Radical homemakers


Confucius said that the health of a nation could be determined by the integrity of its homes. If we apply that standard, we’re in trouble. Culturally, most Americans don’t even have homes anymore. They have houses, not homes. Homes are something that are made, not bought. And, homes, thus, require homemakers. That’s right, plural: homemakers. I'm not talking about just women. And, I'm not … [Read more...]

Reassessing Arctic oil


Shell Oil will discontinue drilling for oil off the coast of Alaska during the summer of 2013.  According to Marilyn Heiman, Director of the U.S. Arctic Program of Pew Trusts, “[Shell] had some safety and management challenges that I don’t think they had fully thought through.” Shell, along with every other oil company out there, has a lot to learn about drilling in the Arctic Ocean. I'm no … [Read more...]

Holidays as a benchmark


Another holiday season is behind us. As I reflect on mine, I get a strong sense that holidays can be seen as a sort of benchmark. We tend to remember certain traditions and how they played out throughout the years. On needles and pins Take the Christmas tree, for example. Let’s face it, there's nothing that can bring out the worst in any of us than the tree. Remember the year that the kids … [Read more...]

Visual guide to the cost of growth. Review: ENERGY


They say a picture is worth a thousand words. With that in mind, the 195 color, mostly full page — often double page — photographs in the Post Carbon Institute's* latest book, ENERGY: Overdevelopment and the Delusion of Endless Growth, speaks volumes beyond its gigantic sized pages about the energy and environmental predicament humanity is immersed in today. But while the book is heavy on … [Read more...]

Terrible tech toy tortures toddlers and tweens

Apptivity Monkey

We don't own a TV, so I don't see many ads. But since I love the NBC show Parenthood, I had to subscribe to HULU Plus to catch the show every week. There, I'm subjected to the every-eight-minutes commercial assault on our minds, dignity, and behavior so central to the TV "experience." This, HULU Plus calls "limited commercial interruption." I call it Hell. Ever since my HULU subscription … [Read more...]

Climate change: Obama needs to turn talk into action


Something's been troubling me ever since I listened to President Obama's first post-reëlection press conference. Perhaps as a result of Hurricane Sandy, the now two-term president was finally asked a question about global warming, a topic conveniently avoided by both sides throughout the seemingly interminable campaign. The question came from New York Times White House correspondent Mark … [Read more...]

A blanket on every chair

Beg Bicycles Blanket

Time was when Americans used to be frugal. We took great pride in not being wasteful, and taking nothing for granted. Perhaps our pioneering roots and turns into economic depression left a lasting impression on us concerning the relationship between effort and reward. Perhaps that alone caused us to consider more deeply the cost of things — whether with our own labor, or in paying for things … [Read more...]

Getting my pilot’s license

A Letterpress Bike

Ever since we first got together my husband and I have talked about how to respond to one of our key shared interests — peak oil. For us this means, first of all, a conservation-minded approach to life — using less energy, wasting less, and relying on reusable materials such as hankies and eco-cups, carrying our own grocery bags, and growing much of our own food and cooking it ourselves. But … [Read more...]

Degrowth offers alternative to global consumer culture

super sale sign

If everyone lived like the average American, according to the Global Footprint Network, the Earth could sustain only 1.7 billion people -- a quarter of today's population -- without undermining the planet's physical and biological systems. Over-consumption in industrialized societies and among developing world elites causes lasting environmental and human impacts. In his chapter, "The Path to … [Read more...]

The stealth president: When climate change is the issue


By January of next year, Barack Obama will have been president for four years. We'll know by then whether or not he’ll be president for an additional four years. Election years are frequently a time of taking stock – talking about where we’ve been, how far we’ve come, how far we have yet to go. When a subject becomes taboo, as climate change very nearly has, the matter of taking stock becomes … [Read more...]