OPINION — Reason magazine published an article last July that reported the findings of a team of European researchers, which was headed by Jefim Vogel, who is the sustainability researcher at the University of Leeds. I’m not sure where Leeds U. is located, but I’m guessing somewhere in Europe. Or maybe England. All I know is it’s not in Texas.
These fellows, according to Reason, have come up with some guidelines for how you, as an American citizen type person, are going to have to change your life, if you wish to save the planet from ‘catastrophic climate change.’ And who doesn’t want to save the planet? Well, except for Lex Luthor, Hitler, and people who drive Suburbans? Everybody else is supposed to care. So here are the new rules. You might want to cut this column out and stick it to your refrigerator with a magnet for future reference.
First off, you need to reduce your energy use by 90%. That’s not a typo. Ninety percent. Nine zero. Math is not my forte, but I think this means you’ve been using something like a thousand times as much power as you should be, you heartless wastrel. If I die of heat prostration next summer, it’s going to be your fault. Either that or the humidity.
Now, at first glance, you might think that’s asking too much. Well, buckle up, Buttercup, because that ain’t all. You will also have to limit your travel, all of it, to somewhere between 3,000 and 10,000 miles per year. That includes vacations, work travel, grocery collecting, taking your kids to school and back, and going to haircut appointments. Assuming you go out to have your hair cut. My wife cuts mine, what’s left of it, and I pay her by not trimming my toenails in the living room most of the time. You should probably consider a similar arrangement.
You will also need to live in 640 square feet, if you, personally, happen to be a family of four. That would allow each person to have 160 square feet to spread out in, or a space 10 feet by 6 feet. Most jail cells are larger than that but you’ll get used to it after a while. Or else you’ll all kill each other, which will also help the environment. So it works out either way.
Vogel and his cronies claim these requirements ‘provide sufficient need satisfaction’ for ‘ecologically sustainable levels of energy use.’ You might think you need more space, or more energy, or to travel farther, but that’s just because you’re selfish and greedy. Try to think of someone besides yourself for a change. According to Vogel you should be able to get by on 7,500 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, which is how much the average Bolivian uses. Of course, they ride donkeys and cook over wood fires, but you’ll get the hang of it after a while. Al Gore almost never uses more than that. In a day.
This is great news, with the looming climate crisis, uh, looming, but Leeds isn’t the only prestigious institution offering its assistance. The Taliban has also committed to fight the coming disaster. According to Newsweek, Abdul Qahar Balkhi, of the Taliban Cultural Commission, recently stated, ‘We believe the world has a unique opportunity of rapprochement and coming together to tackle the challenges not only facing us but the entire humanity. These challenges ranging from world security and climate change need the collective efforts of all.’ I guess shooting Christians and stoning little girls for going to school will keep us from running out of gas by next Arbor Day. Or something.
Lord Adair Turner, chairman of the UK energy Transitions Commission, threw in his two cents’ worth. He said if we reduce the population of the world, we might have a shot at not dying. Well, except for the people who have to die to reduce the planet’s population. Go on, be critical if you want, but every rose has a few thorns.
And the news is not all bad, anyway. Right now, while you’re reading this column, world leaders are meeting in Glasgow at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), to figure out how you and I can sacrifice to help the planet use less energy. These are some of the most august minds anywhere, so I’m thinking they’ll be able to come up with a plan that will work, despite the fact they’ve failed 25 times.
The good news is that not all of the 30,000 delegates traveled to Glasgow on private jets. The bad news is that, however they got there, they are each expending about as much energy to attend a two-week conference as the average American family uses in a year. I’m wondering if conference topics include the fact the Great Barrier Reef in Australia has lately been growing like Michael Moore in a donut shop, and the fact Antarctica has just experienced its coldest six months in recorded history. Probably not.
In other news, a Canadian climate activist with the Extinction Rebellion group recently glued herself to the pavement on a highway in Vancouver to protest climate change. She got arrested, sure, but you have to admit she caused a lot less damage to the planet that COP26.
And now she lives in a 160-square foot cell . . .
Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and minister who would love to hear from you if you don’t like this column. He reads your letters at parties. Write to him at [email protected]