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“Just as the pain of an artist can lead to brilliant creativity so too can the pain of the world lead us to a brighter future if we can mix the courage of our convictions with a good dose of humility.” – Peter Charles Downey (director, composer, and activist)
Many of us think of ourselves as ‘environmentally responsible,’ yet we have no hesitation in jumping on board a 747 and clocking up serious frequent flier miles. Many people don’t realize that an international flight from Australia to London will offset 10 years of environmental initiatives (such as reducing consumption, driving less, buying a hybrid car or electric vehicle, using less power and water, composting all your scrap materials around the home, or living a communal lifestyle). Peter Charles Downey, a passionate documentary filmmaker – who has made films like Anima Mundi (the world soul) and Surviving Earth, to name a few – is a wonderful example of someone who has embedded his personal philosophy into his work and way of life. Peter is passionate about the environment and nature and has become a model of sustainability, showing us all what can be done once one realizes how we are all connected.
Peter demonstrates his strong connection to the environment and doesn’t use air transport to help facilitate his film projects, yet his films are high quality and look like they are produced with a substantial budget. He does, however, use his skill, initiative, and creativity to come up with professional looking productions. He demonstrates there are alternatives for making excellent low-budget documentary films with minimal environmental impact. Doing his own editing and filming, creating his own music, and framing shots in specific ways all helps to keep the cost of production down. Utilizing local talent and visiting professionals also aids in this endeavour. All of these skills are relevant to how we can live a more sustainable life. For many of us, the creativity and initiative to do more with less seems to have been lost.

Practice What You Preach

We all like to think of ourselves as environmentally conscious, but not everyone acts on and embeds those values into their life in the way that Peter does. Practicing what you preach is always much harder than we’d like to think it is. Being able to embed sustainable philosophy into one’s life is crucial to enacting positive change, and being conscious of our environmental footprint is part of the journey to establishing a lifestyle more in line with nature.  As a species we have become lazy and seek short term gratification through consumerism and hedonistic pursuits. We crave some form of activity and distraction, because we think this will bring us happiness. Yet these pursuits all come at a cost.

The Rebound Effect

Our self serving bias outweighs the need to act as stewards. On the one hand, we do something good to make a difference, and on the other hand, we offset the benefit of our actions by doing something selfish. After any effort to curb consumption it is important to be aware of the rebound effect. The “rebound effect” happens when any savings made through efficiency are offset by increased usage. For example, if you have a fuel efficient vehicle the temptation to drive more often and further will offset any efficiency savings you may have made by purchasing a less polluting vehicle.  This is what can happen to all of us, including many so-called environmentally aware citizens. We think by composting our garbage we will save the planet, but are happy to drive 10 miles to go get a burger, fries, and a case of beer. It makes no sense, yet few of us consciously think about our actions. We lack the ability to see the connections…

We Can’t Have Our Cake and Eat it Too

Cheap energy, conditioning, propaganda, and good marketing have conned people into pursuing lifestyles that only decades earlier were unimaginable.  We have been sold on decadent pleasures like we have been on buying the next techno gadgetry.  Our self-interested desires and search for our next fix, through materialism and other self-serving pursuits, has overridden our ability to look inwards and reflect on some of the marvels of the natural world which are all around us. Under the current paradigm, especially in the West, it is difficult to be completely neutral in our actions. Yet there are many people, such as Peter, or David Holgrem (whom co-originated permaculture) and his son Oliver, who are making positive RethinkcoverCE2contributions by living simply and giving their time, effort, and knowledge to others so they also have the tools to take positive action. These people are paving the way for us to expand our awareness.
Much of our ‘short-termism’ and self-interest is driven by our disconnection with nature, ourselves, and the planet. Peter’s documentary, Anima Mundi, is a wonderful depiction of this interconnectedness. It is only by understanding how connected and interconnected we are with the planet that we can truly move to a new paradigm. If we do not understand this connection and people choose self-interest then we are destined to experience the consequences as civilizations before us have. An oft-repeated phrase in permaculture is, “the problem is the solution.” It seems our disconnection from nature and lack of respect for it is the problem, maybe the solution is re-establishing our connection, gratitude, and respect for all life on the planet. Rediscovering our world soul may be our salvation.

Article by Andrew Martin, author of  Rethink…Your world, Your future. and One ~ A Survival Guide for the Future…

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Source: excerpts from Rethink…Your world, Your future.

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