Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Investigating Simple lifestyle

Lasse Nordlund, Finland in one of the posters shared following in a gallery during 2nd Conference on Economic Degrowth for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity, Barcelona 26-29 March 2010.

I started my research on what I call "the simple lifestyle" at the end of 1980s. In my childhood I had wanted to become a scientist, but later I became aware how our lives within modern society affect other and the environment in countless ways. 100 years ago the pioneering atomic physicists were mostly pacifists who believed their work would serve the humankind. Yet when America dropped the atom bomb, many of them were close to suicide. I realized that as a scientist I would have little control overt the repercussions of my work.

Instead, I chose to minimize my harm towards others by taking a path of responsibility: to learn how to reproduce the basic necessities of life, which are delegated to others in contemporary society. If we specialize in a given profession it means that we only have a fragmented account of how we affect our environment. The other parts are in other hands. Within the modern world, it is impossible to live a responsible life.

Dependency and delegating responsibility to others are one and the same. The more people quit their manual work in primary production, the more machines took their part. On the one hand the use of machines and on the other hand the human working outside of agriculture made us reliant on fuel and resources we couldn't provide for ourselves.

As I moved toward establishing independence from such resources, I turned my attention to how humans can work for livelihood with simple hand tools or with extended use of technology, which increases input of energy. My theoretical results were entirely different from mainstream assessments that commonly espouse the benefits of any and all technological advances. The experience proved my theoretical conclusions.

In the beginning I presumed that if I were to combine contemporary knowledge and ancient facilities, it would be much easier for me to live in self-sufficiency than for people 200 years ago. Step by step I lost this view. Old ways might appear clumsy, but they are often more efficient than modern solutions. Engineers have developed more efficient ovens, devices and processes, but they have forgotten the Whole, which is not calculable.

My booklet "Foundations of our life" contains my reflections about human labour, money and energy from the self-sufficiency standpoint. It can be downloaded from here.

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