As most readers of Regression have noticed, I’m not really on the environmentalist bandwagon. I reuse. I recycle. I conserve energy. I try to be a good citizen of the planet, but I also don’t buy into a lot of the hype in the media. I have no Eco-Guilt from speculating how my actions will affect the planet. Even though I speculate all of the time. “What if…” is one of my favourite thoughts! No wonder I like to write speculative fiction. Just for fun (and this is tongue in cheek!), I’ve speculated where Eco-Guilt could take us if we decided to let it. Eco-Guilt is the sense of self-loathing experienced by those who feel they are not doing enough to save the environment.
To minimize our ecological footprints (want to know how big yours is? Visit http://myfootprint.org/en/ ), here’s where the world could go…
Singles – would live together in dorms just like at University because that decreases the ecological footprint. Shared kitchens, bathrooms, etc. Shared vehicles or bus transport systems. Thus each person would consume a lot fewer resources in the construction of their residences.
Couples – those who have children, have ALL the children! Fewer resources are required for a family with six children compared to six families with one child.
Divorce is illegal – breaking one household and creating two households violates eco-law because then the country’s footprint gets increased. Unless they moved back into the singles residences, but if they had children they would have to stay together.
Eco-law would force you to live near your work – no, actually, you should live at it. Since the parents would all be busy raising the kids as their jobs, only singles would be performing other jobs and they would live in their dormitories on site. Because that makes the most sense from an environmental standpoint.
No pets. Since pets are a waste of resources from a global perspective, people won’t be allowed that indulgence to stop the diversion of resources.
All vehicles are the same models (I did go here in Evolussion), fuel efficient, small, and identical. This would minimize the need for parts production and storage, if all vehicles had the same batteries, wipers, seats, etc.
OK, I was being facetious up until this point. Although I could never see the things I describe above being enacted because it makes no sense from a human perspective, I actually do think it’s silly to not be able to use tires from car A on car B, nor to be able to interchange engine components. Same with cell phones and other electronic devices – would it not be a huge saving in ‘digital wastes’ if all of our cell phone models used the exact same charger, so when you replace your old phone, you don’t need to replace the charger? True, I am seeing more of that, but there is a long way to go.
If we really want to reduce our impact on the planet, we should be looking at ways to streamline our consumption. We will never successfully eliminate consumption (stopping cell phone use, computer use, automobile use, etc just is not going to happen), and so we should work to minimize the impact. All those non-interchangeable components for our phones, computers, etc…could we not just have one cable type that could plug into all devices? Yes, but then some companies would not make as much money off of their proprietary items. Think about yourself. How many useless chargers and connection cables are sitting in a drawer somewhere in your home? I spent an hour yesterday trying to find anything which would work with my portable DVD player for the car. If the actual plug was the right size, the voltage was off. If the voltage was right, the plug was too small or too large. I recognize that we have to have the right voltage for devices to work properly based upon their draw, but if one charger allowed multiple voltages and all devices used the same sized jack, then we would reduce a significant amount of waste. Think about what goes into each power supply – the plastic, wires, etc – and if they all were compatible we’d only need one or two (since your devices do not need to be charging all the time).
So, although the speculative world mentioned above is completely disagreeable on many levels, I do think if we really, truly wanted to reduce our consumption of resources, companies would be communicating with each other to create compatibility, rather than creating competing products (often at inflated prices) which give the impression they are making a dent in our human impact but are actually insignificant in the grand scheme of things.