Today begins month 8 of my apartment disconnected from the electric grid. I’d wondered what I’d do as the weather got colder and days shortened. Now I passed the winter solstice so days will lengthen. The weather will still cool for another few weeks, but I may have passed the hardest part.
It occurred to me I might just have to keep going for the year. We’ll see. It can get cold up there.
I’m still relying on my cheat of plugging my computer and phone at NYU, where I am now, but I’m also working on installing the panels permanently and finding other long-term solutions to avoid climbing thirty flights several times a week.
America can lead if everyone else stops making excuses and starts experimenting. But don’t wait for Americans if you’re not one.
Even if everyone stops polluting this moment, all the pollution we’ve produced so far means ocean levels and global temperatures will keep rising for centuries. Plastic will keep breaking into smaller plastic pieces entering your blood stream, killing wildlife for possible millennia.
But I don’t give up. There are levels of disaster, not just we all die or we all thrive. Every action you do can increase or reduce suffering of innocent people and wildlife. Yes, personal responsibility matters, not just collective action.
I believe 330 million Americans can reduce their pollution by 90 percent in under three years, which would improve their lives and propagate to huge side effects. With 90 percent less doof, SUVs, social media use, flying to vacations, and so on, there will be fewer container ships, extraction, and so on. Plus less anxiety, isolation, suicide, etc and more playing sports, creating art, spending time in person, and so on. We will replace more corner delis with farmers markets, more televisions with home gardens.
If you think it’s impossible for 330 million Americans to reduce so much so fast: admit it, you would have thought it impossible for one person. Now that you know I did it, you think it’s easier. That’s the value of role modeling. Everyone who pollutes more than me can reduce in absolute numbers far more.
If you thought impossible something that was possible once, you’re likely wrong about it scaling. Besides, I dropped 90 percent before disconnecting the apartment from the grid. I’m still dropping.
So instead of telling me I had advantages, make your own advantages. Help people with less than you. I’m doing it, instead of complaining, and they thank me.
Do you think it’s easier for me? Check your privilege.
Do you think I have advantages but it’s harder for you, for others, or for people less “privileged”? How insensitive. You’re privileged compared to most people on the planet so it should be easy for you too. So do what’s easy and helps change the system that disadvantages those it disadvantages.
I know that American and western culture sees personal responsibility like the wicked witch of the west views hot water, but you can still take personal responsibility for your actions. You’ll wish you started earlier.
Coincidence: Today begins my twelfth year daily burpees
Today in 2011, I started doing ten burpees a day for thirty days with a friend. It was a long time ago, but I remember thinking how the cost, at $0, and time, at a few minutes a day, made it work. I didn’t see a reason to stop, so I didn’t.
People typically ascribe to me some special or superhuman ability, as if it’s easier for me than for others. That’s insulting and nobody would say it about many other people’s achievements or tenacity. It also gets cause and effect backward. Like anyone who develops skills, I developed the skills from practice—practice anyone can do their equivalent of.
Nothing is stopping you
Absolutely nothing is stopping you from doing your equivalent.
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On initiative, leadership, the environment, and burpees