Category Archives: Simple living

Kate Lawrence on media overconsumption

The Practical Peacemaker, by Kate Lawrence - coverKate Lawrence, author of The Practical Peacemaker: How Simple Living Makes Peace Possible (Lantern Books) was interviewed as part of the “Authors @ Douglas County Libraries” series. This is the third short excerpt from the interview, on media overconsumption and advertising, recently uploaded to YouTube. For more about the book see Kate’s blog.

Kate Lawrence on vegetarianism

Kate Lawrence, author of The Practical Peacemaker: How Simple Living Makes Peace Possible (Lantern Books) was interviewed as part of the “Authors @ Douglas County Libraries” series. I have recently uploaded the following short excerpt on vegetarianism from the interview to YouTube. For more about the book see Kate’s blog.

Earth Day Veganism

Environmentalism requires veganism. Livestock agriculture is hugely wasteful of natural resources, and is the leading cause of climate change. And this is not to mention the California drought, species extinction, and deforestation — all exacerbated by livestock agriculture, and all threatening the basis of human life on earth.

But this works the other way as well. Veganism implies radical environmentalism. That’s because consumers who drive gas-guzzling cars, live in huge houses, and buy lots of toys really are doing more than just depleting the earth’s resources; they are endangering all animals on earth. Continue reading

Degrowth and Veganism

"Degrowth" is something natural and beautiful

“Degrowth” is something natural and beautiful

How can we deal with climate change, let alone peak oil, water shortages, deforestation, and everything else — given that truly effective environmental action would probably stop the economy from growing and totally change everyone’s lifestyle?

Our whole economy depends on fossil fuels, and our livestock-centered agricultural system is pillaging the earth’s biosphere. Veganism is surely part of the needed approach here. Continue reading

Ignoring Food Choices — Once Again

Richard Heinberg, a prominent member of the Post-Carbon Institute, has issued a 10-point plan on “How to Shrink the Economy Without Crashing It.” He makes plenty of excellent points, but it contains a glaring omission: it (once again!) leaves out any discussion of food choices.

It’s distressing to see that advocates of reducing the human impact on the planet ignore the significance of our food choices. This was exactly the theme pursued by the recent documentary “Cowspiracy,” with which the Post-Carbon Institute (PCI) is perhaps unfamiliar. Without a change in food choices, how much shrinkage in the economy’s effects on the planet will we actually see? Continue reading

Methane (Again)

Harder than it looks

There’s bad news on the climate front.  Methane emissions are quite a bit worse than previously thought. A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science is now all over the internet and in the news. It shows that methane emissions are 50% greater than previous estimates from the Environmental Protection Agency.  It’s not only our consumptive lifestyle overall, but specifically meat consumption, which is the problem. Continue reading

The Fire Blog (continued)

Black Forest Fire, as seen from Colorado Springs, June 11 at 9:30 pm

Last year, I wrote a blog about the wildfires in Colorado. Wildfires were huge, and after the Waldo Canyon fire, President Obama came out to Colorado and gave a soothing speech. This year, we once again have wildfires burning in Colorado.

This year’s Black Forest fire, cause still unknown, was actually more destructive than last year’s Waldo Canyon fire. Yesterday, 19 firefighters were killed fighting a similar fire in Arizona. Maybe climate change has something to do with this?  Do you think? Continue reading

Passive House Politics Getting Complicated

The “passive house” concept is taking off.  This is a new way of building homes that reduces the energy required for their maintenance by an amazing 90% from the standard construction.  This way of constructing buildings is essential if we are to deal with such challenges as climate change and resource depletion. Continue reading

The Basic Income

We all understand the importance of eliminating mindless consumerism and learning to live more simply. But at the same time we face huge economic inequalities. If we truly all start to live simply, won’t this mean that we’ll be producing less, working less, and buying less? Won’t “simple living” and environmentalism hurt the economy and thus the poor as well? A lot of people are hung up with the idea of “green growth,” but we need to face the facts. If we started living simply, it would mean that economic output would decline. For the environment, and for the planet, this would be great news, as the planet is being pillaged for the sake of our consumer fancies; but in the meantime, won’t this hurt the poor? Continue reading

It’s the System

Earth Day, Denver 2010

I went to the Denver Earth Day fair in Civic Center park on Earth Day, mostly out of a sense of curiosity but also just to be a witness to whatever it is that the environmental movement can put forward. For anyone who understands the urgency of our situation, the event was obviously disappointing. The fair was rather small (I counted 27 different tables) though tolerably well attended.Greenpeace, probably the most radical group, was there.  They had a “photo petition” of people willing to say that they want to ban the slaughter of whales and have their picture taken holding one of several signs which they provide. Save the whales? Isn’t this where the environmental movement came in decades ago? Continue reading

Michael Pollan and the Inuit Diet

Michael Pollan

While promoting the excellent DVD Food, Inc. on Oprah on January 24, Michael Pollan made the following statement: “The Inuit in Greenland you were referring to [have a] 75% fat diet — no type II diabetes, no heart disease.”

The implication that the Inuit’s high-meat diet is healthful is almost certainly wrong. Continue reading

Bikes on the Sidewalks — why not?

Bicycles on Cherry Creek bike path

Confusing laws and confusing situations do not encourage more bicycle riders.  In Denver it is technically illegal to ride your bicycle on the sidewalk. You are supposed to ride your bicycle on a bike path or on the streets. Laws in different municipalities are quite different — Portland has a completely different situation.

In general, staying off sidewalks is a very good idea. Pedestrians need to have some protection, and because of driveways, riding a bicycle on a sidewalk is often much more dangerous than riding in the streetContinue reading

Vegetarians, Meet Peak Oil


Solar panels and collards

Vegetarians haven’t been much aware of peak oil, and I am continually annoyed at things like “The Vegetarian Travel Issue” in vegetarian magazines. Oil underlies our economy, including our food system. Peak oil means that we are entering a new era, the era of limits.

Peak oil is simple concept: it is the maximum rate of oil production. Our economy only works well when it’s expanding — and there are no cheap and easy substitutes for oil. Continue reading