Friday, February 4, 2011

We're Spoiled (and Stuck)

As folks scramble to cope with homes and schools that aren't warm, the suggestion that we pile on clothes and blankets instead of buying generators and installing other back-up heating devices has a certain appeal. I realize it's not an answer for everyone, especially those with less than perfect health, and it won't keep pipes from freezing.  I'm afraid I was kind of drawn to the governor of Pennsylvania's criticism of the cancelling of a professional football game due to weather ("you wimps") -- that he didn't think would have happened in certain other parts of the world.

"We're spoiled," says Virginia.  "We have to be able to run around naked indoors in the winter and fully clothed in the summertime."

I'm tempted to read "Air-Conditioning America" by Gail Cooper or "Cool Comfort: America's Romance with Air-Conditioning" by Marsha Ackerman, which I understand examine how HVAC technology transformed American expectations and the definition of comfort.  For most of time, humans have managed quite well without heated or cooled homes.  Now we've designed ourselves into them.  We're stuck.

One of these days, not today, I want to return to our obsession with growth.  For example, we refuse to invest in companies that don't present us with the expectation of above-average growth.  We view a country as a failure if its GDP doesn't grow as fast as those of other countries.  Inherent in this growth obsession is a tendency to get stuck -- in that we make it virtually impossible to return to a previous, perhaps more reasonable state, because it's "primitive" or too much like the life of "pioneers" -- and at the same time we also might be making the return inevitable because our lifestyle becomes unsustainable on Earth (i.e., a Catch-22).  I think a very serious paradigm shift is inevitable.

"I think you lied when you said 'one of these days, not today,'" says Virginia.  "It's still today."

All right.  Goodbye, folks.

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