Take a break
You’ve learned where your food comes from. And you've learned where your stuff comes from. As a committed Transitioner, you’ve done your best to reconfigure your consumption habits, rethinking, reducing, reusing, recycling. If you must buy new, it’s local, sustainable, ethical.
If you’ve done those things, you’ve learned that there are things you can easily do without. But there are others that, for one reason or another, you cannot. If you are like me, you cannot do without information technology.
I know that there is a carbon/eco/slave footprint associated in greater or lesser degree with all the gear I own and the gadgets I might have desired in the before time. And if I didn’t know before, Sara’s post on Monday pointed out the huge amounts of electricity required to power the internet. But information technology in the form of iGadgets, interwebs, and everything in between is deeply embedded in the current economic system and our culture. And for activists of various description, these are essential tools for educating, organising, mobilising, and ultimately, changing “the system” such that one day the carbon/eco/slave footprint of coolio gadgetry is reduced to zero.
Shall we then treat our use of such technology with greater respect knowing that with its use we’re investing our “carbon budgets” and tolerating for the time being the “externalities” associated with its production for some greater purpose?
It’s hard to keep that thought in awareness as I wade through the mountains of email I must process just to keep up with the projects I’m on, share and edit documents in the “cloud”, scan the news, read the reports and blog posts, watch the documentaries, and do the myriad other things the magic of broadband affords. The seduction of the world, all its knowledge and distractions, are mere clicks away. I do take it for granted.
Obviously, we can’t do Transition without it. We’re in the midst of producing our second annual Local Entrepreneur Forum, which is coming up in just a few weeks, and we’ve got loads of people working on it linked by email and Google docs and Skype, each of us with our laptops and desktops, Facebook and Twitter accounts driving traffic to our webpage. In meetings, smart phones chirp. Isn’t that what it’s like to be a productive change agent in the 21st century? Is there an alternative?
At this point I am wondering if this post is worthy, written as it is on my laptop, uploaded to a webserver, displayed on your machine and all the negative impacts that implies. Perhaps the best way to end this post and this week’s topic is for all of us to take a break, eh? Reduce our technology impacts, at least for today? If you’re reading this now, take a break. Shut it down. Don’t worry, it will all be there when you come back. Shut it down and go outside.
Image: A real cloud.