"Tell me what I should do..."
Got this today as feedback from the website:
>>>Hi, yesterday i seen the film, i was moved by it. Im 18 years old so no one realy takes me seriosely so realized that ther is a serios problem with the mindset of the average person, simply they are scared of change when in a time like this they should embrace change. From what i understand to keep the Earth going ther needs to be somekind of masacre to fix the problem i hope im not the one to do it but i will do what it takes to save mother Earth, please tell me what i should do....<<<
I think a lot about what to say to kids/youth/young people about what's coming and how to prepare. I thought I'd post my response for even more feedback. Speak up! Here tis:
You're certainly asking the big questions. You're right about the need for the human population to decline, but a massacre isn't the answer - that's the worst of who we are as a species, and right now we need to be the best that we can be, because the world is going to change in big ways and we'll need to pull together and take care of each other in a way we've rarely done before (but have done sometimes).
As I say in the movie, what we need are leaders - and I mean by that people who are willing to learn about the whole big system, find local solutions, change their own lives as an example, and then help others change too. (I also include trouble-making in that - we have to do what we can to make governments and corporations part of the solution, instead of part of the problem - but changing your own life and finding local solutions is key.)
Last night we got a group of people together from the church I go to - we had a big potluck. These are people who have been very worried for a long time about the way things are going, environmentally and politically and other ways, and in many cases they've been doing amazing stuff for 20, 30, 40 years. But what they had in common was they didn't feel their individual efforts were enough. So now we've formed this group, so that what we all do TOGETHER will be powerful.
I think that's the main thing: forming your tribe. Nobody can really be sure how things are going to go, but we do know that things will change in unexpected ways. So - as you say - we have to be ready to embrace change (even see the fun in it!), be flexible, be ready. And the best way to do that is to be part of a tribe, because a group of people - collectively - knows all sorts of things that one person alone can't know: how to grow food, how to make stuff, how to write letters to corporations and politicians, how to make houses use less energy, etc. And they can also do things together that one person can't do alone, like hold a protest and carpool.
But to form a tribe you not only have to find people that know about this stuff and want to work (and have fun) together - you also have to be a good tribe-member. That means doing your share, having a good heart and helping other people, supporting them when they're having trouble. And in return, they'll support you when YOU have trouble. That's the way people got by for hundreds of thousands of years, and it's going to come back into style.
As to the specifics, I put my best ideas about what to do into the movie. Don't buy stuff from corporations that are doing bad stuff to people, or the planet. If you're going to buy new, buy from businesses run by people who live where you live, so the money stays in your community and helps your community. If you can buy used, or fix something that's broken, do that. Don't depend on buying stuff to feel good - use friendship to fill that hole inside. Good old face-to-face hanging out, talking, having fun, riding bikes somewhere, whatever. Facebook is not human contact - it's a substitute for human contact. Video games are not real life. TV is not real life. Having fun with people you love is real life.
Make some trouble - but do it with a sense of humor, because a sense of humor will get you PRESS COVERAGE and that's what you want. You want EVERYONE to know about what you're doing. So set up a funny stunt that doesn't hurt anyone, but will give the newspapers and radio stations a good story, and put the video on youtube.
Stop eating beef! My vegetarian friends want me to stop eating meat altogether, but I'm not ready. I now eat a lot LESS meat, though, and that's good for all kinds of reasons (the animals like it too.)
Learn some good old-fashioned skills. Learn to fix stuff, build things, grow your own food. An education is important, but we also need to be able to take care of ourselves on a physical level - it isn't one or the other, but both. There's probably a Transition Towns group where you live - join it. They’ll know all about this stuff, and it’s a great way to meet people for your tribe.
And of course as to your concern about population: we human beings have overshot the carrying capacity of our habitat (the Earth). Bill Rees, co-inventor of the ecological footprint, figures we’re now 50% past carrying capacity, living on our ecological credit card. So we need to allow the human population to decline. But it isn’t just about the number of humans – if we were the size of ants, it wouldn’t matter that there are 7 billion of us. The problem is that SOME OF US consume huge amounts of resources, and put out huge amounts of waste. If you have email, you’re probably one of them (so am I). So it matters a lot if you or I or people like us have babies, because our babies will use up WAYYYY more stuff than a baby born in the third world. That’s why I suggest that we hold it to one baby per couple – one baby in a lifetime – and of course that means birth control. I don’t know what your attitude is toward birth control, or your family’s, so all I can do is lay the math out in front of people. Everyone has to make their own choices in this area as in all the other ones. But the bottom line is we have to do everything we can to get our consumption and our waste down BELOW what the Earth can deal with. We have a long way to go and we need to get started today.
So that’s my answer. (I know it was long.) I’m glad the movie moved you, and I hope you won’t let that feeling pass – I’m hoping you’ll take action, and set an example for those around you. I hope you’ll form a tribe of people who want to know the facts, take action and have fun. Because in my experience, that is the best thing EVER. It’s made my life much better, and I’d like your life to be better too.
Keep me informed about where you go with all this.
UPDATE: We've been trading emails since, and my correspondent has become inspried to be a real leader in his community. He also sent me a fascinating link that will be going out on Twitter soon. I have yet another hero.