nature | mindwi.se edit

A park, Koyaanisqatsi, Water usage, Human stupidity, Demography paradox, Ecological footprint, Critic of HOME by Yann Arthus-Bertrand, Risk, vulnerability and prevention, Duality

A park

Smell the weeds, enjoy the near silence, have the sun to warm you up a bit, meet new people, look at kids running around, try to understand what time really is by slowing down for a moment, kick a ball for a couple minutes, run around the field, analyzed the movement of leaves along with the wind, try to seize the madness of our modern existence and get out of it for good. Who knew so much can be done when you take time to rest in a park?


Koyaanisqatsi

A documentary about life out of balance? From the eighties? Koyaanisqatsi (watch on Vimeo) is an extensive footage of natural landscapes and human creations. Some will see it as a drab collection of images with lack of interest, but I hope that every single one of us can see beyond images, to see the correlation of our actions and the world changing. It is about our loss connection with our basic needs and nature. We are now facing nature deprivation because of living in cities, with technologies everywhere and with no meaning of our actions in everything we do.


Water usage

For about a year, I monitored our usage since the place we were renting at that time had a water service that meter the volume by type (heating, hot and cold). In the first two months, we used 4950 liters of hot water and 9740 of cold water. That's 240 liters per day, or 120 per individual. This number was a shock to me. Up to when I discovered the average usage for the country: 251 liters per day per person.

I then tried to lower our usage.

I also noted the water usage by each device in our condo:

All those represent 117 liters/day, leaving another 100 for other usage: dish and sink rince, actual drunk water.

I remember 15 years ago, I wrote a final text in high school about water: from the pollution of reserves to the hyper-commercialization of water bottles, including its excessive use. All this time has passed and I realize that nothing has really changed. As we talk about removing plastic straws to save the planet , it is realistic to wonder if, collectively, we really want to change.

On a daily basis, without even trying to dramatize the situation, I come up against a lot of wasted resources, including water. Recently, for example, the building complex where I live carried out a complete cleaning of the underground parking lot as well as the outdoor common space. However, I never imagined that so much water would be used to clean asphalt, uni-stone and concrete walls. Four days of washing using multiple (up to three at the same time) high pressure machines. Knowing that a single machine uses 8 liters of water per minute, multiplied by 400 minutes per day and 4 days, this gives 13,000 liters of water used by only one of these machines. With 3 machines during the same period, this represents more than a year of my personal water consumption of all kinds. How can we still tolerate this today?

Alternatively, due to the nature of the work outside of employees, my employer buys countless numbers of single-use water bottles to freshen up each of us. We are talking about about 80 employees who work outside and in hot weather, that represents hundreds of bottles daily. Despite my persistence in converting these purchases by empowering employees to use their own reusable bottles, nothing has changed. How can we still tolerate this today?

Although this is just a trivial example of behavior that seems negative to me, it inspires me to understand that too often we all know the principles of life (to respect what surrounds us for example), but few will apply them.


Human stupidity

Global warming is the perfect example of human stupidity. The impacts of unbridled consumption of human resources in a country like the United States or Canada spread across borders to reach the inhabitants of the poorest countries such as India and the Congo. Prices are inflating due to the scarcity of resources, but there are also repercussions on the climate, by greenhouse gases or even land pollution by the multiple landfills of the world's computer waste.

Thus, the subject of climate change is global. No one with a right to a minimum of information escapes it. The impacts are real, calculable and proven.

Now, there are skeptics, narrow-minded, indecisive, idiots, selfish, rednecks, profiteers, opportunists and many more who do not want to believe it and prevent the other part of human civilization from evolving and surviving.

How can we still doubt climate change and the danger that threatens our environment so essential to life?

Should we just be carefree or just disinterested in change?

The environmentalist movement, in all its forms, with all its collaborators, write a multitude of reports and awareness-raising texts, but nothing major is being done for the world to evolve and secure its future.

Are we not really capable of changing our habits?

Is living without a car the end of the world?

Is developing eco-districts so far-fetched?

