Tag Archives: Environmental Issues

Critical Thinking

Don’t you think we’ve lost the capacity for critical thinking? For losing our discretion when it comes to making decisions… blindly following the strict rules and regulations?

Take for example, the simple yet controversial use of travel mugs. Controversial? Yes, controversial. Allow me to explain. Travel mugs are meant to lower your ecological footprint, making the use of paper cups obsolete… well that is the theory isn’t it. Well, I’ll have you know that I cannot finish the entire contents of my mug IF filled to the brim. So, I always ask for them, the wonderful people behind the counter, to only pour the equivalent of a small in my mug. However, I find myself figuratively scratching my head when they proceed to fill a paper cup first before pouring it into my mug. Heaven forbid they give me a drop too much or a drop too little. Kinda defeats the purpose of using one now doesn’t it. I’m happy to say that this doesn’t happen all the time as now I’m accustom to telling them to fill it half way instead.

Right, back to being a little bit more serious about critical thinking. It is really easy to take everything that bombards us on a daily basis at face value, not digging deeper into the context. Now I’m not going to lie, it’s an arduous task to sift through all the media broadcasts, but is it worth it when the credibility (or lack there of) behind the messages is uncovered? It’s just like thinking about the purpose of that travel mug before filling it with whatever beverage that the customer wants. It’s about using your judgment in estimating that small-sized amount and then asking the customer if that’s enough. It’s about using your intelligence, taking a step back, and processing our intricate world.

Now I could be wrong, so what do you think? Is critical thinking on the decline?


The Quote from a Dream

“We have the right to exist, but do we when we hinder others”

– Me, in a dream

Where do I even begin? What did I even mean “to exist”? Maybe the brief context behind this revelation is due.

I said this to a man who was having a conversation with someone else while a speaker was talking to the crowd. I was arguing with him about why he should be quiet. Then, he argued that we all have the right to exist, which brought me to retort with this quote. He smirked and fell silent.

Maybe I meant to exist in a space surrounded by others. If so, should we be in that space if we are “crab-bucketing” those said people? Hindering them, mentally or physically?

Or was I indirectly speaking about the collective and our right to exist on our humble host, the earth? We are indeed choking it, destroying parts of it like a virus. Sorry to splash you with the cold hard reality, but we are the most resourceful virus without the proper immune system to destroy us. That has been my mindset as of late, reflecting on the proper metaphor to describe humanity’s destructive nature.

The vagueness of this dream is stifling, however this quote leaves a gigantic abyss where you can fill with your own thoughts. To exist or not to exist while being a hindrance? That is the question.

Part 2: Educating the Masses

Disclaimer: Please be aware that citations were not used as most of the ideas were used from Part 14, more specifically the ideas of Michael K. Stone and Zenobia Barlow.

The post carbon world is almost upon us, am I right? … or have you learnt nothing from Part One?  Well it is, and like I said before, there is nothing we can do to stop it.  With the last post I talked about the sacrifices we will all face in this new era, but now I want to talk about how we, as a collective, have to inform ourselves and the others around us.  The problem is that not everyone will pick up books or essays, nor will research statistics on how our beloved earth is spiraling downwards.  We have our own personal and social problems that are being dealt with on a regular basis, so who really has the time?  However, part 14 of the book “The Post Carbon Reader: Managing the 21st Century’s Sustainability Crises” has come up with a solution and a pretty good one at that.  The book suggests that we start at the root of the community with the youth, as they really are the future. Instead of being confined to a stuffy classroom while learning about nature through textbooks, why not take a walk around the neighbourhood or go on hikes?  Being outdoors is abundant with more learning opportunities than one might think.  There needs to be an appreciation for nature instilled in the youth so that they can make conscientious decisions with the environmental impacts in mind.

“This generation will require leaders and citizens who can think ecologically, understand the interconnectedness of human and natural systems, and have the will, ability, and courage to act.” (©Stone and Barlow: pg. 410)

How can we ensure that this and the next generation develop this understanding?  Michael K. Stone and Zenobia Barlow, the authors of this segment, suggest that the current educational curriculum needs to be revised to incorporate a more eco-friendly outlook.  Unfortunately, there are a lot of cons that present themselves in the initial stages.  Most schools might not be able to afford the renovations required because it will be a costly endeavour.  Another obstacle are the notorious corporations that are at the forefront of supplying foods to schools; it will be hard to make the shift from soft drinks and chips to the healthier options that could be made available by neighbouring farms because these multi-billion dollar corporations have a stake in it. However, the long-term effects are just too beautiful and ideal to ignore.  Imagine a more sustainable community with greener buildings and facilities equipped with solar panels, lush gardens, and greenhouses nearby to house fruit and vegetable plants, all because of the collective’s cooperation.  More and more students will stick to local schools (community colleges), thus slowly reducing the use of cars as a form of transportation because of the need to commute.

