Slowing Down

Watching An Inconvenient Truth, it is hard for me not to wonder what we are so scared of that has stopped us from facing this global crisis head-on.  Sure, humans are change-averse, just as the frog who jumps into the pot of tepid water will not notice that it is getting boiled alive.  But given that we have the scientific knowledge that allows us to be fully aware of our predicament, is there any reason — even a selfish one — to leave this problem for the next generation?

I am not as knowledgeable as Al Gore about the objections that climate change ‘skeptics’ might raise, but the idea that we would lose jobs really smacks of narrow-mindedness to me.  We know that we have enough resources on our planet to feed all of us (though that may become less true as the global population continues to balloon).  If we focused on sharing the pie a little more evenly, rather than on ‘job creation,’ we might be able to get back to a deeper purpose in life.

Contrary to popular wisdom, we were not put on this earth to sit in an office from 9-5 for most of our lives churning out reports.  No one should have as much wealth at their personal disposal as the 1% do, and no one should be forced to live like the bottom 10% do when we have the resources (globally) to all live middle-class lives.  So what are all these lost jobs really for?

If we eliminated the use of fossil fuels from our daily lives, the area that would be most affected is transportation.  To focus just on that aspect, if we no longer had the use of planes and cars, what would we be losing, really?  Our sense of entitlement to fly around the world in 24 hours?  If we allow for emergencies (and celebrations), what happens in our lives that requires us to travel that far, that fast?  With the internet remaining intact, we would not lose contact.  I would argue that we would learn to live a slower pace of life.  I also see this as a net positive, as what is it that we are rushing towards?

Not only has humanity existed for millennia without all the technologies — fossil-fuel based and otherwise — that we take for granted, but much of what we prize as the best humanity has ever accomplished was written, drawn, thought, and experienced by humans who lived without any of these tools that allow us to be everywhere at once.  If we are still studying the Torah (e.g.) as a text that has relevant lessons to teach us today, what do we really think we are getting from all of our technology that is timeless and indispensable?  Like the child who is stuffing his face with chocolate and candy, we need to wean ourselves off of our addiction to fossil fuels before we develop global diabetes.


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