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'Live Small, Use Less' 


We inhabit a closed system with finite natural resources called planet earth (Mailbox, April 7). This implies that there are limits to growth, and we are rapidly approaching the point of no return. As we move forward in our efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change, we are being called upon to be realistic in our problem-solving. We can no longer keep extracting resources from an already exhausted system. To ensure the survival of all species, the choices humans make will either maintain homeostasis for all or catapult the earth into overshoot.

In my estimation, every concept presented as a solution has embedded implications for increased extraction and imbalance in fragile ecosystems. We humans are living on borrowed time. Throughout history, our species has managed to colonize every habitable wildland that supports life-sustaining ecologies. In the process of our evolution, we have caused unprecedented species extinction. In our relentless drive to "grow the economy," we do the planet irreparable harm. And that is the conundrum. How do we reasonably provide for almost 8 billion humans without destroying the planet?

The solution for me is to live small, use less, making wise decisions about how and what we consume. I seldom read or hear about the idea of lowering our standard of living as a solution. What I primarily hear is talk about transitioning to renewables and green technology. The issue I have with this solution is that it creates more problems. To make that transition, we need to extract more resources to build the infrastructure supporting these systems. And that has the unintended consequence of both increased resource depletion and species extinction.

Living small slows down the impact we have on this tired earth. It means taking care of what we currently have, living within our means and pausing to think critically about the choices we make. We need to be transparent, asking ourselves, "Just because we can, should we?" A quote by Wendell Barry succinctly expresses how I feel in this moment of existential crisis: "To damage the earth is to damage your children."

Laura Madjedi, Kneeland

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