(I warn you, this post is not that fun to read, but I’m needing to work out some stuff that might have a bearing on your thinking.)

Although it’s an extreme position, I think David Attenborough (of the Life of Birds fame) may be onto something here, as reported by the Independent and the Times:

Sir David Attenborough has called for a “moral” crusade against wasting energy.

Sir David, 80, the presenter of the Planet Earth television series, told a Commons committee the wartime slogan “Waste Not, Want Not” should be used to persuade homeowners to switch off electrical appliances instead of leaving them on standby. … [more]

Sir David Attenborough, the elder statesman of the natural world, called yesterday for a return to wartime values to save the planet from global warming.

He hit out at 4x4s, electrical standby facilities and lights that are left on unnecessarily as he demanded a change in moral and intellectual attitudes towards climate change.

He said that even tiny amounts of wasted electricity were immoral because they put “our grandchildren’s lives in danger”. …

I was just musing on a variation of the same theme yesterday, that in order for us (i.e. the global us) to have a fighting chance at making a significant corrective to the earth’s atmosphere, we ALL need to consume less, especially those things we take for granted, such as electricity and food. These basics seem so inexpensive and abundantly available (at least in industrialized nations), but I’m starting to think that is there is a significant cost to everything, even if I can’t see it. The other thing I wonder is what (or who) is paying for the cost? At what (or whose) expense do we enjoy the basics of life? And I’m not talking only about economics here!

But really, how likely are complacent people motivated to proactively consider anything differently when there is no immediately noticeable negative consequence in continuing on with staus quo?

I was thinking, the only situation in which people will more consciously steward their resources is when they themselves live in a time of crisis, such as natural disaster, famine or war. We haven’t quite arrived at that stage (yet), but here is Sir David, advising us to hearken back to a literally conservative way of living for the sake of the future.

Also, I have been thinking about the next generation, other people’s children, whether to have children or not, etc. I’m thinking there are actually two very good reasons (among many) to proactively change our lifestyles: 1) to maximize the possibility that there is something there for the future generations to live on and 2) to teach the next generation (via modelling) how to live sustainably for themselves. The first is a more obvious reason (and an easy one to become lax and lazy about). The second is much more difficult because it requires our entire being, it’s an investment of our entire lives. I’m thinking if I’m not prepared to teach my kids to become all-around good stewards (as a future investment), then it’s a better use of my life not to have any children, and go plant trees instead.

Part of the reason why it’s so hard for our generation to change is because most of our parents didn’t know any better. I really believe that. So why would we know any different (that’s why you should go watch An Inconvenient Truth!)? But because our generation is now facing the consequences (both scientifically proven and physically experienced) from the previous generations, we doesn’t really have the excuse of ignorance not to do something different. For us in this age, it’s a matter of will and ethical responsibility. It’s unfair, that we are the ones to be inconvenienced, that we have start to paying for and dealing with the sins of our forefathers, but hey, repentence and redemption has got to happen somewhere along the line.

But just in case you think I’m going off my rocker, I’m NOT saying that we can’t enjoy good things and be indulged from time to time. I am wondering, though, what I can do to enjoy the same good things more responsibly. Maybe I would come to enjoy them more.