This is an Opportunity
We are all aware of the current inflation situation. The financial press has spent months wondering if the inflation we are experiencing is short-term or a more insidious longer-term trend.
I have been, and still am, of the opinion that it is short-term and will ease in 2022, significantly. We are in a perfect storm of significant household savings due to the lockdown, pent up demand by those in lockdown, supply chain bottlenecks due to lockdown and lack of workers and underneath all of it, a time of unparalleled disruption.
We have also been paying a lot more at the gas pump to fill up our Internal Combustion Engine [ICE] vehicles. All the news stories I have read or watched speak to oil and gasoline supply issues due to the consequences of extreme weather as being one of supply and demand. As one TV newscaster said the other night “ we don’t know when demand will go down”.
So what is the opportunity?
Back in 2008 when the Great Recession hit, I wrote a column forecasting that it would be a “green recession”. What I suggested was that the rapid contraction of economic activity would result in less Greenhouse Gas Emissions, and a decline in consumption. This proved to be true. The level of GHG emissions declined for a number of years after 2008, almost a decade.
Remember the spring lockdown of 2020? Of course you do. Well, with some 3-4 billion people doing some type of self-quarantining at the same time resulted in much cleaner air globally, clearer water and plants grew more due to less pollution and smog. When we stopped our full participation in the Carbon Combustion Complex, the environment thrived. This proved beyond a shadow of doubt that living in a growth economy powered by fossil fuels was, indeed, a cause of the ecological degradation we have seen in the last decade.
So here we are with lots of stuff not available, and much of the stuff that is available, is more expensive than a year ago. In addition, the pressure on these high gas prices is due purely to demand.
What can we do to turn what is being reported as a problem into a collaborative success story?
We can simply decide that we don’t need what we can’t get due to the dynamics of the perfect storm described at the top of this column. Keep the money in the bank. Don’t you have enough stuff already?
We can decide that we won’t pay high prices and will buy things that have not gone up so much in price, or just buy less, except for food and medicine. By the time that the prices come back down, and all the supply-chain bottlenecks have been solved, we all might find that we have broken the habit of buying these things. Then the price will go down even more [supply and demand and we are the demand, or lack thereof].
As far as the high price of gasoline, we all need to think differently about the consequences of our actions. We have all been in stop and go traffic and have been frustrated. Our minds naturally blame all those other cars as being the problem traffic. We don’t immediately realize that we are the traffic, that we are the problem. Its’ all those other people..
Well, let us see if we can all make a concerted effort to drive less, drive smarter, drive the car with the best MPG and get all that we know to do so as well. If we are the demand, let’s lessen it. It is up to us in a most simple manner. [I have a picture on my phone of a gas station with a $1.73.9 per gallon price during lockdown]. This is easy for me to say as I work from home. Even if you don’t you can simply drive more intelligently, and less. Ease the demand for gas.
As the Pogo cartoon points out, we are the problem. This is obviously the case with the climate crisis as I wrote here on Medium.
In “Moving to a Finite Earth Economy – Crew Manual” co-authored Bob Leonard and published in 2019, we wrote at length about the need to both get off of fossil fuels and to dramatically lessen our consumption. We stated that we needed to move from mindless, impulsive, habitual consumption to living a life of “conscious non-consumption”.
We have in our hands, a situation that we can control. We can control inflation in many areas of our lives by simply not buying stuff. Wait for it to get marked down, or don’t even buy it when it is. We can be much more mindful when we drive. We can feel a minor triumph when we don’t buy something or don’t drive somewhere. If enough of us take this on, we have the ability to influence the outcome. We are the demand. Together we can be the non-demand.
The other story the consumption economy is feeding us now is that with all the supply chain issues, we need to buy our Christmas presents now as we might not be able to get them if we wait. Trigger that habit of “got to have” “need to buy now” Stop the addiction and just say “NO!” For once, for the first time, let us prove that we have the power. The power to simply not buy, to not drive and if we have to, to be much more conscious when we are doing it.
We vote with our money. We buy EVs we are voting for cleaner air. We buy products that have been or will be a part of upcycling we are voting for less waste and landfills. We intentionally try to drive less, to spend less on gas this month than last month and less on gas next month than this month. We vote for lower demand and less pollution.
Make it a family project and educate your children and friends about how we can all live with less, drive less and be the lessening of demand. It could be both a beautiful thing and prepare us for what lies ahead. I have started to do this in earnest. Eat all the food I have in the cupboard and the refrigerators. Don’t buy any clothes, and certainly forget about Christmas in this time before Halloween.
Don’t care about supply chain issues and focus on what you can do to not spend at all.
Make the giving around the holidays be of human gifts, of cool items we have that might be cool new items for others. Give away nice things you own already. To someone else it is new. Be clear about your intentions behind your actions
Try to break the addiction to buying needless stuff because it will lower prices and lessen negative impacts on Spaceship Earth. We are the non-demand people and our numbers are growing every day.