Humans did this

April 16, 2021

Do Nothing; Save the Planet

I watched yesterday’s budget committee meeting at the US senate (which you can find here). It was mildly interesting, and it left me with the impression that politicians plan on continuing to change nothing while we march toward extinction.

It’s worth reading the testimony of David Wallace-Wells, which is probably the closest we’ll get to a reality check in mainstream politics. Let me give you the short version: if we, as a species, continue on our current path of never ending growth for the sake of growth, we will likely experience a mass extinction event affecting all people on this planet. And that’s without considering the ongoing mass extinction that’s happening right now (have you noticed how all the insects are gone?).

One question they never properly answer in the hearing is: what can normal people do to prevent our own demise? Unfortunately there is no simple answer because we do not have a economic or political structure that incentivizes degrowth, and people need to make money so they can eat. However, the financial independence and early retirement (FIRE) community offers some pretty good advice that applies here.

The answer is simple: you can just do less. Consume less, buy less, spend less money, go fewer places, work less, and live as modestly as possible. The single biggest thing everyone can do is to stop participating in capitalism as much as possible, especially on the money spending part. Beyond survival, there’s a lot of unnecessary shit people spend money on, like air travel or driving around aimlessly, that can pretty much be 100% cut out of our lives. Degrowth starts with you not spending money.

The other nice effect of doing nothing is that you quickly begin accumulating wealth, as people over in r/financialindependence will happily explain. While this isn’t sustainable (the stock market Ponzi requires growth to continue going up), you can perhaps take some time to learn to grow potatoes and make yourself more self-sufficient before mass global food shortages become persistent.

© 2021 Brenden Matthews, some rights reserved.