And even if it was all lie, it sets the tone for an impossible global collaboration on a matter of importance. We are now realizing that the Earth is inhabited by people who cannot work together to achieve their safeguard. And it is very sad.


Demography paradox

Many environmentalists from a Deep Ecology perspective, for example, have come to the same conclusion a long time ago: the increase in the total population on Earth affects its ability to regenerate its resources.

Growing demographics are consuming too many of the global resources for what Earth can support, with the evidence to back it up. These people are therefore asking for a stop to growth, and therefore ultimately birth control policies. Far from being realized, however, there is a demographic paradox raised by Julia Whitty:

It does seem like it is through prosperity (and education) that we slow down population growth, but the fastest way to consume our resources ... is a more prosperous way of life.

Simply put, this refers to two scenarios:

This logic, I share it. The explanation is simple. Take the price of the item of your choice, it doesn't matter which one. If this increases, you will not be inclined to get it, but if it stagnates or decreases, the chances of it ending up in your hands increase. Why? Because we are always carried by this invisible hand (of Adam Smith) in our choices.

If it becomes difficult and / or expensive to have a child, then the couples who raise them will become less frequent. This means that demography is directly linked to the economy, and therefore to the environment. If one of these goes well, the others will follow. If one is bad, the others will follow.


Ecological footprint

With so many readings on degrowth and on the possibilities of a sustainable rhythm of life for the environment, I wondered if it would not be useful to write a clear and precise list in order to reduce the ecological footprint of our life. Inspired by dozens of books, here are categories of solutions that are sometimes simple, sometimes a little less so, in order to get closer to a life that is not excessive from an environmental point of view.

Housing

Probably the biggest category of financial expense, this is also where people get carried away the most and live above their average ... and environmental means!

Food

Even if the majority of people think that fruits are always synonymous with nature, it is less true when they come from the other side of the planet, that they are grown in an artificial place (greenhouses which require a lot of energy and water) or whose season is not at all suitable for cultivation.

Transportation

Even though the trend is towards electrification of transportation, less transportation is better than more electric transportation. Indeed, despite the belief that the conversion to electric will save us from the ecological disaster of fossil fuels, the fact remains that powering a car with electricity requires a lot of resources.

Lifestyle

Instead of fostering a lifestyle posted on Instagram or Facebook, develop your own ideal of life.


Critic of HOME by Yann Arthus-Bertrand

Watch HOME documentary on Youtube.

Climate change as a big issue

In a world in constant change, in constant questioning, many cinematographic works try to make the populations of modern societies aware of changing their lifestyles and their way of thinking. Of all these documentaries targeting specific subjects, few stand out as a reference for the globality of the current situation, for climate change, but also for the position of man with regard to his environment, and this, d 'a relatively neutral way. Directed by Yann Arthus-Bertrand, Home is a documentary film published in 2009 which has the merit of being accessible to the greatest number of citizens, it is distributed free of charge in six languages ​​and its author encourages sharing.

Thus, the documentary does not target a specific problem such as dependence on oil, genetically modified foods or poor water management. Home is intended to be a look at the impact of human activity on the planet, drawing direct links with industrial developments of the past two centuries. The work to be done in order to avoid the worst seems to me so vast that to present the situation as a whole allows us to better understand where we are and what remains to be done so that future generations can fully develop, in respect for those who will follow them in turn.

A documentary focused on raising awareness of everyone

Climate change is widely discussed all over the world, through multiple international agreements, but few measures have the magnitude to really turn the tide and make ever-growing human activity sustainable.

