Base Camp is where visitors go to relax, unwind, and get familiar with an anthology of earlier material.

Is Less More? Not If We Don’t Come Clean – Part 2


This piece follows on from Is Less More? Part 1.

In the first part of the piece we concluded with a thought experiment regarding sustainability, showing that our unsustainable path requires sharing things. Yet we also showed that sharing increases exposure to one another while decreasing personal liberties, which leads to tension and confrontation, which can only be alleviated by increasing personal liberties and space – which brings us right back where we started.

The argument may sound disheartening, but it is necessary to make. We need to face the realities of the situation, starting with the basic, logical setups. This is not a time to be creative by burying our heads in the noble sand and coming up with snazzy but ultimately recycled ideas. We have to acknowledge the raw realities of where we are as a species, as a biological super-organization, and act accordingly.

The reason is simple. We have reached a stage where a tightening of the belt and more regulation mean little in the grand scheme of things; where toning everything down will eventually lead to taking away the liberties we deem so inalienable to human existence. There are many ways to chain a person, you see, so let us keep our wits about us. Just like we have come to recognize the golden cages, we must learn to identify the new age cages, the nirvana prisons, the organic regimes, the healthy-whatnot dogmas.

Yes, surprising as it may seem, there is a high probability that in the process of cleaning up our act things will turn in on themselves in a nasty, holier-than-thou way, as happens with all causes that claim to sweep people clean of their problems. A closer look at the underlying premises behind our newest initiative to clean up our act so that we may continue living our lives as always reveals the following: wanting less, settling for less, taking the scales down, turning into post-modern farmers who are satisfied with living within the radius a carbon-free vehicle will take us, slowing down time and pace of life to pre-industrial degrees, expanding the life of the world by narrowing our scope of it, cutting down personal space, limiting personal utility – all these things are synonymous to going green – or at least many people unfamiliar with the cause think so. Whether true or not, it doesn’t matter, many individuals regard it as such, and their reservations have to be met if the cause is to have wider appeal.

Time will tell if these worries are valid. If they are, going green would involve paying a hefty price. Some say it would not be worth it because our personal liberties are too precious to sacrifice. Others disagree because the only other choice is living in a toxic, bleak environment, or dying altogether.

Let us assume that there is merit in the potential backlashes of the green movement. How do we deal with them?

The best way to do it is to ground the cause solid. Going green should become not about reining in the vices of people – because turning the cause into a predominantly moral one has its drawbacks and may backfire down the line. It should instead be about pursuing our goals in a more sustainable manner. The cause would fare better if it grew bottom-up, as a practical movement, whose aim is to invent clean, cheap and efficient energy that will allow us to maintain our current scope, even expand on it without destroying our surroundings, so that we may evolve into further knowledge.

Until then i.e. without clean, cheap and efficient energy, green is not good enough, and is likely to turn into our new Soviet Red down the line, the cause in whose name we will need to forego personal flamboyance and become frugal again, in the name of society and solidarity 2.0.

I am coming down too hard on the green movement, true. But somebody has to, now that it is still picking up momentum, and hopefully more people will do the same – I am not referring to big business and people who believe that global warming is a fraud, but rather to rational, critical people – so that we may have an open, constructive, unfettered discussion about what going green entails. That is if we truly want to change things rather than create a cleaner, slicker version of the same old dysfunctional setup.

In the next piece I shall expose the naive presumptuousness so typical of the the paradigms that have led us to the unsustainable position we are in, showing how it is not a function of their setup but of humanity in general. Moreover, I will identify this naive presumptuousness not in these paradigms but in some of the fundamental premises of the Green movement itself, so that we may understand how our good intentions and emotions can get the better of us, setting us up for a series of moral and practical bubbles down the line. More importantly, I will do this with the aim to identify solid ways to go green, which do not involve throwing ourselves in a loop.

The constructive way of going green: 

Humor is a great ally: