March 20, 2018

Justifying Overconsumption

Overconsumption hurts everyone. It can not be justified.

Getting people to buy stuff they don't need is very profitable. Therefore, hundreds of billions of dollars is spent every year to get us to want things we don't need. Needs are altered by this well funded marketing machine, and over time we come to need some of the things we didn't used to need.

In order to keep the whole con going, wants must become needs. Consequently, consumer culture comes up with all kinds of ready made excuses for our high consumption buying habits.

We are enabled by insidious advertising slogans. Remember "Shop till you Drop"? Or "Whoever dies with the most toys wins"?

Wow, those are sounding pretty dumb in 2018.

So how do we live with ourselves when that voice deep inside gives us the reminder that to use more when less would suffice is a crime against the Earth and everything on it? We make excuses in order to perpetuate our ongoing denial.

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses

- “I deserve it.” No, you really don't. You deserve food, clothing, shelter, love, freedom, and opportunities to realize your true potential as a compassionate human being, and nothing else. No one deserves to take more than their fair share of the planet's resources.

- “I work hard.” As Marla commented here on Inter. Women's Day, "If working hard was the only factor, African women would be billionaires." Yup. So you work hard. Way to go.

- “I would die without it.”, or "I would rather die without it." No, you won't die without bacon. Or a car that goes 300km/hr. Or an exotic vacation. You might wish you were dead for a while, but you'll get over it. Really.

- "If I don't buy it, someone else will." Not necessarily. What if more and more people stop buying things they don't need? Manufacturers will stop making them. The Earth will smile.

- "I will look poor if I don't have lots of stuff." No. But you might look like a minimalist. Still, I would rather look poor than look selfish and out of touch with ecological reality.

- Who wouldn't want nice things?" The best nice things are not things that can be bought. If the nice things you have all come from stores, you might want to reassess your actual quality of life.

- "I can afford it." But our planet can not. Neither can the millions of people living in poverty. Or wildlife. Or our forests. Or oceans. You might be able to afford it, but We can't.

We should not be justifying our poor consumption habits this late in the game. Today, there are no innocents. Information is too easy to access, and we can all easily learn the facts surrounding how our excessive consumer habits are fuelling ecological crises around the planet.

There are no longer excuses, only lame excuses. Wealth does not change the fact, or amount, of your fair share of resources. To expect more, with this many people on the planet, is an unhealthy obsession fuelled by a dying culture of "more at any cost or consequence".

In 2018 one can no longer justify engaging in a lifestyle that needlessly wastes valuable resources in an orgy of overconsumption. We know it doesn't make us happier, so the logical solution would be to stop doing it.

As soon as possible.

For everyone's benefit, including your own.

March 14, 2018

Good-bye Snowshoes, Hello Maple Syrup

A Nova Scotia maple syrup operation.

What a winter. Unlike the previous several winters, this winter had a marked lack of snow. While it was nice to have milder temperatures, I prefer being able to play in deep snow all winter long. That was not to be this year.

After only 5 snowshoeing adventures earlier this winter, it looks like the season is drawing to an unnaturally early close. You know it is not long for winter when the maple syrup season begins, and producers here in Nova Scotia are saying this is the earliest start in decades.

Even in an ordinary year, maple syrup is the earliest agricultural activity around here. For maple sap gathering to begin, the weather must be below freezing at night, and above freezing during the day. These conditions are usually experienced some time around the beginning in March.

This year some maple tappers were done by mid February, and this is the third year in a row that saw earlier starts than the average.

Canada has a long history of maple syrup production. Indigenous peoples showed early settlers how to harvest and boil the sap. The fourth moon of the year in late March early April, was known as Izhkigamisegi Geezis, "the boiling moon", to the Obijway people.

I am thinking that might have to be changed to the third moon of the year.

Climate changes will require us to adapt to all manner of new conditions. This is what some in the area think is likely to occur:

"Scientists expect Nova Scotia to see more powerful storms, rising sea levels, storm surges, extreme precipitation, flash flooding, loss of sea ice, and hotter, drier summers and wetter, warmer winters."

And a earlier, shorter maple syrup season. And summer droughts. Researchers didn't give their outlook for snowshoeing, but I can see that I will probably have to find a different winter exercise activity.

Oh, my snowy woods. I miss you already. The woods will have less snow, and more ticks, and that will not be the worst of it. We are headed into uncharted climate and ecological territory, providing even more reasons to live a more simple, low carbon, low on the food chain, local lifestyle.

But the good news is that I can visit my neighbour down the road for fresh maple syrup a couple of weeks earlier than usual. That seems like a small consolation, but I do try to celebrate the little things.

How long, I wonder, before I will be able to grow my own rice?

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