All posts by enletusbeone

This is how we can save the earth

Introduction

Many humans already feel it, is time to turn back. That it would be good for us and our earth if we consumed a little less. We humans in developed industrial nations live beyond our means, often at the expense of those in other parts of the world. But it is difficult for us to change our habits – where should we start?

Many do not believe that there is a human-induced climate change. But for no reason, we do not change our consumption habits. We humans are not predisposed to say of our own accord – I take less.

What why we do not believe in it. But just assume that there is a real danger of climate change. Would it not be easier to say that I use less because of care for our earth?

Today’s state

Our earth is destroyed because we are exploiting fossil fuels, raw materials and energy. We often live at the expense of our sisters and brothers in other parts of the world. Salvation can only be achieved if the unrestrained exploitation of resources is drastically reduced.

The blame for the depletion is the dominant economic system, which is geared exclusively to profit maximization. It is based on the free market, which responds to people’s demand with its offer. Due to globalization and the increasing flexibility of the industry, politics are less and less able to regulate it. You can tell from the extremely long deadlines for climate protection measures.

The facts show that despite the general knowledge about the impending global catastrophe and despite the clear signs (melting of the North Pole, deforestation of the rainforests, pollution of the seas with plastic), no change in the behavior of people in the developed industrialized countries can be seen.

In these states, a reward system has manifested itself. We continue to reward ourselves by buying things far beyond our basic material needs. Therefore, the demand for goods that consume natural resources remains stable and it is driven by advertising and increasingly short-lived products.

How does economy work?

Economy can be thought of as a big machine that runs on its own. The operating principle is the free market, which regulates the machine in a wonderful way. The faster the machine runs, the more natural resources and fossil fuels are consumed and the more waste is produced. Nobody can and should intervene in this machine. This is what politicians and entrepreneurs say. That is why it is also very difficult or even impossible to enforce climate protection measures.

But what is the machine powered by? The machine is driven by the demand of the people, thus by the consumption of the consumers. If people suddenly stopped buying, the machine would stop. There is no other drive for this machine than consumption.

If we consumers, we humans, run this machine more slowly by consuming less, it would be much better for our earth and thus for our future and the future of our children and descendants.

The solution

The machine „economy“ and the market don’t care if less is produced. The representatives of the market economy say it themselves that the market is flexible and ingeniously regulates itself.

Do not be afraid that the economy is shrinking. In the Christmas shopping season, the market compensates for short-term fluctuations in demand of more than 25%. A gradual decline will not bother the market at all. Trust the market. It really doesn’t matter if the economy shrinks.

If less is produced, then less work is needed. But it does not hurt to work less. As less goods is consumed, it does not matter to earn less because we will need less money. There is also a big advantage in this: people’s stress real decrease and there will be far fewer commuters, cars and therefore less traffic jams.

Increasing leisure time benefits civil society, which can then perform many tasks in society. Tasks that people feel called to and that they will voluntarily take on. Tasks they like to fulfill and for which they do not have to be sent through the job market.

Those whose profits are diminished will warn and threaten. But they, too, will be then able to enjoy the pleasant sides of civil society when they no longer have to bear the burden and responsibility of wealth.

How can I start?

Consumption is something so normal for us that it is very difficult to find a start. Perhaps the following consideration will help.

If people live beyond their means then they go into debt. We have become indebted to the earth and symbolically to our fellow human beings in continents with less consumption.

If someone is in debt, then he must think carefully about how he can reduce the debt. He needs to consider carefully about what he really needs to live without suffering.

Try to imagine, you are deeply in debt and you must try to get out of this debt. Therefore, only buy what you really need to live.

If we do that, money will be left over. You can save it, which is not very worthwhile at the moment. Or you can donate it to a charitable purpose. You can also invest it sustainably. Or you can take the remaining money and buy high-quality, organic food or clothing from sustainable production.

What does Pre-apocalyptic mean?

Humanity produces every hour as much energy as if it were exploding 1000 Hiroshima nuclear bombs. Always. Every hour of the year. Or as if a meteorite the size of the Pyramid of Cheops would strike daily.

Bombs and meteorites leave traces that you can see. Energy leaves the same traces, but you can not see these traces. Nevertheless, they are and will remain there.

If nothing changes, global energy demand will continue to rise by a third over the next 15 years. Everyone talks about wind and solar energy, but that’s just 2%.

