Friday, March 9, 2012

of course I'm a hypocrite!

hello 561ba890-682d-11e1-9664-000f20980440 (if that even is your real name)...!

Today I am replying to a thoughtful commentator (commenter?). My character has been called into question, and that's fair. In a round about way I have been called a hypocrite, and I don't actually deny it. I drive a car, I wash my clothes in a machine, I own a house which requires heat and light, I have a baby for whom we buy (P.C. Green, but still) disposable diapers, I'm not a raw-food vegan, I drink coffee and tea, I own all kinds of factory-made resource-based instruments... etc. etc. etc. So yes, I'm a hypocrite, but I think that's part and parcel of being a human being. We are flawed and we are broken and we can't do anything right. We screw up. But we try, and we learn, and in fact I have found that the more mistakes we make the faster we learn. So I'm fast-tracking it, apparently.

In what is part-digression and part-related-illustration, one of the things that drives me the craziest about politicians these days is their unwillingness to accept failure, or to be seen as having ever made a mistake. It is completely insane and inhuman to think that anyone, particularly anyone tasked with leading and running a country, is infallible. The bigger the responsibility, the bigger the job, and presumably the bigger the mistakes that are made along the way which, when addressed and dealt with openly, can lead to greater wisdom in both decision-making and policy-enacting. People! Soilent Green is made of PEOPLE! wake up. Government is made of people just like you and me whose capacity for perfection in anything is NIL. Anyone who pretends otherwise thinks you're an idiot.

But back to the question at hand: am I, Ben Bowen, environmental blogger, a hypocrite? But of course! It's one of the reasons I drink. ha ha. I think, unless I live squatting in a grass hut on Crown Land and only eat bugs and berries, that I will always be so. It is one of the unfortunate consequences of living in 21st-century North America. But that doesn't mean I don't want to try to defend my position. Not being capable of a complete quaquaversal should not mean that I decide to throw in the towel, buy a Hummer and an AC unit for every room, and water my lawn 24/7 all summer. I still think striving to make small differences in my lifestyle is worthwhile.

I thought it might be useful or me to detail some of those differences in one post, given that a good many of them are spread out all over the blog:
  • we put our laundry on the line outside from late March to early October
  • Among many dietary choices I've made, I don't eat red meat, since ruminants (primarily cows in N.America, but sheep on the opposite side of the world) produce methane, which harms the atmosphere
  • I try, when I drive, not to exceed about 110km/hr since anything over that (or, in fact, under about 80k) burns more gas in my car, and I walk to the grocery store as often as I can, though carrying home a full load of groceries hurts my back, so I mostly do drive.
  • I don't shower as often as a normal person should. On average every 5 or 6 days, and then as quickly as possible. I hope this saves water.
  • I drink tap water, not bottled.
  • we have window AC units we put in maybe 5 or 6 nights a summer when it's either that or sleep in your own juices. Otherwise, just fans.
  • I turn lights off whenever I can, and try to be conscientious about electricity use.
  • I agonize at the grocery store over my food purchases, trying to weigh cost against local food against free-range against organic. It's a horror show. ugh. I always leave feeling like a failure. I want to live in the Stone Age again? Well, if we could still have medicines and civil society, yes. I'd be happy to find my own food through foraging and hunting, and I could make do without running water or electric amenities. I often dream heartachingly about picking up and moving to a remote plot of land somewhere on the east coast just so I didn't feel so conflicted and co-opted.

So I guess my bottom line is, I feel I'm doing my almost-best in what is an interminable uphill battle. I want to do the right thing. I want to build a better, more sustainable, more beautiful, more natural world for my children and my descendants, but I'm not getting it right very much. I know that. It sucks. It makes me sad. But my children give me the motivation to keep on keepin' on, so I do, even though I'm aware that just by living in North America I'm part of the problem. There are so many forces working against me that I bend and break under them all the time.


  1. Name should say Super Green, I'm a Luddite, old and I don't understand my blogger account...

    We're not that different on what we do (to a point-see-below). But still unanswered, although I don't think it was your intention. It's still about the big picture lifestyle of we 21st C city dwellers who say we're eco-people just because we do some things like you listed.

