Sunday, July 22, 2007

Alternative Lifestyles Can Reduce Global Warming

It's either "lifestyle changes" or "technology" that can be the solution to global warming.

Lifestyle changes, technology, or a little of both.

Nuclear power anyone? At least it's not fossil fuel. That's an example of "technology to the rescue." I'm not against this, but lifestyle changes are needed also.


When people think of "alternative lifestyles" they often think "the gay community." Actually, alternative is a much broader term than just gay people, but gay lifestyles can be part of the concept.

Alternative also means things that are different from mainstream. Things like "alternative transportation" rather than cars, or "alternative energy" rather than fossil fuels.

As for gay people, there is a great, but often missed opportunity to tie sexual politics with environmental politics.

The big issue of population growth is one of the connections.

Often the opportunity to make this tie is missed. It's missed, in part, because the orthodoxy in gay politics is to say, "we're family too."

It's true, many gay people do have kids and there's nothing wrong with that. It's just that gay relationships don't lead to procreation. Most of the kids are from previous marriages and there are also things like adoption. Much of the gay movement talks about being family and not really being that different from mainstream society. Even consumptive society.

Still, lower birth rates is an important part of the solution to global warming.

Another way to tie sexual politics and the environment has to do with neighborhood density.

Yes, in filling the towns and cities, rather than permitting sprawl to spread out across rural areas. This is a lifestyle issue also. For instance it seems like people cite their "families and kids" as the main reason why they can't live without their cars. Living in a denser environment tends to favor walking, bicycling and public transit over cars. Often people are most "car free" when they live in the dense inner neighborhoods of large cities. There is a big correlation between "neighborhood density" and success in making public transit a large percentage of trips.

It seems to be more than just a coincidence that the dense neighborhoods toward the heart of cities are often thought of as the "gay districts." For instance, "Capital Hill," in Seattle, or "The West End" in Vancouver, BC.

At the same time, one can see a lot of wealth and conspicuous consumption in these neighborhoods. Lots of big SUVs parked in condominium garages. On the surface, it might look like much of urban life is not into the environment. Also, people who can afford to live on this prime real estate will also be able to afford things like big cars.

Somehow, it seems like there are a lot of missed opportunities here.

A better connection could be made between the popular concepts of alternative lifestyle and the environment. Also dense neighborhoods could become more affordable, if more of them were built. For instance denser zoning in more areas.

Families can live in dense environments as well. It's just that in American culture, families tend to spread out to where there is yard space. In the denser city, "yard space" can be "the city park."

If we are to solve global warming, we really need to think in terms of alternative lifestyles. Alternative in a broad sense. This includes accepting gay culture, but it also goes way beyond just that. It means accepting change in many lifestyles. Also, a dose of new technology. Yes, we have to be able to accept change. Change can come in many forms.

People can be set in their ways, but people can also be innovative. The challenge is here and the future will tell if we are up to this task.

Short segment of a video with me talking about the need for Lifestyle Diversity.

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