Yann Arthus-Bertrand, also a photographer, has a good sense of image. Home proves it by using almost exclusively images seen from the sky. This allows us to fully understand the magnitude of environmental issues. Assuming that man has moved from nomadism to sedentarism, this phenomenon has allowed him to develop new ideas, such as agriculture, which has led to industrialization. It is only in the last hundred years that the use of natural resources (renewable or not) has accelerated exponentially, by the increased consumption of each, but also by the increase in population. The first minutes of the documentary take us to remote places on the planet, places that obviously do not live with a level of comfort that we know in North America. There are these images of peasants in the middle of nowhere who maintain a herd of calves, without depending on others, without everything that seems the bare minimum to us who are used to so much through overconsumption. It communicates something very clear to me: We haven't always been confined to a consumer lifestyle. There has been a pre-binge drinking and there is no reason to continue in what appears to be the misuse of our planet. Home therefore displays some examples of what we are capable of as overuse.

Links with the course Environmental policies

Within the course, there is a great deal of discussion of public policies in order to address environmental issues, whether in the transport, water or other sectors. Home seems to touch everything without actually talking about it, the images are enough to make us realize how it is necessary to decide and rigorously apply public policies in order to counter the problematic sides of free market and individualism.

In particular, the question of the population is indirectly involved. The documentary mentions that since 1950, the population has tripled. We were 2.5 billion human beings on earth at that time; in 2009, when the film was launched, that figure was 6.8 billion. Now, five years later, the population has grown to 7.25 billion people. The increase is consistent with our development modes and simply explains that the Earth cannot support all this increase together with a high rate of consumption. It must be said that forecasts until 2100 number nearly 11 billion people. Until then, many environmental measures and many socio-economic changes will have to take place to make human presence on the planet sustainable. Just think of the next 10 years when the mere increase in China's middle class will put enormous pressure on demands for oil, food and other resources. There were 1 vehicle for every 6 people in 2013 in China, for a total of around 240 million vehicles. If China obtains a level of wealth from its middle class similar to that of the United States, that would represent the addition of 700 million vehicles, or 1 vehicle for 1.3 people. How will oil-producing regions meet such growing demand when known and exploitable reserves are only estimated at 50 years (at current consumption levels)? High-growth regions such as China and India will sooner or later find that fossil resources will be scarce to achieve a standard of living comparable to that of developed countries. This will likely lead to geopolitical and social conflicts.

More generally, in module 9 of the course, it is particularly about Robert Poujade, the first holder of the French Ministry of the Environment. Some of the quotes I pick up seem to correspond to what Home is trying to say indirectly. “The great difficulty with an environmental policy is not its cost, it is the rupture it implies with habits of thinking, of administration, and I know it in the end, of production. Although it is true that in the documentary there is never a question of politics, nor of States and their (in) actions, this statement by Poujade displays in words what Home has done in images, that is to say our global culture. for progress at the expense of the environment.

He will also say that “[he has] too often resented the strength of private interests and the weakness of the state with bitterness. [He] too often feels that he is struggling almost alone [...] "The socio-economic context we know fosters growth and development first, rather than environmental accountability. The state still benefits from the advancement of private companies, by collecting taxes and levies that allow it to develop its public sector. It therefore seems difficult to me for a State to voluntarily cut itself off from sources of income. To do that, you need social pressure. The state is therefore making changes to its policies in order to respect these demands and maintain a neutral image.

What the documentary does and does not offer

The documentary ends with an ultimatum: 10 years to act and change the course of history. However, released in 2009, five years have passed and few major changes have taken place. Modern societies cannot change their mentality in such a short time and give up so much comfort offered to them by a world focused on consumption and the constant improvement of its own condition.

Failing to offer real solutions, the work of Yann Arthus-Bertrand launches a few quotes that can raise awareness of all of us. “Deforestation destroys the essential to produce the superfluous. Although real, this quote does not need statistics to back it up, the images are unequivocal, especially of tropical forests being destroyed in order to make industrial palm oil production an important ingredient to good. of foods consumed around the world.

“Our development method has not honored its promises. In 50 years, the wealth gap has widened like never before. Half of the world's wealth is owned by the richest 2%. There is reference here to the distribution of wealth that prevents improvement in our environmental record, and this can be a starting point for individual reflection, on what we really want as a society. The social models we hold for success are often based on monetary wealth, naturally leading to overconsumption. The example of Hollywood celebrities who own multiple homes, cars and other consumer goods shows not only the overconsumption of resources, but also the example to follow for the less rich, those who will try to increase their level. of life in order to resemble these models.

