Must we all live like hippies in the woods to mkae a difference?”


So asks Joel Achenbach in WaPo’s Sunday Magazine cover story about "a band of idealists in the mountains of NOrth Carolina trying to build a low-energy lifestyle." Without electrical lines or water mains or flush toilets, Earthhaven Ecovillage.  What little energy they use is thanks to solar panels – enough to run a laptop or coffee grinder and some low-wattage light bulbs.  Their fossel fule usage – propane for cooking.  Tiny refrigerator, no freezer – esp when the leaves come on, not enough juice from the solar panels for it.  They’ve added solar panels and cut down some trees and unplugged the freezer.
1994.  Landscaping at Earthhaven: minimal, junky-looking.  Though a co-founder noted "If we’re going to make a place that’s going to inspire others, we’ve got to make it beautiful."  But if you weren’t on a mission to spread what you’roe doing, beauty would probably fall by the wayside.  GUY CUTTING DOWN TREES>  Trying to be sustainable, trying to feed themselves. Cleared to plant food, which one of the residents who did it called "ecological brutality."

Archbach convinced me I’m clueless about the industrial supply lines, the details about electrical grids and refineries and pipelines.  We’ve outsourced everything – growing and preparing what we eat and everything else relating to our sustenance.  We have the consciousness of small children – power comes from a switch on the wall, gas from a pump.

To make it more real, it takes almost one barrel of oil to fill up my car’s tank. My vintage refrigerator (7K watts a day.)  Use of central AC has doubled in last 30 years.   Appliances are more fuel efficient but we have so many MORE of them.  Greg checks the meter on his solar-powered batteries.  Tkaes a lot of energy to create ice.  Computers left on all the time – and lots more.
New homes of 4, 6, even 8,000 square feet.
Can we ever do with less?

Since most of our electricity comes from the burning of coal or natural gas, every bit of it we use means carbon going into the air.  Calculated his drive to the commune (450 miles) in his Accoird put 338o pounds of carbon into the air.
"It’s torment lkiving here sometimes – just torment."  Though the writer praises their culture of hard work and honesty.  Acknowledge cities are where the battle for energy efficiency has to be won.  Our culture of consumption, convenience and more of everything.  "We talk a good game about nature, even as we become more and more removed from it.  We’re all environmentalists these days buet cannot imagine life without paper towels and a microwave".

"I’d rather be fighting global warming."  No, I wouldn’t.