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Guest Opinion: Let's take steps to save the planet

  • (MICHAEL OSBUN / Tribune Media Services)

Wow! Talk about organic and close to home. I just finished reading “The Great Disruption” by Paul Gilding, who was CEO of Greenpeace for 20 years and is now a sustainability consultant to multinational companies.

In last Sunday's paper, there were four articles that related to this book: In “Contrarians' viewpoint,” Chris Martenson warned that in the worst-case scenario there will be “jarring financial chaos” and a steady decline in global living standards caused by unsustainable debt and the end of cheap oil; a Close to Home piece by Jane Vosburg (“Change begins with divesting in oil, gas”) said that to avoid global catastrophe we need to convert to sustainable energy sources; columnist Paul Krugman (“Failed policy wrought years of tragic waste”) focused on how a lack of government stimulation caused an economic slowdown and unnecessary unemployment; and an article (“Vote near on energy zoning changes”) on Sonoma County renewable energy development.

All of these articles touch on points covered in the book. Global warming caused by carbon dioxide is real, and it will eventually make our planet uninhabitable; “peak oil” will make fossil fuels so expensive it will collapse the world economy; the world's economy is fast using up the planet's resources; we need a new system that will provide for near full employment; we have to build communities that can function in an era of limits; and it will take geopolitical action to convert to sustainable energy sources.

Gilding argues that we have to change from a growth economy to a steady-state economy, which is not predicated on retail shopping. The reasoning goes that we will stop chasing our tails in the pursuit of more and more stuff and spend the extra time giving back to the community, thus creating a better quality of life. He says that studies show that this type of lifestyle will make us happier since we will have to work less and our creative free time will promote the positive evolution of mankind. The “contrarian” Adam Taggart feels the best place to be when this social upheaval happens is in Sebastopol.

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