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How To Kill Yourself, Your Country And Your Planet In A Few Easy Steps and Feel Good About It


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How To Kill Yourself, Your Country And Your Planet In A Few Easy Steps and Feel Good About It

  1. 1. How To Kill Yourself, Your Country And Your Planet In A Few Easy Steps and Feel Good About It piero scaruffi May 2011
  2. 2. From Luxury to Necessity <ul><li>Each new generation talks the right talk but doesn't realize it's not walking the right walk </li></ul><ul><li>The perennial cycle: the luxuries of the older generation becomes the necessities of the younger generation </li></ul>
  3. 3. Examples <ul><li>Previous generations (especially immigrants) never used a dryer. We are lost without a dryer. We use the dryer even in a hot summer day. </li></ul><ul><li>Previous generations were accustomed to getting a sandwich wrapped in a newspaper page. We expect a sandwich to be wrapped in several layers of paper and plastic. Many goods (especially food) come in cardboard boxes that contain plastic bags that contain aluminum foils that (finally) contain the food. </li></ul><ul><li>Previous generations used clothes to adjust to temperature (long pants, short pants, sweater, shirt). Today we can survive only in a very narrow range of temperatures: we expect a heater in winter and an air-conditioner in summer. Many people wear shirts in winter (rooms are too warm) and sweaters in summer (rooms are too cold). </li></ul>
  4. 4. Examples <ul><li>Previous generations were used to wildlife (including pests) coexisting with us. We call pest-control services if we find a bug in your home. Bugs in a house are often due to the surrounding vegetation, so more and more households simply bury all surrounding vegetation in concrete or asphalt. </li></ul><ul><li>Previous generations had fewer appliances (washing machine, refrigerator and television set). We &quot;need&quot; a lot more appliances to survive, from the toaster to the blender, and from the coffee maker to the rice cooker and even the paper shredder… </li></ul>
  5. 5. Examples <ul><li>Previous generations used every part of a piece of paper. We throw away a page that is printed only on one side. Then we buy post-its to take notes. </li></ul><ul><li>Previous generations used (a few) handkerchiefs. We use (thousands of) facial tissues. </li></ul><ul><li>Previous generations used cloth diapers. We use superabsorbent disposable diapers (invented in 1983). </li></ul>
  6. 6. Examples <ul><li>Previous generations stored food in wooden and metal containers. We store food in plastic tupperware. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Examples <ul><li>Previous generations would hold on to en electronic device for decades. You are expected to change your electronic gadgets almost every year: they are already &quot;old&quot; a few months after you bought them. Fads, not function, make you change your gadgets. </li></ul><ul><li>We expect plastic and paper bags at stores, plastic cups on the plane, etc. All of them are unnecessary (e.g., the soda cans served on planes are refrigerated, so you don't really need ice, and you would get more drink if they didn't serve it in a cup with ice). </li></ul>
  8. 8. Some Consequences <ul><li>You pay $5 for the sandwich, but the rest of the world has to pay another $5 for it... and you're the only one who eats it. </li></ul><ul><li>You live in a comfortable temperature range but cause devastating climate variations in poor countries and increase your country's demand for energy </li></ul>
  9. 9. Some Consequences <ul><li>You save your food for days but your tupperware is made in chemical factories and recycled in chemical factories (and may also pollute your body with deadly toxins) </li></ul><ul><li>You live in a bug-free home but contribute to deforestation </li></ul>
  10. 10. Some Consequences <ul><li>You suck a lot of energy, which means more coal, oil and uranium </li></ul><ul><li>You enjoy state-of-the-art gadgets but dump dangerous chemicals in the ocean and fund gang rapes and self-cannibalism in Congo </li></ul>
  11. 11. Some Consequences <ul><li>The average Western person uses about 40 kgs of tissue paper per year. That's about 24 million tons of paper for the West alone. Nobody recycles facial tissues after using them. </li></ul><ul><li>Claudia Thompson (&quot;Recycled Papers - The Essential Guide&quot;) estimates that it takes 24 trees to produce a ton of paper: one million trees are cut every year so that you can blow your nose with a tissue. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Some Consequences <ul><li>Disposable diapers (40 billion diapers per year in the West alone) generate 60 times more solid waste and use 20 times more raw materials (water, petroleum and wood) than cloth diapers, and will take about 250 years to decompose </li></ul>
  13. 13. But i drive fuel-efficient cars... <ul><li>You drive hybrid cars, but you also drive a lot more than peole in countries where carpooling and public transportation are commonplace </li></ul><ul><li>By driving more you contribute to traffic jams, and each traffic jam is a massive emission of gases </li></ul><ul><li>Increased traffic requires larger roads at the expense of nature </li></ul>
  14. 14. The Rule of Thumb (Dumb?) Of Wasting <ul><li>We choose the most comfortable habits that are compatible with our income (or even above our means) </li></ul>
