Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Suicidal Planet

I have been warned not to take an American (Canuck) attitude or impose my criticisms. People in glass houses should not throw stones. But that is not my intention, any criticism is self intended as well, as I frequently detect hypocrisy in my desires and thoughts. Being in and observing another culture simply clarifies thoughts that pre-existed. An analogy that I like to use is the criticism that one feels in a city being visited for the lack of visibility or improper placement of street signs required for navigation, whereas being familiar with one's home town one does not feel the same criticism at home, unless you cultivate a tourist's mind as you travel in your home town (let's ignore GPS navigational aids).

April 1, 2012 we were at a demonstration protesting the danger of keeping nuclear reactors functional. This stimulated thinking. Japan like most developed or developing countries probably is experiencing increased electricity demands each year. Shutting down reactors will not permit unfettered energy demands. So called green sources of energy such as wind turbines and solar panels will not fill the gap in current political environments. Wind turbines are an eyesore protruding from the tops of formerly scenic mountaintops. Unless installed on or incorporated unobtrusively on rooftops, solar panels can also be an eyesore.
Maybe it is time to modify our daily cycles. When the sun rises so should we. When it settles down for the night so should we. Winter in extreme latitudes could encourage partial energy saving "hibernation".

Houses need to be made much more intelligently. There are too many instances of cookie cutter houses. After tolerating non-centrally heated houses I am not certain any more whether American style central heating is essential. One Japanese product that makes a cool room much more bearable at night is the electric heating pad which can be placed n the floor to sit on or under futon heating pads. With proper futons sleeping in a five degree Centigrade room can be quite comfortable.

Why do we tolerate it? A ditch/water canal I observed recently has given me nightmares. I could not believe what people discard. Signs with significant financial penalties are no deterrent. Vending machines and the cans and bottles they dispense are one of the primary sources of roadside debris.
It must be possible to properly dispose/recycle anything easily. Recycling must be built into products. Manufacturers need to take much more responsibility and deliver quality not quantity. Planned obsolescence is not feasible any longer. Appliances should not break down and should be easily maintainable/repairable. Electronics are a major headache with innovations occurring daily. Sending obsolete electronics to other countries to be handled is a very irresponsible answer to the problem.

The measurement of Gross Domestic Product must be eradicated. A country's health is measured by increases in the GDP. What a gross concept! This concept is predicated on an increasing population and increased demands for consumer goods. An increasing population is not sustainable. This is a very unpopular topic, but any thinking person must agree. There are finite resources on this planet and no one person or country has the right to more than their share for themselves or their family. Life is a privilege and a responsibility not a right.
If the GDP flattens out, presumably the investment world will be in chaos. Is a healthy economy really dependent on an increasing GDP? The financial problems currently being experienced by many countries around the globe is a symptom of a flawed system.

An increasing population is a guarantee of eventual collapse of world food supplies. There have been warnings that the world's store houses are losing ground yearly. Agricultural technologies are based on flimsy foundations and cannot be expected to reliably feed the planet much longer. Events such as climate change could wreak havoc with food production.
The waste of food in developed countries is inexcusable. Substantial percentages of food purchased is simply discarded. If you want to eat you should be involved in food production, such as a vegetable garden. Or maybe all of us carnivores should help slaughter some pigs or chickens. Vegetarianism is arguably a positive trend, but some marginal land is only useful for raising livestock. In extreme latitudes an animal diet is the only viable choice. Transportation of food around the world needs to be discouraged in favour of locally grown products.

What is their purpose? Are we leaches on our agrarian neighbours? Population needs to decrease to less than one billion people or a level that people can live on and off the land. If technology (read mobile phones) is necessary it may be required to support a small urban population of experts with the skills to produce for the rest of society.

Transportation is most easily provided in an urban environment. Since cities are likely to remain a fact of life, they need appropriate public transportation that can replace our insistence on the rubber legged quadruped most of is insist on driving. "Public" needs to be defined as government sponsored to such an extent that convenience and expense would encourage everyone to utilize it. Bipedal transportation is the most ideal and people should live close to where they work and where they shop for essentials.

Probably half or more of all products sold today are non-essentials. Advertising is the modern curse and we primitives continue to be susceptible to its allure. Where do the expressions "downsizing" and "minimalist lifestyles" come from? They are obviously a reaction to impulse purchasing of frivolous non-essentials.


  1. You go Lester! A good "rant." But not easy to implement by us who have become accustomed to unsustainable lifestyles. Will we make the necessary changes voluntarily, or will it take cataclysmic events to force change? Today gas prices across Canada have risen to as much as $1.40 per litre. We are outraged by the cost of our addiction. But not enough to change. I'm delighted to see how exposure to another culture has clarified your perception of your own.

    1. I am reminded of the story of Joseph and his interpretation of Pharoah's dream of seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine. Population growth combined with agricultural practices that cannot continue indefinitely and that dream will be reality soon enough. Today my belly is full, rice and curry, but tomorrow....

  2. Hi Lester and Yayoi!
    Following you via your blog entries has been not only informative but also valuable from the friendship perspective. Thanks for recording your experiences and thoughts and, Yayoi, for adding all the photos!
    Lester, you've listed most of my vexatious pet peeves! What to do? I'm pretty well convinced that our lifestyle simply has to change ... but how go about it?? I guess the answer is, start small but begin somewhere and then proceed gradually.
    More topics could probably be added -- clothing/fashions, (personal and specific) addictions, stewardship (time, money, energy, resources), etc.
    Thanks again for your expressions of frustration.

    1. Clothing was another paragraph heading, but I omitted it. What do us guys know about clothing? Anyway I was compelled to write because of some of the unrealistic expectations such as tax cuts when lots of money is needed to clean up the tsunami disaster and curtailing nuclear energy when lots of electricity is required for Japanese to survive hot humid summers. Be aware a raft of this tsunami garbage is floating across the Pacific towards North America. But what really is irritating me is the people who insist in fouling their own nests. I am observing incredible instances of illegal garbage disposal out here in the countryside. It literally gives me nightmares. I would need a very large truck and special tools to begin cleaning it up.