The Museum of Natural History in Berlin once showed a multimedia projection with represented the history of the earth in the space of a day. At zero o’clock you saw a glowing boulder. After the formation of the protozoa at 15 o’clock, the mammals formed around 23 o’clock. The first Homo Sapiens was born at 23:59 and 58 seconds.

The genesis of coal and oil took 15 minutes.

We have blown up this gigantic amount of fossil fuels in the last microseconds of the day within the duration of a photo flash. And that should be without effect?

All, except a few crazy kids and scientists say, “Oh, but we do not notice anything from the climate change!”. But why don’t we notice anything?

Put your hand on the plate of your electric stove and switch it on. It flows the hole full power but what do you notice? Nothing. At some point it will be pleasantly warm and soon afterwards you will let go. After half a minute, the plate glows.

We, here on Earth, are right now on this moment when it’s pleasantly warm. Actually, it would be the right moment to turn off the stove. If you have to sit on it and can not get away, you really should do it.

Do you now understand what pre-apocalyptic means?

Work and work

For almost three years I have been working once a week as a volunteer in the homeless shelter in Utrecht. Morning and evening services are performed by two permanent employees of the foundation and two to three volunteers. There is also a kitchen where a three-course meal is prepared by unpaid chefs and kitchen helpers for about 60 homeless people every day of the year.

During my service, I do simmilar tasks as a permanent employee, with the difference that I don’t get a cent for it. But serving these humble, grateful, simple, and kind, loving people is so much fun that I have never really thought about it. For some years now I have not worked at all for money. But of course I work. I am an educator, tutor, cook, cleaner, mechanic, supplier, entertainer.

I often think about the system change that we urgently need if we want to leave our children and grandchildren a world worth living in . A world that is not dominated by “buying and throwing away” but by “spending time together”. There are many demonstrations worldwide on the streets for this idea , but I have the impression that nobody knows exactly how to do this system change. I also go out on the streets regularly to demonstrate and I know the demonstrators and I know that a violent revolution is out of the question. So what to do?

We are currently dominated by the global market, which is geared exclusively to maximizing profits. How can you tackle this market? Paid work is an important pillar of this market, since paid work creates a dependency relationship with the market or with the company, which is part of the market. We know that the economy has to shrink and that this has little impact on our standard of living – if we don’t just see living standards in buying and throwing away. Our technology is so advanced that if we worked two or three days a week, it would be enough. But many people are afraid of the economy shrinking because they are afraid of losing their jobs. This is mainly for financial reasons. But an important reason is also the loss of personality and self-affirmation that you get from practicing your profession. This reason would not apply, if unpaid and voluntary work is recognized just like paid work. Then many people would be willing to give up their paid work to take better care of their families and take on volunteer work in civil society that they enjoy.

I think that the struggle for better recognition unpaid work must also be an important task for feminist action groups.

At the same time, civil society must be defined. Civil society should not be understood to only involve people in political decisions. Civil society is everything one likes to do for others without financial interest. Support in schools, hospitals, old people’s homes, in agriculture, with repairs, transport etc. There is enormous potential here. Structuring the possibilities of civil society will also benefit the employment offices, which will have to face an increasing number of unemployed in the future. They will be happy to use the opportunities of civil society to offer people an alternative. Similarly, those responsible in the state have to think about how the financial indemnity of unpaid workers can be done. But since you can get a lot of services from civil society for free, you will be able to make do with less money in the future and the money will also get a different value. For the first time in history, we are able to provide all people with sufficient supplies if everything is distributed fairly. So it is no longer necessary to put money back as a reserve.

Social economists have demonstrated that unpaid work provides the same and better results as paid work. I know from my own experience that volunteering can replace apparent wealth with a large apartment, an expensive car, and rewards with shopping because volunteering creates more satisfaction because you do something for others without receiving material wages. This will also appeal to those who still spend their free time visiting shopping centers.

If civil society grows visibly for everyone and takes concrete forms, the term “economic growth” will be replaced in the arguments of politicians by the term “civil society growth”.

Christians and Fridays for Future

I will try to adapt the parable of the rich, who was exuberantly celebrating, and the poor Lazarus. Luke 16:19-31

“It was a group of people sitting on a terrace now, end of September, celebrating. Since it was already quite cool, the radiant heaters were switched on. The people did not have a bad conscience because they were told, that the power for the radiant heater comes from the biomass power plant, so it’s green electricity.

