Five Percent: Conserve Energy

Climate Change Is Important: Energy Conservation is the First Step

January 22, 2008

Stock Market, Recession: More Early Warning Tremors

The stock markets are down, reflecting the impact of a weak American economy. The weak American economy is attributed to the sub-prime housing bubble, and energy costs. President Bush is responding similarly to this crisis as he did to Katerina: denial, with a smattering of acknowledgment wrapped as “economic stimulus” which is translated as “more money for the rich”. But this is not a political polemic. Been there. Done that. This is a little reminder that the 10% drop in the markets witnessed in these last few weeks is just one of the many signs of a fragile economy. And of course I think that fragility stems from two related issues:

  1. Our Dependence on Excessive Consumption

Oh, hmm, yeah, that’s only one thing. The whole energy thing, and that pesky Iraq war thing, and that gnarly global warming thing, a nation that is grossly overweight — these are all just outcomes of our excessive consumption.

But why do we consume so much?

We consume so much because we can. It’s not just human nature, it’s nature. So the real question is, why do we have so much to consume? The answer here is very, very simple: we have pretty much unlimited access to energy. We have figured out how to make a nuclear bomb, but have we figured out how to harness nuclear power yet? That’s a figurative question, of course.

We have also learned how to employ technology to use this energy (and in a few cases, even how to use it efficiently). Much progress has been made. Most of the world isn’t killing itself in the traditional ways any more (well, ok, six out of seven continents).

What we need to realize is that we may not be hacking off limbs, raping, pillaging and plundering quite so much as before. But all the other symptoms of overconsumption I mentioned before are, like obesity, “silent killers”. The biggest is global warming because it’s not going to be obvious until it’s too late.

Like an earthquake, tornado or hurricane, there’s very little warning. There are some signals, and a little time to take cover.

I hope that Katerina, the Iraq war, $3.00 gas, and economic instability are not the signals of a coming problem.

But if they might be, would we be spending our efforts on economic stimulus? Nope. It would either be too late, or we would be spending our time, remaining money and mental resources on figuring out what they hell we can do to stop it.

We can stop it. We would all have to care a lot more about the problems than we do now, and stop thinking we can keep up the excessive consumption that got us here.

We must take action, both on an individual level and on a global level.

Now would be a good time to start.


  1. I found your website on my friends site. He is a very smart man in England and I live near Chicago. We are both interested in controlling light pollution. To me, light pollution and global warming go hand in hand. Our village recently passed a ground breaking light pollution ordinance for the Chicago area. Plus we passed a proclamation supporting Earth Hour. You can find it on under cities, other. My English friend and I are finding that not a lot of people are aware that March 29 is Earth Hour across the globe. What are you planning for Earth Hour?

    Comment by Debra Norvil — February 26, 2008 @ 12:10 am

  2. Debra —

    I completely agree with the linkage between light pollution and global warming. Indeed, I am beginning to see that there are linkages between many of today’s most significant social, political and economic issues and global warming.

    In my view, we have an addiction to consumption (especially here in the US). We consume too much of everything: fuel, housing, goods, food, water, and on and on. We take for granted that we can just consume without any real cost. Light pollution is one of many “symptoms” of this addition.

    Of course we are understanding now that there is, and has been a huge cost borne by the planet. I am seeing us beginning to take action, but the progress is slow. Hopefully not too slow.

    I have signed up for and will write a post here, and have also added a link to the Blogroll on this site.

    Thanks for your comment!


    Comment by Tom Harrison — February 26, 2008 @ 10:18 am

  3. […] independence. In a moment of (uncharacteristic) optimism, I also think it may be the case that the financial crisis will provide the opportunity for us to take exactly the right kind of actions to address energy […]

    Pingback by Energy Independence, Global Warming and the Economy | Five Percent: Conserve a Little Energy — October 17, 2008 @ 1:24 pm

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