Friday, March 03, 2006

Making Sense

Science makes sense to me. The natural world makes sense. People don’t.

I knew a man who was in financial trouble, behind on his bills, had no savings and felt depressed. To feel better, he bought a new TV -- on credit.

I know people who pay to have their yard mowed, take elevators and escalators, search for parking spots close to their destination, expect workers to carry groceries to their car and pay monthly fees to a health club because they need exercise.

Here’s another example. “Mr Blair echoed President Bush's call for new technologies to combat climate change.” (

Technology? Technology? We make foolish decisions, glorify greed, elevate evil, foul our earth, destroy species and then we think we can solve our problems with technology? How many years will this take? What new problems will our new technology create? As I said, people don’t make sense to me.

Here’s part of my personal plan.

1. Keep my tires inflated or slightly over-inflated to reduce gas consumption.

2. Pick up the litter on the roads near my house. (I take part with a group that does this each March and October.)

3. Recycle materials and products. (An aluminum can should never go to a landfill.)

4. Take canvas bags to the grocery rather than accept paper or plastic.

5. Donate to The Nature Conservancy to protect lands. (

6. Keep learning about sustainability, the environment and the needs of all life forms. (The local community college offers several wonderful classes at a reasonable cost.)

7. Use only CFLs (compact florescent lights) which require less electricity.

8. Boycott businesses void of ethics and environmental concern.

9. Purchase locally.

Do you notice the pattern? Technology is not needed. A little discipline, some knowledge and a desire to live responsibly is all that is needed. I can do these things. Anyone living in a city or in a rural area can do these things.

Part of the problem, as I see it, is that we tend to want to blame others and expect someone else to solve our problems. We want to take the easy way and we want instant gratification.

Personally, rather than wait for congress to become responsible, rather than wait for businesses to look beyond immediate profit, rather than dream about some technological miracle, I’m going to continue implementing personal changes that help rather than harm. It may be hopeless and too late but, dammit, I'm going to try.

I listed nine items above. Can I expand that list to 100 -- to 200 -- to 500? I think I can and I invite you to join me. Give me your ideas; use the email button on my blog. Point me to ideas and resources on the web. I’ll compile the list and post it on a website.

The goal: to compile a list of at least 250 items that ANYONE can implement to reduce energy consumption, to protect the environment and to give future generations a chance.


Blogger Alex Pendragon said...

Now, if I could just get my wife to let me at least TRY and rig up some composting toilets......sigh.

Yes, I need to practice what I preach, and I'm trying real hard, but, I'm still gonna preach. I can't help it.
It's in my nature. I'm THE Michael. It's what THE Michael's do..........

Many, I love reading your stuff!

3/03/2006 05:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Programmable thermostats, use your bicycle, read from the library instead of purchasing books, use nature's airconditioning (open the windows) instead of electric AC, cook with fresh foods instead of prepackaged as often as possible, think before you throw something away - your trash is someone else's treasure...

3/04/2006 05:39:00 AM  
Blogger anonymous julie said...

I dreamed up quite the list and will email it along. Unfortunately I am my own programmable thermostat but it works all right.

As an architect I have many opportunities to conserve energy by choosing materials and building methods wisely - but - it takes its toll at the financial end.

There are so many small changes that can be made by regular folks with little effort; pennies in the jar add up.

3/04/2006 08:23:00 AM  
Blogger Bob said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3/04/2006 04:33:00 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

Cycle...very enjoyable way of getting around.
Nice post..keep up the good work.

3/04/2006 04:36:00 PM  
Blogger Gaye said...

I'm one of those people you don't understand... I joined a gym to exercise... funny thing... I've realized I exercise much more consistently and longer at home instead of in the gym. Oh well; lessons learned...

3/04/2006 06:36:00 PM  
Blogger Trée said...

Paul, excellent post. Never thought of #4. Good stuff.

Here is my contribution. At least once a week, take a cold shower. Not only will it save electricity but you will feel very invigorated and spend less time in the shower which probably means less soap used too.

I like Rob's idea too ;-)

3/05/2006 01:09:00 PM  
Blogger Norene Griffin said...

Here's one more: don't buy what you don't need. Not only do you save money and avoid having to throw something out one day, you also save manufacturing and transport energy and manufacturing and packaging waste.

3/05/2006 11:24:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Clayton said...

Paul, spoken like a good Quaker; yes, they are noted for 'small' improvements, like my friend at Gainesville who decided we should not use chocolate because it's raised by slaves. Well by her lights I'm not a good Quaker.

We do a few things, thanks to Ellie. Use small cars, recycle newsprint, best of all, be very, very thrifty.

BTW re my memoirs: I've made a slight improvement; go to index.htm, which will allow you to skip around.

3/06/2006 10:38:00 AM  

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