Happy New Year – Where’s the grief?

The primary question many of us (in our circle of people) are struggling with these days is how do we maintain sanity while facing the climate crisis and mass extinction head on?

ACTION.  Seriously.  It doesn’t matter whether our own reductions in consumption have an impact or not…we do it, because it feels right to us and helps us navigate our grief at the state of the planet and the existential threat to human civilization.   Action removes a sense of powerlessness.

As an aside, we both try to live more of a hope-free existence.  This means we avoid most of the dramatic energy sucking swings between hopeful and hopeless.  We are losing attachment to immediate results in the bigger picture.  What we actually get is a lot more resilience,,,meaning that we are more prepared physically and mentally for local and global impacts.  Radical acceptance…not easy.

Changing our cultural story, reducing our dependency on systems of harm (otherwise known as rape and pillage), and walking our talk fuels our activism in our community and at the council table.  Walking ones talk gives credibility.

SO…WHAT DOES THIS LOOK LIKE for two people that already live in a MUD house, compost all of our waste, collect rain water, grow 100% of our fruits and veggies year round, don’t fly, power our home with solar, sit as municipal politicians, wrote a book on compost toilets (buy here), design rain water systems, give workshops, and operate a permaculture perennial edible plant nursery???  Read on…

We are further motivated by the following:

  1. The recent IPCC report that states we have about 10 years to reduce emissions by about 50%, then 100% by 2050, AND massive carbon sequestration and ecological restoration required.
  2. The 6th mass extinction event we are causing with our collective Impact from Population growth, excessive Consumption, and damaging Technology. I=P x C x T
  3. The planetary tipping points that we are rapidly approaching. (These tipping points are somewhere between 1 and 2 deg C rise in global average temperatures…we may have already tipped into a point of no return!). Recent publication on Tipping points.   And another link here.
  4. Our recent ecological impact calculations shows us where we can easily improve to reduce our impact and increase our resilience.  See this calculator:  https://www.carbonfootprint.com/calculator.aspx
  5. We listened to these podcasts over the holidays.   CBC Radio 2050: Degrees of Change.    This podcast is based on impacts we can expect in BC in the year 2050 based on a middle of the road climate scenario (rcp 4.5) assuming we take meaningful action, but no where near the business as usual climate scenario (rcp 8.5).


Here’s our shared carbon footprint for 2018 (3.93 each).

Here’s our list of items for us to do for 2019:

  1. PROPANE:  Last year we used 380 litres of propane for cooking. This is 0.58 tonnes of CO2.  Our goal is to reduce this by 50%. We purchased an electric instant pot for $90 that can pressure cook beans, lentils, peas, and all kinds of stews very quickly. This means we can use the oven a LOT less. When we do use the oven we will make sure we cook a few things all at once. We are also going to get an electric insulated kettle for boiling water.
  2. IMPORTED FOOD:  We are going to buy less imported food.  Coffee: For starters we are going to wean ourselves off of coffee (we have purchased only fair trade, organic…but still). Coffee travels too far, displaces nature, and ours comes in those plastic packages or other high impact packages.  Coconut oil: We are going to use rendered pig fat from a local permaculture farm…maybe some day we will have our own pig.
  3. DAIRY:  Our local goat milk supply is almost dried up (only 1-2 litres per week). Gord has been drinking LOTS of organic cow store milk…almost 6 litres a week. That’s a LOT of plastic jugs and milk. Gord said he wants to dramatically reduce his milk consumption. We do hope to get more goats milk later this spring when production goes up. We eat very little cheese these days, but do hope to make a bit when we get more local goat’s milk.
  4. TRANSPORTATION: Our two vehicles (the old farm truck and the diesel Smart car), emit 3.46 tonnes of CO2e….and we drive less than most people. YIKES!!!!!  We have begun the process to find a way to get into an EV. One vehicle, probably a used leaf….but we will see.
  5. TEXTILES: No more fleece. Moving towards natural fibres. (wool, cotton, hemp). I was just gifted a few really nice long wool skirts from my neighbour.  We recently installed a micro plastic filter on our washing machine…this helps to collect the most of the micro plastic from entering our landscape via our grey water system. (Company in Nova Scotia sells a stainless steel mesh filter…easy to clean and install. Nothing disposable. Awesome company…you can order on line and then pay (mail a cheque) after you get it. Company based on trust. The filter isn’t perfect, but catches most.  ENVIRONMENTALENHANCEMENTS.COM
  6. HOME HEATING AND HOT WATER:  We use wood (in a wood gasifier), solar thermal, and solar PV for all the pumps etc. The 6.35 tonnes of firewood wood we burn is 0.45 tCO2. We are thinking about what we can do to improve this dependance on wood:  Four ideas:

1. an electric air/air heat pump in the living space
2. a small cookstove in the living space
3. a masonry heater in the living space
4. a tiny wood stove in the main living area (circle room)

All of the changes would result in amortized cost savings, more resilience, AND lower impacts overall.

For us doing more helps with our sanity dealing with the crisis. Plus it’s a challenge and we feel much more resilient not being so dependant on a system that creates such harm. There’s sanity in reducing impact. That’s the big motivator.

Happy New Years Everyone…Lets build local resilience together.  Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Ann and Gord

6 responses to “Happy New Year – Where’s the grief?

  1. Good work and best of luck to all. Bruce Witzel, on Victoria Lake near Port Alice

  2. Jan and Nelson Meadows

    What a wonderful New Year Gift to help others look at and evaluate their own foot print. You set such a wonderful example. It encourages us to be creative in evaluating our own situation. So uplifting! And yes it helps us move out of the grief, that needs to be acknowledged, Into Action. Thanks!!!! Jan and Nelson Meadows

  3. Ann and Gord, thank you for your on-going inspiration with your most recent posting – have been sharing your website link. Regards

  4. Have you ever published information on your wood gasifier, or do you have any resources you would recommend to learn about home scale gasifiers? Does it involve a wood chipper or are you able to burn the same sort of wood as in a wood stove?

    • Hi Steven, We have a “Wood Gun” gasifier and burn regular wood in it. There are a whole range of home scale gasifiers on the market. Sorry, I don’t not have current information…lots has changed since we purchased ours 11-12 years ago.

  5. For hot water, in my childhood, we used outside shower in the summer time. Simple construction with a black barrel on the top. It was near with vegetable garden, so we di watering at the same time.

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