Green choices and consumption

Going green isn’t just about the choices you make in purchasing – it’s about the level of consumption; even in relation to earth friendly products. Reducing consumption in all aspects of life will play a key role in averting  a case of humanity acting like the proverbial lemmings.

Here’s a few examples.

“Low fat icecream? Yum! and since it’s low fat I can have twice as much!”

“Run my car on LPG? Great, that means I can travel further and it will only cost me the same!”

“Need more power? That’s fine, we’ll just build another zillion wind farms!”

This is a common mentality for most of us (the low fat ice-cream for me especially!). An essential part of living a more earth friendly life is about *less* consumption. Even the wonderful wind turbines have to be manufactured and that type of manufacturing is not earth friendly.

A few years ago, I would have been sitting in an office powered by several 100 watt globes, looking at a 17″ CRT screen while typing this out. Aside from the screen, the computer would have been drawing at least 100 watts too. So that’s a total of 300 watts of energy consumption an hour. My electricity would also most likely have been derived from the burning of coal.

Nowadays, my office is lit by a 10 watt compact flourescent globe and I run a laptop with a smaller screen that draws at best 90 watts per hour. Over a day, I save about 2 *kilowatts* of power and what electricity I do use is sourced by renewable means or offset.

.. and I suffer no real discomfort as a result.

Having less of an impact on the environment doesn’t mean we must live like cavemen or forego all of modern life’s luxuries, but just to treat them as such – luxuries; something to be cherished and used sparingly. It certainly boosts appreciation of these things and helps us to want for less.

But, in terms of energy consumption overall, with all these new fangled low voltage requirement gadgets  coming out these days, energy star ratings to guide us and far more efficient engines etc, surely we must be using less energy per person?

No chance. In the “Australia State of the Environment 2006” report released by the Department of the Environment and Heritage today; these ghastly figures were revealed:

That’s quite a jump from 2002/3 to 2003/4 and I assume that it hasn’t tapered off since 2004. We are still a country of lemmings in a world of lemmings – and the edge of that cliff is looming closer. What’s even more disappointing is that we are a people who should know better.

The report points out: “This is a result of Australia’s increasing population as well as more industries and more people using more energy, despite a small offset as a result of improved energy efficiency. Growth in use of renewable energy sources is slow, amounting to less than 6 per cent of energy used in Australia”

Governments are concerned that making huge changes in the way we go about our lives in order to preserve our environment will have a negative impact on our economies. Well, I think we’re caught between a rock and a hard place now; it’s too late for any soft option and that’s entirely our own fault – we’ve been too slow to act.

We have a distinct and urgent choice to make; the somewhat painful sacrifices now or face an even more excruciating pain the day when our ecosystems finally say no more.

.. and that day may be in the next decade
.. next year
.. next week
.. perhaps tomorrow?