A solution to climate change

It's rather difficult to come up with just one environmental policy to fix everything the 90 minutes says. We must first ask ourselves about the original source of our current situation and maybe we could contribute some ideas. My personal thoughts have come to a consensus. What we are experiencing stems from a human psychological problem: to dominate.

We have constantly wanted to improve ourselves at the expense of nature, which we consider to be without rights, without limits and without reason. It would be dishonest not to see the advantages that technologies bring, that is to say comfort and instantaneity, but it is also necessary that our activities are viable, just as a private company must envisage in the long term in order to be profitable and that its activities can continue. . Computerization, although rather harmful for the environment, can bring information quickly to thousands of people, but awareness is not as instantaneous as one would like to believe. This has led to the inaction of populations, governments and businesses for 40 years, since the Meadows report. For far too long, multiple reports have alerted us to the dangers of the frantic consumption of our resources, sometimes non-renewable, but very few actions have been taken to ensure human sustainability.

Everyone's desire to succeed and surpass themselves invisibly affects our environment. Our actions are often disproportionate, but on a small scale and in the short term, the impact is not great. It is in the long term and on a global scale that the situation is inconceivable. I take one thing from this: in our current system, no one can get rich without impoverishing others.

Finally, the documentary offers multiple specific cases related to the environment that can be the subject of additional research in order to open our eyes to what is happening elsewhere: Dubai, the Almeria desert, fossil waters, the Jordan, Borneo, Easter Island, the concept of climate refugees, the Treaty of Antarctica, etc. This is Home's strength, getting a message across without being just plain entertainment.


Risk, vulnerability and prevention

When we speak of the environment, risk is perceived by sociologists as a consequence and manifestation of a state of vulnerability and insecurity of individuals and societies. It occupies an important place in the theory of sustainable development: there is a threat - risk - to maintaining current models of development for the stability of ecosystems and social and intergenerational equity on a planetary scale.

Risk directly feeds two structuring concepts in international environmental law which are central to the theory of sustainable development: precaution and prevention. Although they may seem similar, these two concepts have very different meanings and implications.

Precaution

Involves deprivation, application of protective measures before full scientific evidence demonstrating the existence of a risk. Allows to prevent risks still unknown by 3 legal conditions: scientific uncertainty, seriousness of the damage incurred, irreversibility of the damage.

This should be done when there are sufficient reasons to believe that an activity or decision is likely to cause serious and irreversible damage on a large scale. Primum non nocere (do no harm first). The precautionary principle has two main fields of application: health and the environment. But the precaution also applies to the principle itself: a biased, ill-conceived or excessively strict interpretation can have the disadvantage of freezing the innovation process and also of consolidating the rent positions of certain actors.

Prevention

Involves action, the implementation of rules and standards intended to anticipate any form of major damage to the environment. Avoids or reduces the damage associated with proven risks by evaluating the cost-benefit balance.

Otherwise

We cannot continue as if the environment is an immutable reality. Humans, since they migrated to the different continents, change by their action the balances of the different ecosystems and they modify them. This relationship is dynamic. Some species are disappearing. We are reaching a point where we have to rethink our technological, industrial and consumer impacts on ecosystems. When our societies propose energy transitions, they internalize the constraints. But we must also rethink the economic logic as it currently stands. Too many indicators show that we are already beyond Earth's capacity. The principle of doing no harm first seems to me too often ignored. Respect what surrounds us and we will achieve a sustainable human life.


Duality

As I walk into the woods, I have no commitment, no expectation, no thought. I just am.

As I scroll on screens, I have anxiety, remorse, pain. I just feel wrong.

Leaves are falling, water is running the creek, noise is minimal, wind is passing by, rocks are still.

Digital world is calling, newsfeeds are ruinning your time, noise is everywhere, hate is passing by, pain is real.

Turn of screens, go in nature and see what's there to learn about you, not others.