Midnight Oil

[Powderworks] NMOC - Enemies of Sustainability

Bruce Robertson the_oil_fish at yahoo.ca
Tue Oct 5 15:41:10 MDT 2004

Greetings Fellow Workers,

According to some folks, the 5 major obstacles to living sustainably come down to these in no particular order: 

flush toilets 
single family dwellings 

No explanation was given, but coming up with rationales for each is itself a worthwhile activity imo.

I suppose these ideas have their roots in the urban ecology movement and the eco-city concept, as articulated by the same folks who advocate the bicycle and the composter as icons for new living, and brought us sayings like "The road to hell is paved."

Julian, I think the lawnmower is included because it symbolizes our obsession with taming the natural world, but I'm not really sure. Some really serious urban ecologists do advocate letting your lawn go back to what it was - dandelions, native grass, wild flowers, buffallos??? - whatever that may have been. This isn't really possible in most cities, but the idea is provocative and has some merit. I'd like to replace my lawnmower with a goat or weeder geese, (seriously) but there are bylaws against this.

Perhaps the anti-lawnmower idea is better understood in the context of communal thinking. Why, for example, does every house on my block own a lawnmower? It's ludicrous. Our homes are attached, yards are tiny, and one lawnmower could be shared by several families. The same could be said of snow-blowers (eh!), bicycles, garden tools, etc., if we were willing to think a bit differently and get connected. According to research cited in the New Internationalist, there are about 300 items which are essential to running a household. (Unfortunately, they did not say which 300.) The same article claimed that the average American household possesses at least 15 000 items.

We just had a garage sale on our block, and I can attest to this being equally true in Canada. More is a 4 letter word...


bruce in calgary

PS: Julian, isn't an ethical society one which also places a premium value on the dignity and availability of meaningful work? I'm not disagreeing with you about treating animals well, but finding a balance is a very complicated issue. I agree that fox hunting is a pompous and intolerable 'sport' which should be banned outright. But seal hunting (which is more brutal) is not so cut-and-dried IMO, given the devastation a ban visits on a community.

Sizzle...ah the smell of seared Worker flesh...If I don't get flamed for this it's only because nobody has read all the way to the bottom. (I can't blame them either.)  :)

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