ONE PLANET LIVING
We don't believe that humans are capable of killing all life on Earth, or that our actions and opinions are even minutely important on a cosmic scale. We know that everything dies in the end and that the last member of a species is no more or less important to itself than the first, but none of it helps. Despite our best efforts, we still can't watch footage of walruses falling down cliffs they're only on because of humans (Our Planet) without feeling sick, guilty and ashamed. We know that humans are just doing what every species is trying to do (successfully multiply) and that human societies are eusocial superorganisms that compete with each other according to rules determined by the most successful competitor, but it doesn't really help.
We still can't read about the Great Barrier Reef dying or the collapse of the tiger population etc. etc. without feeling vile and dirty. If you can, good luck to you. If you are also struggling, however, and accept the scientific consensus on the impact of Homo sapiens, what, if anything, are you doing about it? Changing a few light bulbs? Buying less plastic straws? Nothing at all? We'd love to live as if Planet Earth can supply unlimited resources forever, but it can't, and you can't solve this environmental crisis by recycling a few crisp packets.
One planet living is possible though. It's even supported in Wales by a planning policy that is as groundbreaking and inspirational as it is depressingly unique. It's a miracle it exists at all actually. It certainly wouldn't if it hadn't been for some extraordinarily brave and determined pioneers; people like Tony and Faith Wrench, Jane Davidson, James Shorten, Tao and Hoppi Wimbush and everybody else that somehow managed to get a capitalist government to support low-impact living.
If I'm truly honest, I actually wish I hadn't applied for permission to live this way though. I wish I was doing it as an act of rebellion. It doesn't seem right that low impact living requires permission from the very system responsible for making it necessary, but I did seek permission and the Welsh Government has found a way for people committed to big lifestyle changes and impact reductions to grant it.
For more information about the One Planet Development planning policy please visit www.oneplanetcouncil.org.uk. The council is a purely voluntary enterprise run by people with a million other things to do so please have a good look round the available resources before contacting them. They'll try to help if they can (as will we) but it may not happen instantly!
Please bear the following information in mind, however, because preparing the planning application for an OPD is a monumental task, the planning system is unbelievably slow (and still very biased against OPDs), objectors and councillors often wield considerable influence and we haven't got long to make the changes necessary to actually achieve something. Nine years after the planning policy was adopted for example, there are just a handful of OPDs in existence. This is absolutely miraculous, but nowhere near enough to really achieve anything. We need thousands and thousands of OPDs and we need them twenty years ago so those who want to live this way should probably consider just getting on with it.
It may be too late to make a real difference, but that probably makes things more urgent. We're not doomsday preppers, but there's no doubt we're better prepared than most to cope if 'business as usual' fails. To paraphrase the chinese: 'don't wait til your thirsty to start digging a well.'
Either way, here's a leading Wall Street banker from the 1920s to explain why you might find becoming a producer rather than a consumer a bit difficult (if this doesn't make you angry about your role in society I don't know what will):
"We must shift America [et al] from a needs- to a desires-culture. People must be trained to desire, to want new things, even before the old have been entirely consumed. [...] Man's desires must overshadow his needs."
(NB - We're nowhere near perfect, not by a long way. Our ecological footprint is fine but we still buy far too much stuff that we have to throw away (especially plastic bloody packaging) so I'm writing this for us as much as anybody else.)