Throughout my journey towards a more sustainable lifestyle, which by the way only began 4 years ago last month, my reality has shifted more times than I can count on both hands.
As Plato wrote in The Phaedrus; “First appearance deceives many.” I discovered that I lived a life where I took everything at face value, but that soon changed in an instant.
The first shift in reality has been mentioned many times before. It was during the time I watched “An Inconvenient Truth” for the very first time. It made me instantly aware of Climate Change in a heartbeat, and its impacts on the planet and on humanity. This made me think hard and deep for the very first time in my life. I question now why it took me until I was 43 to have these kind of deep and meaningful thoughts, but hey, you cannot change the past.
Then I discovered the reality of Peak Oil and what many people believe to be its ramifications upon society. Not only did we have climate change to contend with, but PO as well. All this information to digest within the space of about 6 months was enough to do anyone’s head in. But I continued to seek more information and actions that I could take to prevent or delay these two bad boys, both caused by humans of course. I read back on my first post about PO and now realise how naive I was. I had not even grasped the full concept of what was about to come down at us.
The next shift in reality for me was getting a better understanding of Population Overshoot which has come about by the use of cheap fossil fuels in agriculture. Fertilisers, herbicides, pesticides and oil based fuels have played a massive part in what is known as the Green Revolution, which in turn has enabled our population to grow nearly 7 fold in just 110 years. It was about the same time I was introduced to the concept of Peak Everything, and here I was thinking Peak Oil was all we were facing.
Learning about how the thin fabric of society in the western world works after watching “The Corporation” shocked me into the realisation that all is not what it seems to be. I found that governments only had a little influence on its citizen, and it was that corporations really determine what we should like and desire. This reality was also backed up by reading “Affluenza“, which describes how consumerism became the norm. I figured out that by this time that I was not a conspicuous consumer any more, but a conscious provider.
This brought me to the realisation that “growth at all costs” was the dominant economical model that propels our society down a slippery slope. This model, I thought was totally unsustainable on a planet with finite resources, and in fact, to continue this western lifestyle we would need 3 planets to continue down this path.
All throughout these multiple shifts, lingering in the back of my mind, there was always one single re-occurring theme that was a common thread. That common thread was the use of fossil fuels, past, present, and future. With more research I learned that without these forms of cheap, dense energy we could not have created all the other realities that I discovered during my journey. Our ever accelerating use of the stuff is what is currently causing climate change, Peak everything, population overshoot, an unstable economy based on increasing demand for it, enhances our ability to decimate the environment and to unleash a mass extinction of species (including ourselves) at a rate that has never been seen before in 4.5 billion years.
So much for first appearances! So how did I stop going into a depressive spiral and not get out of bed each day directly after one of these shifts? Well, I tried to change my behaviours with each shift in reality. I found soon after my green epiphany that if I actually did something to improve the situation, then I felt much better about the new reality and was able to cope quite well. Then I learnt about the stages of change and became more aware of these stages and how to work through them quickly. It was this skill and these successful actions that spurred me on to bigger and bigger actions, until the present day where we are now. Skills to pay the bills, as my son Adam often told me. Skills for the future, more likely! Did I ever mention I like to put my hands in the dirt to relax. Growing your own food brings you back in touch with the planet, and helps you avert some of the negative effects of my discovered realities.
Now, I don’t know if I have made a difference in this big, big world of ours, but I do know one thing. I have made a difference to those immediately around me, and for that I am glad. We are more educated, understand things that others simply have no idea exist nor want to learn about, and have built a community of like-minded people around us. This is real community building in action, and all because I decided to take the invitation to watch a movie on a work day! It is funny how things pan out.
“A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.”
– John Lennon