On the other side of the world in the Amazon rainforest, a family was sitting in front of their hut. They already heard the machines clearing the rainforest to make way for new palm oil plantations. Palm oil plantations that supply the biomass for biofuels in Europe. The father called, stop, we need our rainforest to live, but nobody heard his screams.”

Christ condemns the life of the rich and causes him to burn in purgatory after his death. But he does not condemn him because he is celebrating, Christ was not against celebration, just think of the wedding of Canaan. He condemns him because he was celebrating exuberantly.

Also for us in our society it is not enough just to celebrate. No, we have to sit outside and it has to be nice warm anyway. So we turn on the outdoor heating, although we know that the North Pole will melt in a short time. And these signs of exuberant behavior run through our entire lives. Let’s think of the coffee capsules. Previously you could brew the coffee still in a coffee machine, but then someone said: you work hard, so you can reward yourself with a coffee machine working with coffee capsules. And now we throw away a plastic cup with every cup of coffee. It is not enough for us to live well, no, we always want to live better. We want always more wealth. And we do not realize how exuberantly we have been living for a long time and that we often do so at the expense of others who are far away and whom we do not see.

And we do not stop celebrating with splendor. We are always inventing new solutions to continue celebrating exuberantly. We think that electric cars are our salvation, but where do the important raw materials for the batteries come from? From China and Africa.

The reason that we do not see it and why we can not or do not want to change it, is in ourselves, in our psyche. 29th of September is the day of refugees and migrants and our Pope Francis sent a letter to all Christians. For me, the following sentence is the most significant: “The most economically advanced societies are witnessing a growing trend towards extreme individualism which, combined with a utilitarian mentality and reinforced by the media, is producing a “globalization of indifference”. ” As a reason for it Pope Francis mentioned the property “utilitarian”.

There is a cartoon that describes accurately this behavior. We are the strong and powerful, and there are the weak, who are far away. The person standing at the switch will always steer the tram without breaks in the direction of the weak. We can not do anything against it, that’s our nature, our understanding. We will always drive the tram in the same direction. That’s why we will not give up our luxury on our own.

The outdoor heaters will only be switched off when there is not enough current. When the power plants produce less. But how should that happen?

I can see that a real miracle is happening these days. For about a year, kids and teens around the world have been regularly taking to the streets to call for action to save our planet. It is not common for children to be interested in climate protection. Usually, this is far beyond their interests, which are primarily about music, friendships, school or just resting. It is also very extraordinary that this happened almost simultaneously around the world and now lasts for almost a full year. On 27th September 2019, I was at a large demonstration of children and young people in The Hague and I was able to experience this miracle first hand. The children had so cheerfully expressed their desire for climate protection, it was a very light and special spirit filled atmosphere. Despite the fact that about 30,000 children and young people were demonstrating, there was almost no police to be seen, as is the case with other demonstrations seen on television. In the days before, there was the climate march that five girls between the ages of 14 and 18 had initiated. We walked 140 kilometers from Wageningen to the Climate demonstration in The Hague to arouse people and open their eyes. There were also many “climate grandparents” with me and I could talk to many of them.

And what do the children want? They want laws to protect the environment, which cause the power plants to emit less CO2 because the CO2 warms the earth. But less CO2 is only possible if the power plants produce less electricity. And then there is not enough electricity left to switch on the outdoor heaters. You certainly understand that the outdoor heaters are just one example of our exuberant behavior. And because Christ can not actively intervene, with this miracle He makes sure that we have to limit our “glittering festivals”.

Thoughts about poverty

I’m not really poor. But 4 years ago I stopped working and since then I have no income. I was then 60 years old. We moved to another city because of my wife’s job and I did not want to apply for a new job. Since then we only live on the salary of my wife. I try to be as economical as possible. I only buy new trousers once a year when the old one starts to break and a pair of sandals every two years. I was able to repair my son’s old cell phone and I have been using it ever since. And I bought my two glasses for near and distans at Hema for three euros. Except a book now and then, I do not buy anything. Nevertheless, I miss nothing but in recent years I have had something that most do not have, I’ve had a lot of time for my children and for my hobbys, sing and play music.

