Are you willing to sacrifice?, 25°

Change is fundamentally about sacrifice. Whether it's choosing chocolate ice cream or vanilla, when we decide on a course of action we sacrifice alternative options.

Faced with climate instability and the social and political turmoil that will result in "staying the course", most everyone who visits Celsias has already decided to participate in the change that will lessen the damage.

But are we really willing to make the sacrifices needed to achieve the goal?

As the debate about off-shore drilling again returns to the national spotlight, I recognize that for many families the price of gas is seriously impacting their stability, happiness, and opportunity. Though I know with great certainty that the crutch of expanded oil exploration won't help ease their financial (and too often emotional) pain, by opposing the oil rigs I am asking others to make an emotional sacrifice. I'm asking them, those still addicted to oil, to suck it up and change their lifestyle. That is a painful sacrifice for most people.

My lifestyle requires very little gasoline, but I'm not blind to the fact I am unique in this perspective, relatively speaking. Many of the actions on this website that I have agreed to aren't really painful sacrifices, most actually enhance my happiness. But how ethical is it to ask others to suffer more than I am willing to suffer?

So my question for this discussion is this, what are you willing to give up, what painful sacrifice (emotionally) are you willing to agree to in order to put skin into the game?

14 replies

C Robb W. 444°

Human resistance to change is a fundamental barrier to happiness. We resist even when all the evidence points to a better way.

If we are going to sacrifice we must insure that our actions have an immediate effect. For instance, grid tied solar PV produces no measurable reduction in GHG emissions until actual change in power plant operations occur. This won't happen until thousands of people mount solar PV on their roofs as well. Conservation is not required and research indicates only 6% improvements in conservation behaviour. However, if you choose to go off grid you must, by design, practice significant conservation behaviour as you have a finite amount of power available.

So not only do you not use a 3kw hair dryer but you don't purchase it either, multiply that out to every other piece of superfluous gadgetry you don't purchase and operate due to your finite power system and the savings are immediate and quantifiable.

This level of "sacrifice", if you choose to call it that, is much more effective because you have reduced demand to a far higher degree than if you merely added a grid tied system to your house with very little demand reduction.

How many people are willing to give up a front loading fridge freezer, a dishwasher, extra televisions, game consoles, extra computers, multiple telephones, bug zappers, power tools, toasters, resistance heaters, electric water heaters, air conditioners, curling irons, uncurling irons, power washers, air compressors, excessive lighting, electric towel dryers, power showers, etc, etc, etc....

Would our lives be richer without all that crap? certainly our bank accounts would be fatter, not only for not having bought it all but also for not having paid the utility to power it. We could work less because we'd be spending less. Hmm what would we do with all our time if we didn't have gadgetry to buy and spend time with; quality family time, get to know the neighbors, grow food, cook food, read a book, watch the sunset, feel the evening breeze, make love, teach our children, keep bees, raise chickens, get enough exercise, get enough sleep, etc, etc, etc.....

Oh I'm sorry, I was supposed to be talking about sacrifice......

Written in August 2008

1 person thinks this is a cool reply

Yes this is about sacrifice - the reason everyone is pointing the finger at each other - is that there will be winners and losers in the environmental fallout from Climate Change. Where you sit on the Climate debate is about where your interests lie. However, to make the issue really pertinent think that 500 years ago Europeans lived dirty smelly lives, whilst China and India were prospering beautifully. Europe (think USA, Australia, Canada- extensions of western thinking) has lived off the rest of the world for 500 years, not paying the proper price for tea, coffee, sugar, timber, spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon and as a result all other cultures around the world have been plundered- the environment ruined and people impoverished. The answer is simple pay the proper price for these basic commodities and the standard of living will go up in the developing world and plumet in the 1st world. Of course all of us don't really want to do this because our standard of living would go down. The $500 a week pay packet would buy only $100 worth of goods. Sobering - we have to get used to higher prices for basic commodities which is best for the environment and would reverse 500 years of history.

Written in August 2008

Some things are so easy when I just get used to doing them, like switching to reusable shopping bags and changing the thermostat and the lightbulbs.
I'm working up my initiative to do the harder things. It helps to have support, and not be the only crazy lady that people stare at. Here in backwoods downsouth Louisiana, "Green" is seen as weird. I'm a shy person by nature, and its hard to stand out and be different. The little community organization a few of us have formed is helping us not feel so alone and isolated in what we're doing.
A year ago, I never would have imagined I'd be doing what I'm doing. Who knows what I will have done and gotten used to in another year? All in all, the 'sacrifices' I've made tend to enrich my life, not take away from it.
I know if I can push the boundaries of my comfort level more, I will accomplish more.

