Thursday, 12 July 2007

Back to the future

Strange man, Al Gore. One minute he’s telling us to save the planet by changing our light bulbs. The next he’s asking us to take an ‘easy’ seven-part Live Earth pledge that would in fact be extremely difficult to carry out. Last weekend Al told a billion of us that Part One is to lobby all our governments to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 90% - or the grandchildren die (kind of thing). Ok, so let’s tease that out a minute. That essentially means - and leaders are still unwilling to spell this out - that we must learn to live on 10% of current fossil fuel. In our lifetimes. The rest will be current sunlight in the form of plant food to fuel humans, horses and oxen - and renewable fuels. Trying to keep the show on the road with large-scale biofuels, nuclear or new coal plants could literally cost the earth.

So what’s the answer? Living lightly, it seems. Consuming less, working and eating locally, and getting used to living on much smaller amounts of energy. It’s not very sexy but living within our means - one planet living - is how most of the world actually lives. We’d do well to learn from older, simpler cultures, or from our grandparents. Putting it another way, we need to go back, with more wisdom, into the future.

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