The decision to stop working did not come at all through my Christian faith. But, of course, there are occasional Christians who, because of their faith, are willing to follow Christ. They would take the easy yoke on immediately, the easy yoke he offers them. Many of the younger people have certainly never seen a yoke, except in photos or paintings. It is the beam that will be place on the shoulder of the ox and with which they pull the heavy loads. But Christ says “my yoke is easy, and my burden is light”. How can that be? I imagine this with the easy yoke as follows: It seems impossible to many to give up their wealth and surrender to the simple life. One does not give up its freedom so easily, to buy and to do whatever one wants. This supposed freedom is so important to us, especially to the people in our western society. Therefore, the decision to give up our “freedom” is very difficult and actually impossible. It’s like having to endure a heavy yoke, which you do not want at all. But the people who have managed to free themselves from the constraints of money find that it opens so many good ways to live, even if one has little or no money. They now have so much real freedom and so much less responsibility that they can not understand why the freedom of money was to such importance to them. Everything is suddenly very easy. The heavy yoke has become a light yoke. Perhaps the best known example of this is the life of Francis of Assisi.

But there are other people who free themselves from the compulsion of money. If you search in Google for minimalists, you will find them. They also give up their job. But I do not mean those who spend a sabbatical year and then often return to their old way of life. The minimalists who I mean give up their jobs and sell their possessions. Then they move, e.g. into a Tiny House and try to live as sparingly as possible. However, for them, this decision often comes not out of Christian motives but rather to escape the compulsion to consume.

And then there are the homeless. Most of them have not chosen this path with their own free will, or out of Christian faith. But they too have no possessions and no work. They consume very little and everything they have fits in two large shopping bags. Here in Utrecht they do not have to suffer any hardship, the city and many volunteers, one of whom I am, take good care of them. And that they are not unhappy. You can see it clearly when you’re with them.

The causes and reasons of all these people to consciously choose the simple life or to land there by circumstances are very diverse. In the least they are Christian motives. But there is something that they all have in common. Something very strong Christian. without realizing it, all these people carry the light yoke they have received from Christ . And they follow Christ, whether they believe it or not.

The 12

Nowdays politicians have too little influence on the global economy to be able to intervene effectively with climate protection measures.

Business executives either strictly refuse to intervene in the principles of supply and demand, or make statements that mark stagnating economic growth as dangerous.

They are smart people who have of course heard of “limits to growth” or who are familiar with the problems of factory farming. The fact that they still adhere firmly to their principles seems completely illogical.

The only explanation for this is that these people live shielded in the world of business and are compelled to secure profits. Without being able to think about the meaning of their actions. They are also very afraid of the market and beware of intervening there. But isn’t it the case that the market can easily handle accidental interventions such as banking crises or the considerable fluctuations in demand of up to 50% caused by the annual Christmals Shopping? Why should targeted interventions in the market cause irreversible damage?

The only way to solve this problem is to get in touch with influential business people or managers directly and try to loosen their mindsets and open their eyes to the fact that their principle of maximizing profits causes collateral damage, that is unethical and no longer justifiable.

The question, of course, is how to get in touch with these executives. As an individual, you certainly have no way of doing this. It might be different if you perform it in a group of 12 people – the magic number. Simple and sincere people who firmly believe in a good and just society.

You meet in a protected or private place. The manager is at the center of a circle, and can also feel like the main person here. There should be no political discussion, but the talks are only about ethical norms and Christian values.

Who has ideas or wants to participate?

Please send your ideas to 12@letusbe.one

The ecological footprint

We use resources to live. Air to breathe, water to drink, food to eat. Some don’t need much more than that, but others need much more resources. They need a lot of energy to heat their large house or they need lithium from Africa for the battery of their electric car. One leaves a small footprint and the other a large one. All people on earth leave an average footprint of 2.9 gha (global hectares). That means that the earth is not enough to compensate for resource consumption. We leave permanent damage that gets bigger and bigger.

But there is hope. The average footprint of Europe, North America and Australia combined is 7 gha. We could significantly reduce this without significantly affecting our prosperity.

Here you can calculate your own footprint:

https://www.footprintcalculator.org/

Intercessory prayers

Because of the urgency of climate protection, the preservation of creation, the reduction of injustice in the world and the clear message of Pope Francis, Christians should be addressed precisely and explicitly to live as Jesus Christ expects us to:

For example:

Lord God,

  • help us buy less
  • help us eat less meat,
  • help us not to be seduced by advertising,
  • help us turn off the light where it is not needed
  • help us to drive less by car and more by public transport.
  • Make us strong to speak to other people about their bad lifestyle.