    We are not. These issues detract from your belief of 'eco-living':
    - Healthcare
    - Welfare
    - Education
    - Pensions
    - State funded employment
    - Co-opted Gov. Programs
    - Infrastructure
    - Food systems (you partly addressed)
    - Transport
    - Fiat Currency

    These are the mantra of your political affiliations, yes? (NDP -read briskly). The only reason this is glaring us in the face is because you clearly admire one party over another. If anything, your incumbent (Conservatives?) spend more on these social benefits than any other gov. in your history. Again, not eco-friendly. Is it the oil you hate? Or what the oil delivers to you? Is there a difference?

    This is the rather significant discrepancy that 'attracted' me to your blog in the 1st place. The hypocrisy is beyond our dilemma of our general consumption of your list of eco-behavioural changes.

    I'm saying the problem is not going to change one bit if we encourage expanded socialism (list above).

    With these benefits expanded by the gov. it’s an eco-attack. Without this demand to support our socialised modern living defended by your voting choices, there’d be no need for the oil etc. you seem to ignore flippantly as irrelevant or not even necessary to sustain our system.

    So, our hypocrisy/guilt/ignoring of the elephants in the room (my list of the benefits you likely defend) is a grand deception.

    The question is, how do we reduce our consumption of these? Certainly voting for protecting their delivery to the population is not the way.

    Should we not be voting to remove these? Doing this, we remove the demand for the oil and other energy that creates the environmental impact you say you are against. It’s like Holywood stars & governments driving Prius cars while flying around the world to eco-conferences and summits having incomes over the more eco-friendly 20grand or so for a family sharing a house with a couple of others.

    Should we not be sacrificing to this level if we really cared? Should we not even be having children knowing well in advance of the damage we are going to do as we provide them with these services?

    When I was referring to hypocrisy, your list was not even in my thoughts. Perhaps it's a start however. I commend you for that.

    But it looks as if we should be removing modern safety nets, government benefits (and the rest of my list) if we are going to actually have any real impact. In addition, we ought to make real sacrifices, intensifying our family living instead of an entire house to ourselves living like “eco-pigs” compared to most of the world.

    Are you going to vote for a party (which I don't know in Canada) that would remove these for the sake of the environment? That to me seems much more authentic, original and today, a much more individualistic than what we say we believe in. Am I really that radical not having children, living in a small shared flat, reducing my calorie count of largely locally grown food buying used clothing and technology? I've even refused to use hospital resources to refrain from endorsing the military industrial academic financial complex that burdens our environment. We say we believe in community... and then live like kings. At the same time, we label the politicians that sustain this, as demons. Surely we are the biggest liars that walked the earth. If there is a god, it will likely condemn us to hell for living this self deception?


  2. How can problems be solved when the governments (& their agents) and corporations are the same machine?

    If we want to be more ecologically minded, we must learn ideas. Whilst having unbelievable concepts (ridiculous wacky ones to me), there are truths to learn.!

  3. wow so... hi! looks like I need to spend some time addressing all this. Been caught up in much creative output and what gamers call "RL." BUT I will endeavour to address some of this in the next 2-3 days. "wacky," huh? me?

  4. oh man. the THRIVE thing. you're not the first to bring it up. I haven't seen that particular vid, but I do think those two guys totally miss the idea that a planet with "infinite" resources defies the laws of physics. We may not run out of oil in *this* generation or even the next, but say 100 years from now that's what happens, who will be to blame? where will our descendants be left?

  5. Yes, the Thrive vid is profound really. I think the point about infinite resources was a matter of diversification in due course with much more efficiency during that progression. It's a side issue anyway. I've heard many use that to discredit any sort of common way of thinking.

    At the end of it all, I find the points I've read about our social democracy standards in your comments sections intriguing.

    What do you think? I'm kind of stuck.

  6. I think I'm finding it difficult to comment on the value of alien technology to human society. IF it has any validity at all, I can't see it coming to the fore within our lifetimes. It seems like a deus-ex-machina silver-bullet-type solution. I will feel more strongly when there is more evidence, I guess.

  7. Well, it certainly isn't god/silver who's gonna come down and save the day. I don't even care about the wide sweeping fixes when they sound so far fetched myself.

    THoughts on the other more interesting points much more useful for everyday life.

    That first repsonse is rather a profound insight. That's a toughy. Thoughts?