I could not give up my car but is there a way to keep the essentials of a modern life, and enjoy the benefits of an environment-friendly lifestyle?”
Over the last three hundred years the speed of technological change has accelerated
Now very few of us learn mastery over the most recent piece of technology before it is superseded by another.
We have reaped untold benefits from this incredible depth of change: from the potato, once the trigger for the death of over a million Irish people 160 years ago, and now cheap as chips, to a couple living in a small 17th century house which they will extend to twice its size to accommodate a growing family.
We have more leisure time and holidays than ever before and it seems the appetite for this is insatiable. That is not an environment friendly lifestyle.
But is all this making us happy or just multiplying our wants?
Having An Evironment Friendly Lifestyle
There are many who are unable or unwilling to get on the gravy train, and are being left further and further behind.
Since globalization the desire for the comforts and conveniences of the West has spread to billions living in Asia and developing countries, taking us further from an environment-friendly lifestyle.
The real gifts of civilization are the rule of law, security, and justice and deep down these are the last things we would willingly give up.
But we still want an environment friendly lifestyle.
To have both freedom and protection, some sort of compromise must be struck between the philosophy of this time and that of the future, which I believe is a more sustainable one, i.e an environment-friendly lifestyle.
So how do we do this?
How To Develop an Environment-Friendly Lifestyle
First, we must discount the idea that all technology is good
Technology should be the servant not the master and can be split into good technology and bad technology.
That is the mantra to have an environment friendly lifestyle.
The Amish in America has retained their environment-friendly lifestyle and family structure.
Partly by not adopting every technology that comes along but by adopting those they feel are useful.
For instance, telephones are kept in stands at the end of the farm, a bit like the old red telephone boxes.
Some say the Amish are the only true alternative society in the world today since they abide by an environment-friendly lifestyle.
Perhaps we can learn from a culture where the murder rate is one of the lowest in the world, and mental health is some of the best despite living in a country that has some of the worst of both.
Bad technology is processed foods and refined sugars
In the West we have an epidemic of obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes and many other chronic and degenerative illnesses.
Life expectancy is now beginning to decline and no one is measuring the quality of health in that life.
For example; did the nineteenth century farm labourer who retired at seventy and lived for a further six or seven years, enjoy better health than the modern person who dies at eighty, but has been chronically ill and on medication since they were sixty five?
There is also a concept I call a technological bind; for example before refined sugar tooth decay was rare indeed, common people did not brush their teeth or go to the dentist and without emergencies such as impacted wisdom teeth and facial injuries kept their teeth for life.
Now we have a billion pound industry: we brush, floss, use mouthwash and are plagued with decay and gum disease, with some toddlers having all their teeth removed because they are so badly decayed.
Non-organic farming is another technological bind but that has been comprehensively covered elsewhere.
When we do not follow the natural processes within the soil it becomes infertile and inert and eventually blows away.
No one really knows what pesticides and herbicides (which are dilute poisons) are doing to us, or what effect combinations of these are having on us, and there is growing evidence that they are linked to some cancers. Such problems can be dealt with by having an environment-friendly lifestyle.
What about good technology?
Well these are the technological developments which do not cause large scale pollution and assist in a greener lifestyle.
These include solar panels; bio- digester sewage tanks that provide compost;.hydrogen oxygen powered cars that produce water as a waste product.
I can just see the green verges of motorways in desert countries forming wildlife corridors in the future!
The list of these new environmentally friendly technologies is growing but, do they provide long term benefit - not short term benefit with long term problems.
If everyone was to reduce their environmental impact by 50% that would be a tremendous win for the planet, and for us.
As the economy expanded for so too will the good technologies expand if we make good choices.
For us all to take steps towards a greener lifestyle, we do not have the luxury of perfection.
If you fly to the Caribbean are you going to add to global warming?
Make a choice: if you have an acre of woodland or have sponsored one elsewhere, you are at least helping to mitigate the effects of that choice.
Begin where you are. Plant some fruit trees in your garden while in your mind realise you are free to choose.
How to do that is another whole topic for another day.