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Culture Change print magazine issues: 20  19  18  17  16  15  14  13  12  11  10  9  8  index

Pedal Power solutions to petroleum dependence and polluting vehicles: Arcata Library Bikes, Pedal Power Produce, and more!

CAOE - Committee Against Oil Exploration - stop offshore oil drilling to protect sensitive habitats and cut petroleum dependence.

Culture Change through music! The Depavers eco-rock!

Take our Pledge for Climate Protection and learn about the Global Warming Crisis Council.

SEI hometown action!
Arcata city council's proclamation against war on Iraq and Kyoto Protocol proclamation.

Overpopulation has become a reality.  Overpopulation Resources and News Tidbits

Sail Transport Network

Fact Sheets
Press Releases

Long Distance


Why Culture Change is Necessary and Underway

The "industrial world" is not only a group of nations, but a state of living amidst manufactured objects and altered landscapes. We are thus usually alienated from nature and fellow humans. Our environment is degraded in our eyes, but some still believe it is "progress" for nature to be tamed and turned into money and products that do not degrade harmlessly.

Most people have an opinion on how much pollution is tolerable, what effects flow from polluting, and what solutions should be implemented to save our health and our threatened climate. There is by no means any consensus of where we are and what must be done. Part of the problem is that we already have such an industrialized, heavily populated world (notably in the U.S.), that our options appear to be very limited.

Admittedly, we cannot simply walk away from mechanized, technological living that is so dependent on complex systems and devouring resources. One can do so individually, to a large degree. But masses of people have nowhere to go to gather food, hunt, or even farm, when everywhere we look the land is either fenced or paved. For these reasons peopleóignorant to start with, sadlyóare clinging to industrialism, although its future is severely limited at this rate. Even "greens" are calling for mostly technofixes and modest self-restraint that would only slow down a tiny bit the destruction of Earth as we know it (or used to know it).

Yes, people care more about protecting the environment than not so long ago. But a growing population of consumers cancels out the rising concern and all the conservation practiced by the responsible few. Additionally, even environmentally attuned folk are still polluting in a major way if they are consumers.

This is why a culture change is being brought about. It is being brought about by certain kinds of people and, even more so, by forces out of anyone's control. New ways of living and relating to one another as a society are underway and spreading. This promises to have a greater effect than mere environmentally sensitive consuming.

There are two main forces at work that have started to alter our way of life and have interfered with natural evolution in the biosphere. They are far more powerful than one thousand George W. Bushes. It is as if two freight trains are barreling toward each other on the same track. One is nature, in her rising destructive power and growing backlash having to do with climate change and the effects of species loss in the food change. The other is the economy with can be considered like a house of cards, with its dependency on growth and cheap energy which is running out.

"Toxic Chemicals Found in Salmon" was the front page headline in the Oregonian on August 31 of this year. Experts didnít know where the toxicity had come from. No one said, "your car and your boat." Much is made of an oil spill, but some famous spills donít represent in quantity more than a few minutes of ongoing petroleum consumption in the U.S.  Today's society essentially responds to this situation by saying, "Oh well, what else is new?"

Some regulations may be added which do not eliminate pollution (that accumulates all the while). Some new parking lots get catchment ponds for the poison runoff. Recycling our motor oil is much better than pouring it down a storm drain. But society is in denial regarding the onslaught of contamination destroying our water supplies. And instead of recognizing motor-vehicle exhaust and smog as deadly, our institutions focus on minor changes in emissions per vehicle. Getting out of our cars is never an officially approved or encouraged option, because too much money is made by the automobile and fuels trades.

The trouble with sweeping, new approaches that can drastically cut pollution, save energy and resources, and ease the strain on our health, is that people are insecure and fear change. One excuse to do nothing at all is that there is so much consumption continuing by a largely needy, overpopulated society. A paving moratorium, for example, represents an end to bulldozing and paving our farmland and wetlands. But it also means no more construction of Wal-Marts and McDonalds, which means jobs are threatened by a new approach sensitive to nature and that relies on forgotten means of mutual cooperation. Most people seem to either fear government or the idea of no government. But it is commonly agreed that government as we know it is not getting better for the people and the planet. 

People try to be content in this industrialized, inequitable society which is based on enforced control. The freedom to consume is all we have left, it seems. "Get in line" is what we hear from not just the policeman and schoolmasters, but from family members and friends who want to survive the only way they know how. Thinking independently and taking action seem to be forgotten concepts. This conveniences the status quo.

There is another way

Solutions abound and more can be found. In so doing, our values will change from materialistic and individualistic to sharing, cooperation, mutual support, and enhancing freedom and respect. The process has already begun and is unstoppable short of nuclear holocaust. Information and contacts must be spread faster.

The most we should expect from our efforts may be our contribution towards understanding reality and establishing mini models of sustainability for future use or reference. The transformation of modern culture to desired sustainability will not be free of massive upheaval, assuming the transformation can succeed.

Things will probably get much worse before they get better, which must be expected as the price we pay for greed and speed. Modern culture changed the world to the point of extinction, not just of modern culture itself, but of much of what we need to reestablish a way of living in balance with nature. We will all be forced to work with what we have, and the old ways will not work anymore. (They never did, except for the brutal and privileged.) Far older ways, essential for operating society during our two million years as a species until civilizationís excesses in relatively recent time, will be revived to the extent they are useful. Welcome to culture change.


Articles of interest:
Measuring and controlling the actions of governments 

Anti-globalization protest grows, with tangible results. 
WTO protests page

Tax fossil-fuel energy easily
by Peter Salonius 

UK leader calls War on Terror "bogus"

Argentina bleeds toward healing by Raul Riutor

The oil industry has plans for you: blow-back by Jan Lundberg

It's not a war for oil? by Adam Khan

How to create a pedestrian mall by Michelle Wallar

The Cuban bike revolution

How GM destroyed the U.S. rail system excerpts from the film "Taken for a Ride".

"Iraqi oil not enough for US: Last days of America?"

Depaving the world by Richard Register

Roadkill: Driving animals to their graves by Mark Matthew Braunstein

The Hydrogen fuel cell technofix: Spencer Abraham's hydrogen dream.


Ancient Forest Protection in Northern California. Forest defenders climb trees to save them.

Daniel Quinn's thoughts on this website.

A case study in unsustainable development is the ongoing crisis in Palestine and Israel.

Renewable and alternative energy information.

Conserving energy at home (Calif. Title 24)

Culture Change mailing address: P.O. Box 3387 , Santa Cruz , California 95063 USA
  Telephone 1-215-243-3144 (and fax)

Culture Change was founded by Sustainable Energy Institute (formerly Fossil Fuels Policy Action), a nonprofit torganization.