  15. 15. A Pointless Suicide <ul><li>Most of our pollution is not even useful to provide services </li></ul><ul><li>Living in a narrow range of temperatures makes you more likely to get sick </li></ul><ul><li>Relying on so many gadgets makes you less capable of surviving in an emergency </li></ul><ul><li>Driving cars comes to the expense of walking and biking, i.e. exercising </li></ul>
  16. 16. A Pointless Suicide <ul><li>Peer pressure forces you to do things that you don't need to do </li></ul><ul><li>Marketing pressure makes you to buy things that you don’t need </li></ul><ul><li>A new “release” (of an operating system, of a wireless network, of a broadcasting system, etc) makes you replace things that still work </li></ul>
  17. 17. A Pointless Suicide <ul><li>These pressures define what is “cool”: why is it cool to replace old things with new things if the old things still do their job? </li></ul><ul><li>Because it helps the multinational corporations </li></ul>
  18. 18. A Pointless Suicide <ul><li>The revolution that we need: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The hippies and punks introduced the concept that you don’t need expensive clothes to be fashionable </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The oil crisis of the 1970s introduced the concept that you don’t need big cars to be fashionable </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>We need the same revolution for a lot more habits </li></ul></ul>
  19. 19. The Age of Plastic <ul><li>Plus: Plastic doesn't break, is cheaper than wood/glass/metal, lasts forever, … </li></ul><ul><li>Minus: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Plastic destroys the artisan culture of developing countries and make those countries (that don't have plastic factories) dependent on the rich countries that have plastic factories </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The poor countries don’t even have facilities to recycle plastic </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Rwanda bans plastic bags when you cross the border overland </li></ul></ul>
  20. 20. The Age of Plastic <ul><li>In 2009 the USA alone used over 39 billion plastic bottles of water.  That’s enough to stretch around the Earth over 190 times. </li></ul>
  21. 21. The Age of Plastic <ul><li>You can't solve a problem with the same thinking that caused it </li></ul><ul><li>Recycling employs an army of trucks and chemical factories </li></ul><ul><li>Recycling is a polluting process </li></ul><ul><li>Recycling is not the solution, just like heart surgery is not a solution: recycling is a sign that something is wrong </li></ul><ul><li>Recycling is becoming a good excuse to waste </li></ul>
  22. 22. It’s Not Only Plastic <ul><li>Clothes used to be fully made of organic material: cotton, wool, silk, indigo, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Most clothes sold today are made of synthetic materials and are colored with toxic substances </li></ul><ul><li>Modern clothes are not recyclable </li></ul><ul><li>Every time you buy a cool t-shirt you are buying poison too. Every time you throw away an old t-shirt you are dumping that poison somewhere. </li></ul>
  23. 23. The Water Footprint <ul><li>One glass of orange juice requires nearly 170 liters of water to produce </li></ul><ul><li>It takes an average 1000 liters of water to produce a liter of milk. </li></ul><ul><li>One pound of pork chops requires 2180 liters of water. </li></ul><ul><li>It costs about 9546 liters of water to produce just 1 pound of roasted coffee. </li></ul><ul><li>Nearly 30 trillion liters of water per year are required to supply tea to the world’s tea drinkers </li></ul>
  24. 24. The Water Footprint <ul><li>More and more people want orange juice, milk, tea and coffee (and lawns and swimming pools) </li></ul><ul><li>We’ll need to save water somewhere else </li></ul>
  25. 25. Reuse <ul><li>Reuse not recycle (the back page, handkerchief, any plastic bag/bottle) </li></ul>
  26. 26. Diligence <ul><li>Negligence is the number one enemy </li></ul><ul><li>In many office and residential buildings the A/C, the heat and/or the lights are left on all day/night just because utilities are included </li></ul>
  27. 27. Responsibility <ul><li>Collective behavior reduces personal responsibility for the things we do </li></ul><ul><li>We need collective responsibility to influence personal behavior </li></ul><ul><li>… and viceversa </li></ul>
  28. 28. The Economics of Wasting <ul><li>The problem is consumption. </li></ul><ul><li>Economies of scale need you to consume, and are indifferent to the consequences of over-consumption </li></ul><ul><li>Their business model does not include the cost of migrating to another planet! </li></ul>
  29. 29. Beyond the Environment <ul><li>This is not just about the environment. It is also about the financial crisis of the West. </li></ul><ul><li>There was plenty of affordable housing and there still is in the USA. It's just that US citizens don't want it. Just like they wouldn't buy a car without A/C no matter how cheap it is (their grandparents lived perfectly well with cars that did not have A/C). Just like a smartphone has become a necessity (their parents lived perfectly well with much cheaper land lines and their grandparents maybe without a phone altogether). </li></ul>
  30. 30. Beyond the Environment <ul><li>The root cause of the 2008 financial crisis was the confusion between necessity and luxury . </li></ul>
  31. 31. The Bottom (top?) Line <ul><li>The future is YOU </li></ul>your picture here