Our air conditioning went out last Sunday. Tons of people live without air conditioning, including in Texas, and obviously it would not have killed us to go without it for a few days, but I was still quite glad that it was fixed within a few hours of the sun coming out on Monday morning.
It got me thinking, though, about what I would give up if it were guaranteed to solve the climate problem. We usually air condition our house to 82 in the summer, would we be willing to go to 90? 95? When it’s cold, we heat to 65 or 68 depending on how much I’m moving around the house. Would I be willing to go to 60?
Would I be wiling to say okay, we’ll only drive to the library closest to our house, and the park that’s closest, and only to each of those once each week? We’ll entertain the two year old within walking distance of our house for the other five days.
If I wore makeup, would I be willing to give that up?
Would I be willing to give up margarine? I can’t imagine it’s a good use of resources to manufacture it and make all those plastic tubs. What foods that don’t grow within Texas would I be willing to give up?
Would C-Man give up buying new video game consoles? Would I give up buying new non-organic cotton fabric for quilting until all the pre-existing fabric in America was re-used, and then only buy locally and organically grown fabric? Would I drive to Colorado instead of fly?
I realize that consumer choices alone are not the solution. We probably can’t not-buy our way out of this mess. Also, if we all decided to avoid purchasing anything we don’t need for bare survival overnight, I think the current recession would pale in comparison to the economic collapse that would ensue. My small individual day-to-day purchasing decisions can’t re-plan cities so that more of the neighborhoods are walkable, the majority of our electricity is suddenly produced by renewable resources, our houses are a reasonable size, and the majority of our population eats lower on the food chain a lot more often.
But when you look at the average resources consumed by an American versus someone elsewhere in the world, you have to stop and think: if they were suddenly consuming like we do, how much would that mess things up? And if we can’t afford for everyone to be us, then what about our current way of life has to change to bring it down to a level that we can afford to have everyone enjoy? What would that look like? What would I be going without?