In the public imagination, the electric car – and the hybrid car before it – has been hailed as a key solution for consumers to reduce their environmental impact and help slow climate change.
As one indicator, web searches for Tesla are up over 450% from 2012 to 2018 peak, and the company is now valued at over US$54 billion on the stock market. The cars are selling, too: Tesla sales are up seven-fold from Q3 2015 to Q3 2018.
As consumers, we always want more, and we are very good at justifying these wants as needs. I discuss how to separate wants from needs, why it is important in a world on the cusp of irreversible climate breakdown, and why we urgently need to want less.
The modern society wants us to be productive, to optimise, to fit more into a day. Slowing down is thought of as a weakness, something to look down upon.
Consider a Monday conversation at the office, where your colleague asks what you did over the weekend. The reaction is to rattle off a list, to recall each activity, to talk about the quantity of things we did. The more the better; otherwise your weekend must have been a waste.
A key to fitting in more is choosing convenience. Convenience is sold as the solution to help with our busy lives, and it comes in many shapes and forms.
One core feature of globalised capitalism is that supply and demand, production and consumption are geographically separated. Consumers buying physical products have very little visibility into the supply chain and the participating organisations beyond the maker (the public brand) and the seller (the place of purchase). As consumers, we tend to stick with the story crafted by marketing and advertising, and assessing the sustainability of a product beyond this superficial understanding is a challenge we are not encouraged to take on.
We want to live meaningful lives on a healthy planet and we want the generations to come to be able to do the same.
And a related definition of true sustainability (Ehrenfeld 2009):
[Sustainability is] the possibility that humans and other life will flourish on the planet forever
We are currently using 1.7 Earths each year. This means that ‘we use more ecological resources and services than nature can regenerate, through overfishing, overharvesting forests, and emitting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than ecosystems can absorb’ (source).
This post is about noise. It follows us everywhere, and there are lots of it.
I am writing this in the middle of Melbourne at an open-plan office where the floors above and the property next door have been renovated for months. Drilling, grinding, banging, hacking, boring, buzzing, sawing.