some like Exxon-Mobil try and keep us hooked by stopping us from reducing our use by the use of dis-information campaigns, and others like BP are big on high risk operations with little thought for the consequences.
2. Auto manufacturer pushers. Some of these pushers make big petrol guzzling, hydrocarbon burning monsters that satisfy some legitimate needs, but mainly are used to further inflate the ego's of heavily addicted carbon junkies. They have been know to stifle competing, non carbon addictive modes of transportation.
3. Advertising pushers. All forms of advertising attempt to convince us to want new shiny things made with carbon or manufactured with the help of carbon based energy supplies. Without these advertising gurus, we would not be so quick to get the violent urge to buy stuff that we don't need and therefore satisfy our addition with a big hit of stuff.
4. Economic pushers. The modern economy is constructed in such away that it needs to grow at all costs or crash into recession. When it hits a finite resource boundary, such as fossil fuels, growth becomes impossible in its current form. By growing, we use energy, and most of human energy is generated by carbon laden ancient sunlight stored in fossil fuels. The economy drives our addictive needs.
I could list more pushers like fertilizer, herbicide, pesticide companies that permeate our Industrial food complex. I could list fast food companies who have transformed the way we eat and grow our food using these carbon derivatives. I could list the real estate developers and the housing industry for giving little thought to the sustainability of suburbia. You get the general idea by now. However, just because I have pointed out a few obvious pushers, it doesn't mean we are not partly to blame for being addicted ourselves. Pushers don't exist without junkies.
So if we are all addicted to carbon it is many forms, what can we do about it? Well lets take the example of the three junkies that I met on the train the other day and turn the conversation on its head. What if, instead of talking about methadone, they were actually articulating their carbon addiction. This is how the conversation might have transpired;
First bloke, "How many tonnes of carbon are you on?".
Other bloke, "Shit, I am only on 40 tonnes!
First bloke, "Fuck, I am down to 30. Where do you get your stuff?"
Chick, "Down at supermarket, see, I got some in my shopping trolley."
First bloke, "You aught to go to rehab love, there is a free one in Fitzroy, for six weeks."
Chick, "I need six fucking months mate!"
So as 'First bloke' said, and he really did hit the nail on the head, we all have to go into Carbon Rehab, just like any other addicted person would have to. Whether it be self imposed or legislated by governments, it has to start right now. Bleeding obvious, but just like an addict, very hard to give up for good. Hey, I am no angel, I still use the stuff, albeit in much smaller quantities.
During my family's journey towards a more sustainable lifestyle, we have also found it hard to kick the habit, and to ween ourselves from carbon. Our society is not geared up to go carbon cold turkey, even if we wanted to. Like our family did, I suggest small reductions over time, tackling the easy and cheap methods first like energy efficiency, which will give you the biggest reduction in carbon usage for the least amount of cost.
Let all try to reduce our addiction, before it is forced upon us. Peak Oil is looming and in the similar way that any addict gets withdrawal symptoms, we too will all suffer from a carbon shock if the current supply is taken away suddenly! Anger and denial will be common place unless we take decisive steps now to kick the habit.
So avoid the junkies if you can, and the road to being clean is a rocky one, however by all weening ourselves together, we might stand half a chance of survival on the other side of the peak.