Learn to make do with less in order to conserve resources.

Advocates

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Jimmy Carter

"Wear a Sweater."

Jimmy Carter's Fireside Chat. source: treehugger

At the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum. source: howstuffworks

"The thing that impresses me most strongly is that the conservation of energy, the saving of energy, the stopping of the waste of energy need not be an unpleasant thing; it need not be a sacrifice; it need not be something that disrupts America.  It can be an exciting, positive, and pleasant thing." Interview with Dick Leone of WNET-TV. October 25, 1979. from Jimmy Carter

Heather Rogers

"What Freiburg is useful for---and this is really basic---is just to say that to use 1/65 of the energy that we use in our buildings doesn't mean that we have to live in a building made of used tires and mud in the middle of nowhere with the bath water going through the indoor garden, with the electricity coming from batteries and solar panels or whatever. A lot of people are just like, 'Oh God. I'm not living in an Earthship.' And I don't want to live in an Earthship. So it's just to show that there are these places that are totally normal. They're not culturally alienating whatsoever.

"When I went into the apartment I rented [in Freiburg], it was cold. It was snowing; it was below freezing outside. It was like kind of chilly when I got there because nobody had been staying there. So I went to the radiator, and I just turned it up all the way. I was going out for the day to interview people, and I was like, “I want just to be warm when I get back.” I never do that kind of stuff, but I was like, “I don't care.” When I came home, it was cold. And I was like, “What?” So I turned it up a little bit, and then I turned it up all the way before I went to bed because I had been so miserable the night before. I woke up in the morning, and I felt really good. It was perfect, and I was like “Okay, this is wonderful, but you do need the heat.” So I went over and touched the radiator, and it was totally cold still. So then I was like, “Okay, it feels really comfortable, I'm just going to turn it off, and I'm not going turn it on for the rest of the time unless it gets really unbearable.” And I didn't turn it on the rest of the time, and the house was like 71, 72 the whole time because its designed to be that way. So it’s just like “Okay, you can do this. It's normal. It doesn't feel weird. It's not inconvenient.” I think that’s what you can take away. 

"You get the whole question of class and access to the resources and technology, and that's the issue because it's expensive to build a new building. Something like only 1% of all buildings each year are new or something like that. So the real question is weatherization or retrofitting…(Underdome Interview)
 

Commentary

Bjorn Lomborg

The myths of green living, according to Lomborg, mask the true difficulty of changing our energy use: “Moral posturing about global warming is easy, and it feels good. Actually doing something to solve the problem—like committing serious amounts of money to green energy research and development will take real effort and sacrifice.” Obama Gets Reasonable on the Environment

Lomborg rejects the notion that consumer-led efficiency measures save energy.   “Although a large part of the energy-efficiency increases takes place in industry and organizations, we also experience the effect as consumers. … While the car’s engine gets more efficient, we get a car with air-conditioning. … as our total energy consumption increases, and so do our carbon emissions.” Cool It, 25
 
Attempts at taxing carbon and thus reducing energy consumption are a significant burden for the consumer, Lomborg argues.  “It’s misleading not to recognize that the costs of cap-and-trade — financially and in terms of jobs, household consumption, and growth — will be significant. Some big businesses in privileged positions could make a fortune from exploiting this rather rigged market — but their gain is no reason to support the system.” Don't Freak Out
 
At the same time, Lomborg does not see evidence that we are “over-exploiting” our renewable resources or see any problems with “non-renewable resources, such as energy and raw materialsSkeptical Environmentlist, 147 and 159.  He believes that we should not underestimate human ingenuity in finding substitution solutions once a given resource diminishes. 
 

Amory Lovins

For Lovins, individuals shouldn't have to change their consumption patterns.  He writes, “if people want hot showers and cold beer, one starts with these end-use services, then asks how much energy, of what kind, at what scale, and from what source, would do each desired task in the cheapest way.” He advocates for an "End-Use/Least-Cost" approach that shifts from producing goods to providing services.  He gives the example of providing "cooling services" instead of selling air conditioners, where a company would be free to “find the cheapest way to keep its clients comfortable—an arrangement that is likely to produce more innovative and responsive solutions, and save money (and energy) for all parties.” End-Use/Least-Cost Approach

Cradle to Cradle

The environmental message that “consumers” take…can be strident and depressing: stop being so bad, so materialistic, so greedy." Cradle to Cradle, 6

 

McDonough and Braungart stress that a goal of purely reducing consumption misses the point.  McDonough and Braungart write: “The environmental message that “consumers” take…can be strident and depressing: stop being so bad, so materialistic, so greedy.  Do whatever you can, no matter how inconvenient, to limit your “consumption.” Buy less, spend less, drive less, have fewer children – or none... If you are going to help save the planet, you will have to make some sacrifices, share some resources, perhaps even go without.  And fairly soon you must face a world of limits. There is only so much the earth can take.  Sound like fun?  We have worked with both nature and commerce, and we don’t think so.” Cradle to Cradle, 6-7

 

 

References

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