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November, 2008



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Systems Shifts: How to Really Reduce Greenhouse Gases, Lose Weight and Save Money.
By Stephen Simac

Since this series was exclusive to the now out of print Coastal Post, it's time to wrap it up. If you've been paying attention then we've offered simple, guaranteed ways to save the planet while slimming down waists and fattening wallets. All the info we need to really reduce our carbon buttprints by 90% is available, but unless we get off our asses and start acting now, the world is toast according to most climate change scientists.
However doom and despair never motivated anyone to change, simply depressed them. That's why linking seriously reducing Greenhouse Gases (GG) with the most popular self interests, (with the implication that losing weight means better sex), is a PR monster. Throw in making our country and the planet a safer, cleaner, healthier place for the children and where do you sign up. Making a public pledge to follow the simple steps outlined in this series is surprisingly effective at shifting behaviors.

Naturally there's resistance to changing the many interlocking, habitual, social behaviors destroying our environment, the American Way of Life (AWOL). We're attached to AWOL by the systems we've set up to support our addictions. We're going to miss AWOL when it's gone whether we loved it or not, just like the print version of the CP. But it's for a good cause, to seriously reduce our GG output. And getting the anti-semantic enforcement agency off our backs.

The most obstinate obstacle will be our government of people dependant on industries that have spent a century building the physical, legal and bureaucratic infrastructure for AWOL. The political system is oriented to defend the barons of the last century. Cultural and Social trends can shift rapidly in this hyper powered age. Printed Coastal Post papers disappear before the ink stains from the last month have faded.

It will soon become clear that the trillions needed to repair the nation's infrastructure of roads, bridges, water systems, sewers, electrical grids, hospitals, schools, prisons, air and seaports will not be there. And that's a good thing, because we would just be locking our already overburdened children into paying for more mistakes of an unsustainable 20th century. We need to ponder solutions for the 21st century that might last a millennia.

This economic meltdown has been blamed on the subprime mortgage mess, but it was merely the straw houses that broke the mortgage banks. It's actually a house of cards come tumbling down like a long running pyramid scheme that enriched the few by squeezing the many. It was based on commoditizing every possible human need and desire as part of the Gross National Product. Every dollar printed to pay for what we used to do ourselves allowed the financiers to take a solid cut plus interest. Their Ponzi scheme was based on endless growth on a finite planet and was doomed to fail when the fat lady sang, Then the rats would flee to countries without extradition treaties to hoard their billions.

AWOL was billed as the ultimate in comfortable, labor saving lifestyles. Somehow we've ended up with more than half our adults suffering with chronic illness or pain while the rest are merely miserably stressed out. Unfortunately that turns out to be good for the economy, up to a point, which we've apparently passed.

That may be our only hope for getting out of this mess. Every crisis means an opportunity to evolve. Probably the only way Americans are going to choose a significantly leaner carbon lifestyle is if we have to. Saving money as a necessity by conserving energy is more compelling than dogooderism at herding us into more sustainable practices.

We saw that with the gas price. Very few drivers adopted the easiest way to save 15% on fuel by slowing down to the speed limit, yet Americans still reduced gas sales by 6% from the year before after the price went over $4 a gallon. Oil quickly dropped in price by half, after speculators drove it up betting on War with Iran. It may have just softened us up to accept $3 a gallon as affordable. The urgency to conserve fuel competes with Drill Baby Drill, but the floundering economy will favor instant results, curtailment.

We are easily manipulated to accept platitudes about change rather than working for transformative system shifts, yet the constraints of the real world will breach the entrenched positions of the 20th century. Let's go over the systemic solutions identified in this series again. America's bloated military is the single largest consumer of oil on the planet. We can carve huge chunks out of our carbon buttprint, save the planet, lose weight and save enormous amounts of money by reducing military spending by 20%. If half that is invested directly for green jobs in alternative transportation, retrofitting homes and buildings for serious conservation, renewable energy, organic agriculture, community Victory Gardens and live entertainment, public health programs and freedom of choice in health care we could create an America that actually provides Domestic Tranquility and Freedom for All.

It's odd that both "major" presidential candidates claim they want to sort of reduce GG, but neither plans to cut defense spending. Peace Dividends are possible, but only a financial meltdown will force American politicians to rein in the military industrial complex that owns them. Even then it may take a complete collapse for Americans to surrender superpower status. Americans are even more likely to need our obesity inducing cars pried out of our cold, dead hands than our guns. Luckily for the planet our economy was holed by the financial shysters whose bailout will prove as futile as bucket brigades on the Titanic.

Now we need to focus on the basics like keeping our families healthy instead of the "economy", growing food not fuel, community cooperation not gated "communities", making water and soil as precious as gold instead of using it to hose down dirt, cooperate with nature instead of trying to vanquish it, tinkering with ways of thriving in a sustainable way and sharing solutions that help to achieve this. Right now there's no shortage of rhetoric spouted about "sustainability" while most government policies, business practices and social habits waste resources and monies as if we wanted to hand our children a planet that was stripped to bare rock.

It will take stubborn and resolute people connecting like mycelium with others wedded to a better way. Their examples will scent a social trail like ants follow to a honey jar. When they tell us we can't, we will prove that we can and help others do it too. Maybe only our children will see the promised land and like Moses we'll end up parched on a desert cliff. Our vision of a Better World, a Goodwill Planet that's guaranteed when Americans embrace a Safer, Healthier, More Affordable Lifestyle that Really Reduces Greenhouse Gases, Toxic Waste and makes for a Slimmer, Sexier You can lead the feuding tribes through the wilderness into the next century and beyond.

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