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Retire early… to save the planet?

Retire early… to save the planet?

If it’s not this, it must be the opposite.

How often do you witness this sort of thinking? When I pay attention I find it’s everywhere, framing nearly every argument. Author Daniel Quinn calls it two-handedness: imagining there are only two options, usually framed as opposites. Democrat or Republican. City or country. When it comes to addressing our environmental challenges, the dichotomy is between individual consumer choices or collective action.

Dog and cat warm up together by the wood stove

Are you a cat or a dog person? That question is SO two-handed. I prefer the pile-o-pet that forms in front of my wood stove. They slept there peacefully for a long time until the cat did that claw-kneading thing to the dog. Then the peace was broken.

Before you misunderstand me, let me state clearly that I am not against collective action. I’m all for it. The assumption that it must be one or the other is a major flaw in two-handed thinking. Good answers to our problems should contain both, or rather, neither.

Recent opinion (George Monbiot gives an example) champions collective action, and rejects individual consumer choices, not without good reason. “Buying green” is fantastic marketing, but an ecological wash. Although it arguably makes your laundry smell better, choosing Seventh Generation over Tide does not help the earth much. Even choosing a Tesla over a Corolla may not make a big difference.

But I think Monbiot and the rest of us are also wrong about individual consumption. There is a consumer choice that can change your personal impact for the better. That choice is not to consume.

Not consume? But a person has to eat! Okay, that’s true. I’m not suggesting you go on an air diet. Stick with me for a minute.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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