So what is it about the youth that makes them so special?  Why the need to target them when we have adults in powerful places in local, provincial, and federal government bodies that could lobby against the use of chemicals, the over-use of resources, etc?  Well have you noticed that there is a noticeable difference in the youth’s mentality towards life versus the adult’s? The youth have a “Does it have to be this way?” attitude instead of “It is what it is” and it is because of this reason that they can make a world of difference. In Vermont, the Sustainable Schools Project (SSP) that was implemented in the ill-reputable Lawrence Barnes Elementary School turned that school into a shiny pearl.  The key element was that the students were imbued by the civic engagement created by this project.  Without that, this project would have failed.  The children needed to understand the human and natural systems and their interconnectedness, apply this to their surroundings, and then realize that they could make a difference.  This approach worked on so many levels as the children pointed out major flaws around the neighbourhood like poorly light parks and the lack of street signs.  As the authors stated, as a result, the children’s test scores and attendance increased.  SSP worked.

Now, I bet you might be asking where I am going with this and what does this have to do with the environment. Well I’m just about to get to it.  With this generation and the next realizing that they can make a difference by being engaged in their community, they can push for more environmentally friendly facilities that could boost their knowledge with the understanding that these new facilities would take into account the human and natural systems, almost like balancing the scales if you will.  Take for instance the installation of greenhouses on school property.  Both pupils and their teachers can learn hands on about plant growth and gardening while also having a source of fresh and organic foods readily available, thus reinforcing the benefits of an eco-friendly institution.  The new curriculum has to start integrating better conservation, recycling, and eco-friendly habits through hands on education of the children and teachers, which will then influence nearby institutions, and local governments.  We have to target the youth in order to make a successful transition, thus enabling them to survive in what seems to be, a completely different way of life that the Post Carbon Era will usher in.


Barlow Z. and Stone K. M. “The Post Carbon Reader: Managing the 21st Century’s Sustainability Crises”.  (part 14: pg 410 – 420). ©2010 by Post Carbon Institute. Watershed Media, California.

The Post Carbon Era (Part 1)

We know that there exists a destructive spiral that threatens our very existence on earth.  In fact, the very earth itself!  But, the countless statistics and endless information doesn’t quite stick, do they.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe that we detach ourselves from the ominous cloud that is resource depletion.  These all happen in third world countries, right?  This doesn’t affect us in the least, right?  WRONG!  I hate to say this, but it is happening in our very backyards with our flagrant and wasteful use of resources: Water is taken for granted and we drive from point A to B to C to Z without thinking of the consequences.  We don’t acknowledge the impending disaster and therefore we don’t care to prepare.  Reading this book, “The Post Carbon Reader: Managing the 21st Century’s Sustainability Crises”, was like a splash of ice-cold water on my face, a reminder that change is necessary!  Let me begin.

Our economy’s foundation is innovation and production, a response to the boom ignited by the industrial revolution.  Since then, the economy has built and built on top of it, the resulting structure to be quite sturdy.  That is, until now.  It has reached a plateau of sorts and is now on the decline.  The solution?  The economy needs to be restructured… easier said than done am I right?  The scary truth is that we are dependant on so many outside sources to get the basic necessities.  What is worse is that these sources are going to fail us soon.  One of the contributing authors, Chris Martinson, is the genius behind the Crash Course, “an online video seminar about our broken economic system, the crisis of our aging population, and peak oil” (Martinson: ©2010).  In his section of the book, he focuses on the problems we will face with food in the post carbon era.  As he points out, “most communities have, at most, a total of three to five day’s worth of food on hand at their local grocery stores and supermarkets” (Martinson: ©2010).  These regular food deliveries are dependant on trucks.  So what happens when that mode of transportation fails due to extreme weather or fuel shortage? … of which, by the way, is bound to happen.  What will happen during the cold canadian winter if we are ever cut off from supplies?  Our lack of self-sufficiency will be our downfall.  We need to solidify our now withering bond with the earth by growing our own food and relying on the surrounding environment to support ourselves.  It’s now about localization, not globalization.

However, restructuring means the destruction of the current structure.  Trust me that when I say destruction, I mean total annihilation.

“Just so you have a sense of the scope and the pace of these changes in our lives I should mention that in 2003 I was a VP at a Fortune 300 Company, forty-two years of age with three young children (the oldest was 9), living in a six-bedroom waterfront house, and by every conventional measure I had it all.  Today I no longer have that house, that job, or that life.  My “standard of living” is a fraction of what it formally was, but my quality of life has never been higher.  We live in a house with less than half the size of our former house, my beloved boat is gone, and we have a garden and chickens in the backyard.” – Chris Martinson

Obviously this cannot happen over night.  The key, as Martinson suggests, is to take baby steps towards becoming self-sufficient.  Start with the smallest possible thing you can do and slowly adapt in response to the pending crises.  These are the necessary sacrifices we will all have to take to live in the quickly approaching post carbon era and this hard dose of reality is very much needed.  This change will happen, there is no question about it.  But are we, as a collective, ready to absorb all this?  Are we ready to attempt at change?  What holds us back?  It’s the fear isn’t it.  The fear of leaving this “paradise” we have built on the foundations of oil consumption.  To go back would mean to leave everyone and everything, right?  Wrong again.  The idea of baby steps is to not severe ties from our carbon life.  It’s about making new connections and networks that will facilitate this healthy lifestyle change.  If we are to involve our community, we first must commit to the change.  As Martinson so eloquently puts it:

“It is up to each of us to inspire others by first inspiring ourselves”

We have the power, we just need to start.


Martinson, C. “The Post Carbon Reader: Managing the 21st Century’s Sustainability Crises.” (part 15: pg 429 – 441). ©2010 by Post Carbon Institute. Watershed Media, California.