Chelsea Green Publishing

Chelsea Green Blog

Recession could have a silver lining for us and planet

Rob Hopkins, author of The Transition Handbook: From oil dependency to local resilience, was recently quoted in an article in the Irish Times.

From the article:

Stress, excess and environmental damage are just some things we might usefully jettison in leaner times, writes Breda O’Brien.

ROB HOPKINS, in his new book, The Transition Handbook – from Oil Dependency to Local Resilience, has a humorous analogy that might have some relevance for our looming recession.

He says that persuading people to change is like inviting a reluctant friend to come with you on holiday. “Environmentalists have often been guilty of presenting people with a mental image of the world’s least desirable holiday location – some seedy bed and breakfast near Torquay, with nylon sheets, cold tea and soggy toast – and expecting them to get excited about the prospect of NOT going there. The logic and psychology are all wrong.”

However, Hopkins may be too kind in his description of the picture that environmentalists paint. Rather than a seedy B&B, it is more like a holiday on the last remaining ice-floe with a starving and agitated polar bear. Environmentalists want to alert the world and shake it out of its complacency, and yet, at the same time, it is all too easy to reduce people to fatalistic passivity.

If selling environmental change is hard, even Pollyanna would be hard-pressed to sing the praises of a recession. The shiver down the spine is particularly real for those of us who remember the 1980s. However, for the middle classes who lost the run of themselves entirely in the last decade, it could represent a return to some form of sanity.

Even better, the demands of a recession overlap to a large extent with the demands of a planet where global warming and peak oil are realities. It may help some people take a giant leap in awareness now that we are being forced into change by economic realities like soaring petrol prices.

Our lifestyles, as we became more rich and privileged, became ever more wasteful. Cobblers went out of business because people just threw shoes away rather than getting them repaired. Household appliances were replaced because they did not match the new kitchen decor, not because they did not function. Children were casually tossed €20 or €30 every day to purchase their paninis and lattes, because packed lunches were so 1990s.

Meanwhile, we managed to ignore the real poor in our midst, and consign them to the category of losers. Strange how that tendency fades when we ourselves experience a touch of economic frost.

At some stage in the future, our grandchildren may look at the hideous waste mountains that we generated and the species we wiped out with the same horror that we regard children working down the mines in previous eras.

Yet in spite of our affluence, aside from property prices, stress was the second most common topic of conversation. People had more of everything except time, and that included more ulcers. For some people, there may be a secret sigh of relief now that the frantic quest for more, more, more seems to be coming to a halt all by itself.

Hopkins believes that a vision of the future that is positive and uplifting is far more effective than a lesson on how to avoid a holiday in a soggy B&B near Torquay.

He often uses humour to illustrate what he means. For example, he has a tongue-in-cheek tale of the Beckhams in 2029, still trendsetters in their 50s, building a cob house, and cooing over how they managed to make it smaller and smaller. Their new hobby is growing heirloom fruits and vegetables. (Cob is a building material made of clay, sand and straw.) That’s a sly dig at how our expectations of celebrity currently shape our lives, but there is more than a grain of truth in it. Already, celebrities are embracing the painless aspects of change – buying ethically sourced clothing, raiding secondhand shops or toting cloth bags instead of some monstrosity of a handbag that costs as much as a small car.

Read the full article here.


Chelsea Green Weekly for May 5, 2017

Ever wonder what your favorite Chelsea Green authors do between writing groundbreaking–both literally and figuratively–books? Here are the best links and resources for your weekend reading pleasure. Let’s start with The Alzheimer’s Antidote. The Alzheimer’s Antidote Amy Berger has been making the rounds on the health, wellness, and fitness circuit, explaining the theories behind her revolutionary […] Read More

How to Make Biochar

Doing some spring cleaning around your property? By making biochar from brush and other hard-to-compost organic material, you can improve soil—it enhances nutrient availability and also enables soil to retain nutrients longer. This excerpt from The New Farmer’s Almanac, Volume 3, explains how to get started. To make biochar right in your garden, start by […] Read More

The 10 Steps that Establish Your Baby’s Microbiome

Research is emerging almost daily on the role of the microbiome in human health. But how do we acquire this mysterious community of microbes and more importantly how do we make sure the good bacteria outnumber the bad? According to a new book by Toni Harman and Alex Wakeford, Your Baby’s Microbiome, it all starts […] Read More

Prepare! Keep a Grab-n-Go Survival Kit Handy

Are you prepared in the event of a sudden emergency? Blizzard, earthquake, insurrection after the inauguration? We know a lot of people are wondering what’s coming next in the US, as well as the world, given terrorism, politics, and global warming, among other threats. In this excerpt from When Technology Fails, a popular book on […] Read More

Chelsea Green: In the Media 2016

Oh, 2016. Where did the time go? Each year, Chelsea Green receives hundreds of mentions (well over 1000 in 2016) in the media both big and small. From interviews, to excerpts, to opinion pieces by authors we’re always working to make sure that the mission and message of each book is spread far and wide. […] Read More
+1
Tweet
Share
Share
Pin