Do you know about Overshoot? Enviro-problems explained
That’s exactly what drew me in so much. At the end, when you were talking to people and saying let’s start trouble, and went to the corporate building, got kicked out, and you were all sitting around a table and visiting families. I got the sense that there are a lot of people that have and feel this, but need a kind of leader to jumpstart the movement.
Exactly. People are just waiting to say which hill do we run up? People just need someone to point to a hill and people will run up that one! And even If you don’t win, which often you won’t because you are against giant corporate interests, you make some friends.
Make trouble, make Noise. I’m telling you, I loved it! It was extremely inspirational. What is green consumption, and why do you consider it hypocritical?
Well if you look at the formula for overshoot – which is essentially population times consumption multiplied by technology – I-pad is the impact = population affluence times technology. The more consumption of anything is ultimately not going to be sustainable. The math does not work. So, can you make things more sustainably? Well, what does ‘more sustainably’ mean, right? Less sustainable, there is not. You can’t die a little. You either die or you’re alive, there are only two places. So the concept is flawed from the beginning, because what you need to do is consume less, which is just the formula [to lower overshoot] – it’s just math. So once you start with a flawed concept, you know, once you admit that you are a whore and we are only negotiating now, then the PR firms are saying, “Great! Because this is clear, so it must be good!”… And once you admit that concept, that “Ok I’m willing to kill the earth a little…”
It’s amazing. We talk about it here all the time. It’s amazing how smart the corporations are, who realize that if they tell you it is green, you will continue to buy it. It’s what you said: it’s telling you, don’t worry, buy it, but you’re killing the earth only a little, and you feel good about it.
Exactly…That should be the new slogan. “You’ll only be killing the Earth a little, not a lot!”
In the video you go from a guy who doesn’t really know much about these issues, to a guy who is very well aware of the effects of these issues on our lives. Is this an accurate representation of your own life?
Yeah, absolutely. I compressed the time line. When I read the stuff in ‘92 originally, I’d never heard of global warming, didn’t really know anything about the ozone hole, biodiversity was a word I’d never heard of. I was seriously uninformed. Then in ‘92 I read to worry that if we had a daughter would she curse me when she grew up? And she was born the next year, and that weighed in my conscience for 13 years. When I started this research, the movie’s subject matter changed, because I am ignorant. A friend – who is in the movie – showed me a poster from an organization which is available online, and it has all the world’s problems in one poster, so I ordered a copy and it was completely overwhelming, because there were so many things on there that I didn’t know anything about!
What’s the poster or the person called?
I’ll see if I can find it…I’ll try to find the link and send it to you…..It was so overwhelming that I just decided to put my finger on something and it landed on peak oil, which I’d never heard of before. So I spent the next six months studying peak oil, went into the abyss, which is the natural reaction to reading about peak oil, completely lost all hope and went into despair, read myself to sleep every night with a long emergency and stuff like that. But the sun kept coming up every morning, so I thought ‘ok, the sun is going to keep coming up – I better do something.’ So I went back into action. And that became the template for what I think the process is. And I think it’s what people are afraid of: they kind of know already, but are afraid to really know because then they’ll be in despair and never come out. But I say to them, I’m an example. Yes, you will go down into the abyss, it is dark down there, you’ll be down there for a while, maybe six months, then you’ll come out, you’ll recover your sense of humour, you will find other people who’ve already gone through the abyss, have a group of people to be with, and be able to go to other people who are afraid to know and say, “look I am Ok!”
For a fun-filled guy you are pretty pessimistic. I say that with the best of intentions, because I know what you mean. It’s kind of like a recovering alcoholic. You have to hit rock bottom before starting recovery.
Exactly. Despair is a feeling, not a reality. It’s a feeling about how things are. Reality is that the world is hopeful; that the sun is shining; that there are hundreds of people around you who are just waiting for you to say, ‘let’s run up that hill!’ It’s at your fingertips! Action and a happy life and joy and meaning are right there to be had! But if we’re afraid to take that first step, for whatever reason, then it doesn’t happen. And the first step is to know: to allow yourself to emotionally process what you know to be the truth, which is: things are not workings as they are.
What is your message for how people can inform themselves, because waiting for the news to tell us is simply not going to cut it, right?
You have to study. There are a million great documentaries on the subject. There are great books by certain authors who are biophysically based – a lot of peak oil people are biophysically based. There is Andrew Weaver, the climatologist up here who just wrote another book on global warming and the state of things. So there are excellent books on transition; Garbage Wars is a great movie; Earth Shift, too. There are all kinds of great stuff out there once you start looking. And the best part is that it’s all interconnected. So just start looking at what you’re interested in and you’ll find your way to other great stuff. There are also great websites, tons of them – www.recurrence.org, among others – all sorts of countercultural news sources, etc. And beyond that, there are great organizations. Just pick something. Pick the people that are doing famine, that are fighting for mass transit in Toronto, go up and join them and swell their ranks. Then you meet and talk to people and get to know others. And they’ll already have done research and will therefore be able to recommend other books and movies, etc…And then you have somebody to talk about it with, which is critically poignant because it’s an emotional process.