Written in August 2008

C Robb W. 444°

Yes, community is so important. This is what Celsias is all about. While not local I think of it as a community nonetheless. I am researching nieghborhood food growing for my masters thesis and it is really pointing up the value of having neighbors to do it with, moral support, advice, material support, labour sharing, etc. Even when talking about making "sacrifices", if we choose to call them that, I think community support is vital. The transition town movement uses this strategy to great success. Plan an evening of neighborhood communal food sharing, a pot luck, a harvest feast, whatever and show a movie like The End of Suburbia, or The Community Solution about Cuba, and use it as a springboard for discussion. It will help to build community around your efforts.

Written in August 2008

1 person thinks this is a cool reply

C Robb W. 444°

George Monbiot writes about "love miles", the distance we travel to see loved ones, most damagingly on airplanes. I struggle with this one as I live in the UK and my family, other than my wife, are in the US. I've reduced my flying by more than half but I still fly typically once/year to see my family. We have investigated ships and hope to utilize that mode of transport when we move back next year but for now we fly. So no Sudeep, I guess I'm not willing yet to part with a loved one. I expect that once we move to the states our flying will decrease by half again and it won't be long before flying becomes something only the rich can afford anyway.

Written in August 2008

Charles M. 110°

Why does "sacrifice" have to be painful? Do we get self flagellation credits?

Why the negative? Change is also about opportunity. Dump the consumptive lifestyle and get your real life back.

When we moved country 16 years ago, I was given lots of job offers in USA, but we chose to live in NZ instead. We could have had the big-bucks lifestyle new flashy cars etc, but chose to live on one salary in NZ, earning way less than if I had gone to live in USA or gone for the two-earner lifestyle. Sure, we have far fewer material possessions, and very seldom make any long trips, but that's the choice we have made and we are happy with it.

Economists link consumption with "quality of life":
* A person using 5 gal of fuel a day is having a better time than someone using 1 gal a day.
* A person drinking a $3 coffee is having a better life than someone drinking a $2 coffee.

People are such victims to image etc portrayed on TV etc that drives their consumptive behavior. "There's nothing older than last year's model" was a 1980s GM ad (I think). We still seem to need to upgrade our cellphone once a year and have a shiny car.

What we really need is a healthier attitude which will show us that we can reduce consumption and actually feel better about ourselves. That does not have to mean huge changes either. Getting a new cell phone every 2 years instead of every year and you've halved you cellphone consumption.

Visit loved ones every second year instead of every year makes those visits even more special and halves your "love miles".

Step 1: Turn off the TV.

Step 2: Look for the positives.

Written in September 2008

1 person thinks this is a cool reply

Charles M. 110°

In my case I guess I did make some emotional sacrifice in that I have never been back to my original country in 16 years.

But sacrifice does not have to be all or nothing. Traveling "back home" or whatever you want to think of it does not have to be a yearly event. Cutting it from every year to every second year halves the impact.Cutting it to every third year even better.

I can see that perhaps you would part from parents, but parting from your wife/partner/nuclear family unit is not really sustainable (unless you are by nature a hermit or are estranged). Sustainability needs to be seen holistically: environmental + economically + emotionally.

If you had 10 million dollars and had one of those eco-mansions built for you then that is hardly sustainable. Lifewise if you are a very family oriented person then moving to the other end of the planet is not sustainable either.

I did not move for purely sustainability reasons. If I'd done that I would have moved only a hundred miles or so. Perhaps most people in the world can find a sustainable lifestyle within 100 - 200 miles of where they live now. Heck: people even raise all their vegetable needs in communal gardens within the boundaries of New York City.

Written in September 2008

2 people think this is a cool reply

Sacrafice, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. While my household has made many changes to be more environmentally respectful and more energy efficient, we don't see it as a sacrifice. We see it as being a lean, mean fighting machine! Fighting to bring back the beauty of our once pristeen environment, providing habitat for our indiginous creatures and fighting to stop waste and misuse. We lead a simple life, but a full life. Growing our own produce is not a sacrifice, but the coolest part of country living! Little things add up to big things and when you get 100 people doing one little thing, you multiply the effects 100%. I challenge everyone to find that one thing!

Written in September 2008

1 person thinks this is a cool reply

Satur A. 237°

...yeah of course why not...if it is for the sake of our mother earth why not.... look we should get moving before nature gets angry... and return back all bad things that were doing....

Written in September 2010

John C.

thanks for the new post

Written in September 2010

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