This is not a presentation about shopping or shipping

I am interested in green consumerism, so have selected a couple of sessions today to go to. At noon I stepped in to hear Bryan Welch "Seven Rules of Shopping for a Better World".

He opened with that was a typo, and the sign outside said "shipping", the program said "shopping" and it was about neither. He doesn’t seem to have a title for this presentation, then, but said there were three mountains we needed to climb as a species and had some ideas as to how we were going to get over them.

Bryan Welch

Bryan Welch

From the online program (which I didn’t look at until after the session): As publisher and editorial director, Welch leads Ogden Publications, a diversified magazine publishing and affinity marketing company focusing on sustainable and rural lifestyles.

He leads Mother Earth News and Utne Reader and all of those other mags.

He said our objectivity is what makes us human and pointed out what other species can look around and be aware of its own impact on its environment? How do we create a sustainable human future on this planet? Start with a vision of the kind of planet we want to live on, and then get excited.

  1. CONSERVATION – Conservation engages the human imagination. The imagination is the only fuel available to create a sustainable future.
    He said we have "destination fixation" – unlike a motorcycle rider who must focus on the exit of the curve with the tightening, humans are too focused on not crashing into the guard rail midway thru the curve, guaranteeing we are going to crash. I hope I got that analogy right because it was brilliant and my husband would have appreciated it, being a cycle and car nut.
    By paying too much attention to conservation we are not focusing far enough ahead , partly because of our ever expanding population. We need to assume conscious strategies for population control. Otherwise Nature will exert population control measures (famine, disease, natural disasters)
    It is here where I thought wow, this is why I am here in this room. Some people got up and left.
    As a conscious thinking self-aware species we are given the capacity to create birth control. Desertification and deforestation, both of which hit records quantities last year and will do so again this year, are symptoms of overpopulation.
    "We are arrogant to think we can direct another population how to live," They are also entitled to live as comfortably as they can just like we are.
    |He pointed out the obvious: we don’t want to know about all of the horrible things going on in this world. When we are finally forced to face something like famine, what do we do?  We send food. and this sustains  them for awhile, long enough to grow the population. It is a continuous problematic cycle. (I don’t think he is suggesting we don’t send aid and let people starve, however).
  2. POPULATION – He said we are in reach of a sustainable future if we are able to engage millions of imaginations to tinker with the problem. He reminded us the the pedal bike, the automobile and the airplane were all invented inside of a couple of decades. Why? Because so many people got fired up about it and tinkered with it and kept making improvements on it. There were so many people working on the problem, it was improved quickly.
    No one follows a pessimist. The only rationale state of mind is positive enthusiasm.
    The first step is making a step towards human consensus on where we are today – the TRUTH, the honest picture.
  3. ECONOMICS – Unfortunately we have no tools to create prosperity without population growth. House values go up because there are always more and more people who need to live in them.
    If we are going to form consensus, everyone needs to have a stake in a positive future.
    This is the part we have trouble with.
    He talked about micro loans and how they have an incredibly low default rate.
    People are motivated by the common good on an emotional level. Next we need to create action from emotion.
    He believes economic justice (raising everyone up to above the poverty line) automatically lowers the birth rate (e.g. China). He doubts Americans will succumb to an authoritarion dictate to control how many children they give birth to however.

I am really glad I ended up in this session accidentally. My husband and I made a conscious choice to not have children because of overpopulation issues. I appreciated the many thoughts Bryan Welch had along these lines and hope to be able to read more about positive ways we can take action to help overcome the three mountains he has identified as surmountable.

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