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Homesteading and Livestock

Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.

Why I'm Optimistic

By Bryan Welch 

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Everybody knows the bad news: Conflicts between ideological, religious, tribal and political groups take innocent lives every day in nearly every nation across the planet. Wilderness and wildlife habitat are, on most continents, now limited to a few small parcels of land where our most photogenic species are preserved. That’s a shame. The oceans could be, in our lifetimes, fished out and our beautiful coral reefs are declining at unprecedented rates. Damn.

And, of course, Global warming threatens our very habitat.

Worse yet, our abuse of the planet is accelerating – so far.

So why do I feel proud of humanity? Why am I optimistic?

Because today, in the midst of so many pressing issues, I sense that we have started solving what may be, for our species or any species, the ultimate riddle. Millions of people are consciously making changes in their lives so that they will use less of the planet’s resources. That’s never happened before. This is the first time any living creature has confronted this problem.

Millions of people are taking it on by changing their buying habits. The Toyota Prius and other clean, fuel-efficient automobiles are selling so fast the manufacturers can’t keep up. Organic products are in every major supermarket, today, and huge mass-marketers like Wal-Mart are the largest distributors of organics, so it’s not an elitist phenomenon.

The richest man in China made his money selling solar panels. That’s right. Solar panels.

12/6/2009 3:31:13 PM

You know, everyone knocks Walmart as being the evil of all things and yet the Walmart I shop at was the first store in this area to install LED lights in the overhead fixtures, timer lights in the freezers so that the lights were only on when a sensor was triggered, the lights in the produce section and the meat sections are also on sensors so they are only on when someone trips the sensor. Walmart is only supplying a demand; Americans demand the right to consume in large quantities. That's the reason the day after Thanksgiving and these days, Thanksgiving day itself, are the biggest shopping days of the year with family members leaving the gatherings to go shopping. This is the American culture, shopping and spending money. It's all we're known for, especially in the tourist countries. Picking on Walmart and demanding that they stop importing this cheap stuff is not going to change American's habits; all it's going to do is mean that someone like Kmart, Sears, JC Penneys, Kohls or Target is going to fill the niche.

big c
12/4/2009 9:08:25 PM

Good article, but only one problem in this hypothesis. If you do a search in a proposed congressional bill hr 875 which basically bans the term "organic". It allows large "food" companies to corner the market and leaves small farms to deal with increased regulations.

4/27/2007 4:09:44 PM

It is a start, that's true. Hopefully these issues and their specific "solutions" will continue to get increasing coverage in mainstream media. I worry that the majority of consumers don't think much beyond what they see advertised most frequently. As to overcoming our us-versus-them instincts and learning how to live with each other, some level of selflessness seems a prerequisite. It takes some serious objectivity too, to comprehend the "greater good." Maybe you're right. Perhaps making these changes in response to the problems we've created will serve as a lesson in humility and selflessness. We can only hope it changes the way we relate to each other as well as to our planet. Thanks for the posts, keep them coming.