What 5 Things can You Do to Change the System?

A few weeks ago a reader on this blog asked me an interesting question that I have been mulling over for some while: can I list 5 things everyone needs to do to change the system?

It’s a tall order, but I decided to give it a bash. I don’t plan to prescribe anything here, and no one should take my word for it as I’m no paragon of purism. But I have at least dabbled in all that I will suggest, and would like to invite dialogue around those suggestions, and others.

One glaring problem stares me down: how can we change the system when we don’t have the power? Political pressure and consumer action have little impact if they are not attached to a grotesquely proportioned bank account – the Golden Rule (facetiously: he who has the gold makes the rules) has seen to it that we lack the clout of the corporatocracy. So what are we to do with the diminished Power of One that we each possess? Continue reading “What 5 Things can You Do to Change the System?”

Da Bucket List

We are all dying, one moment at a time, from the minute we are born. Yet this is not how we tend to view life. In western society we count the years as they go by, adding one each year to the tally that makes up our age. We treat death as a technical problem to be solved, rather than a part of the cycle of life. I have heard, however, that there are cultures that look not at the number of years we’ve racked up so much as those we expect to have left. This presents a starkly different attitude toward approaching one’s remaining years, in terms of how much time remains to do all that we feel we must do in our limited lifetimes.

countdown_by_yuumei-d3lllcpVery few of us are blessed with the knowledge of exactly how much time we have left. I say blessed, because I have found that time limits tend to force us to focus, to be realistic about what we can achieve, and to just get on with it. I am a horrible procrastinator, and I have a sneaking suspicion procrastination is just one of those things most of us fall victim to at some point, and in some way. Dare I say I expect it may be one of those things that can simply be attributed to “human nature”? But when we have time limits we tend to prioritise better, and those things that really are important come to the fore, and our attention is sharpened. Continue reading “Da Bucket List”

Degrowth Downunder: A Movement Gathering Momentum

Australia’s two-speed economy, in which those engaged in mineral extraction flourish while the rest flounder, seems to have only one direction: up. Not that people really stop to think why. Most Australians, if you asked them, would stare blankly if you mentioned degrowth, or crack a joke about how it’s tantamount to devolution. It seems the citizens of this sunburnt country are, as of yet, unmoved by the degrowth movement.

But a peek beneath the surface of our consumer culture reveals a wealth of of academics, writers, activists and community leaders advocating degrowth, and whose offerings to the movement include progressive opinion leadership, think tanks, grassroots groups, a political party, and even an independent magazine.

The movement is in its infancy, however, and like a toddler taking its first steps, it needs support, guidance and coordination, and forming alliances will prove vital. The message of Continue reading “Degrowth Downunder: A Movement Gathering Momentum”

Call to Action: Reclaim the Climate Movement

I’m sure you’ve heard that everyone – or, at least, everyone who cares – will be marching for the climate this weekend. If you’re not marching, then you’re not doing anything at all, or so we’re told.

False dichotomies aside though, I won’t be marching this weekend. I’ll be taking action instead. I agree with Chris Hedges: the march is nothing more than street theatre. It won’t lead to any policy changes; it won’t wave a magic wand over corporate ecocide; and it sure as hell won’t get middle-class white folk to give up their privilege and downshift. It will be a colourful (well, mainly blue t-shirts) climate-themed street parade, complete with back-slapping and high-fiving over how amazing the climate movement is for managing to get so many people outside on a weekend for a stroll around a city. Continue reading “Call to Action: Reclaim the Climate Movement”

‘Climatarians’ cooking for a low-carbon diet

Last week thousands of Australians took up the challenge to go without meat for a week. Reasons ranged from health or animal welfare to environmental concerns – particularly climate change.

Not everyone found the challenge easy, said Meat Free Week co-founder Melissa Hobbs, but the debate has been thrown wide open.

“Some said they found it really hard, some didn’t make it through the week, but most of the feedback was really positive,” said Hobbs, who aims to reach people who may have “never considered the impact their food choices are having.” Continue reading “‘Climatarians’ cooking for a low-carbon diet”