Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Climate Change and Consumption

Full room to start with!!! Lots of people interested in the topic. That got me excited. This one was less interactive though, a bit more like a serious university lecture but it gave me a lot of insight into what some young people think.

Full room indicated that there is an increasing recognition in the public that we consume a little bit too much. Although, it could be that the panel on Prosperity without growth influenced more people to attend this particular workshop to find out more on the topic. The information provided wasn’t anything too different to what I have already had in my mind: We consume too much, we need much less than that and marketing creates a lot of our “needs”. So let’s go to the activity. In groups, we were asked to write a list of all the things we had consumed from the moment we got up that day. The popular items I can remember were water, car, fuel, food, air, clothing, shampoo, heat, soap, make-up, transport.

Then we were asked to circle the ones we considered essential to our survival, those without which we cannot live. Most groups circled water, air, food. And then we had to give a name to the rest of items we didn’t circle, or analyze what role they play in our lives. There seemed to be a general feeling that these other things not only were luxuries but that we do not need any of them. Even someone was arguing that we don’t need transport. Maybe there was not enough time to understand more of the context from which each person was talking, so maybe this conclusion is not accurate: I felt a bit of extremism. Like a general vibe saying that we should only use what is essential to our survival. Although I have firmly held that thought before, I now believe that there is usefulness to our species in having what we have, even when that has led to being very close to what it seems like self-destruction.

To produce and have all the things we consume, lots of relationships were established. All those things have been part of our journey to discover who we are and what we could do. I don’t believe that as human beings we are on earth just to survive, and behind all things we seem to be doing wrong, and the systems we’ve created that are finally making evident they are obsolete, the things we consume and produce to keep a system that is taking us where we’re heading, there is the realization that what we have is not what we intended to create. How would we know where we want to go if not because we now know where we don’t want to go?? So yes, we do have lots of things we don’t need to survive, but survive is not our final goal. And yes, there are many things we don’t need for any reason, but combined with all what is happening around the world, they are taking humanity to a different direction. I actually feel like I want to say “Thank you”…otherwise when would have we considered to take a different direction if not because we see where our current models are taking us?

There was a discussion about money. I felt like there is still a mental block about it. There was a subtle association to communism and socialism amongst some when the topic was brought up. I heard comments about how people’s work and capacities can only be valued by using money, and someone was declared “too idealistic” because he believes that the identification of self and stuff is disappearing. Having said that, most of the “blocking” comments came from the same individual and provoked an adverse reaction from the majority, particularly the “too idealistic” one. That was actually a sign of hope to me. Between the young there seems to be more openness to new ideas and adversity to old ones.

And last observation was: These guys seemed to want an instruction, they know there is a relationship between the state of the environment and consumption, amongst other things, but they don’t know what to do about it, they may have ideas, they have a stand on the topic, they want to do something but they don’t know what, they don’t know how and they’d like some support to start something…anything. They’re looking for inspiration; they look like they’re a bit scared to risk too much…someone has to tell them that they must start, whatever it is, just start. Not many, if anyone at all, have done what they are looking for, it is up to them, up to us to do it, we are the ones we’re looking for and the support we are looking goes beyond the need of mentoring.

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