It’s The Stuff

Last week I watched The Story of Stuff.  Although the narrator Annie Leonard was pretty upbeat about our ability to change, it left me feeling even more hopeless.

What it comes down to is this:

The US economy is based on increasing levels of consumption – Annie’s “Golden Arrow”.

Even the conservative IPCC report issued last October claims that the world needs to reduce carbon emissions by 20%-40%.  “If we continue to do what we are doing now, we are in deep trouble,” said Ogunlade Davidson of Sierra Leone, who served as co-chair of the IPCC Working Group that produced Working Group III Report “Mitigation of Climate Change”

IPCC thinks that we can all work together to reduce green house gas emissions. Annie Leonard urges us to work together to decrease our consumption.

But last week, I was sitting with my client, a nice little old lady named Martha, and listening to my boss talk to Martha about a stained bath robe. “Look at this Martha!  We need to get you a new robe.  This stain looks terrible!”

Martha clutched the robe to herself.  “I like this robe.  There’s nothing wrong with it.  So what if it has a stain?  It’s not like the President’s coming for breakfast.”

My boss tsked and shook her head.  “You deserve to have nice things, Martha!  I’m going to get rid of that old, stained robe and buy you a new one.”

This is a classic example of Golden Arrow Head;  we have been trained for a generation to consume, and our industry is locked into planned obsolescence. 

Do you buy a new pair of sneakers ever six to eight months?  How about only buying them every twelve to sixteen months, instead?  What?  They’ll fall apart before then?  Oh, right.

In 2007, Dr. Michael Raupach reported that greenhouse gasses are now rising three times faster than they were in the 1990’s.

Our green house gas emissions are rising three times faster since the signing of the Kyoto Protocol.

And, according to surveys, though most folks believe that the Earth is getting a might toasty, only about 15% think that it’ll get bad enough to effect their grand-children, let alone themselves.

The majority of Americans continue to oppose carbon taxes as a way to address global warming — either in the form of gasoline (67 percent against) or electricity taxes (71 percent against).

If we won’t agree to a rise in gasoline or electricity tax, I really don’t think that we’ll cut our consumption and increase our recycling to the level necessary to save us.

We just won’t do it.


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