No Time to Lose: A Search for Work / Life Balance

In favour of a 21 hour work week by notimetolose
February 13, 2010, 6:16 pm
Filed under: ideas, news articles | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

As reported by BBC news…

Thanks, Monika!

Workers Of the World Relax, “The Jevons Paradox” by notimetolose
June 3, 2008, 1:56 pm
Filed under: environmentalism, videos | Tags: , , ,

“The principle of continuous growth which rule our economy have brought us here. But is there a different path?

What if we used our gains in productivity to slow down ? We could work less and produce less. It would also mean consuming less.

If you like the film please forward this website to a world that desperately needs some slowing down.”

Includes interviews with:

— Yves Cochet – Minister of environment, France (1997 – 2001); Author of Apocalypse pétrole
— William Rees Phd – Professor University Of British Columbia; 2007 receipient of the Trudeau Fellowship Prize; Co-author of Our Ecological Footprint
— George Monbiot – Journalist for the Guardian Newspaper; Author: Heat How to stop the planet burning; Visiting professor of planning at Oxford Brookes University; 1995 recipient of the United
Nations Global 500 Award for outstanding environmental achievement.
— John de Graaf – PBS film producer; Founder of Take Back Your Time; Co-author of Affluenza: The All consuming epidemic

Science Matters: Fast-forwarding through the hyper-real by notimetolose
March 14, 2008, 11:04 am
Filed under: environmentalism, news articles | Tags: , , , ,

Reposted from an email sent by the David Suzuki Foundation, March 14, 2008

Dear Friend:

Here’s your weekly Science Matters column by David Suzuki with Faisal Moola.

Last month, I attended a talk by former-UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair. I don’t agree with him on everything but he is an excellent speaker – animated, articulate, and thoughtful. After his talk, he answered questions thrown at him by former-New Brunswick Premier, Frank McKenna.

Mr. Blair delivered very insightful answers, as befitting a former political leader. But what impressed me the most was that he often took a few seconds before responding. And he occasionally paused to think during his responses. He didn’t deliver instant twenty second sound bytes that the media love. Instead, Mr. Blair considered each question seriously and answered appropriately.

It was a refreshing departure from the rapid-fire delivery we’ve grown accustomed to over the years. But perhaps it’s time we revisit this obsession with speed. Never before has there been a greater need for some heavy thinking before action.

We live in a time when we are assaulted by a cacophony of demands for attention. I watch my children navigate as they effortlessly download pop songs, watch snippets on YouTube, check out their friends on Facebook, tune in to missed university class lectures and chat away via the computer. Convenience, immediacy and brevity are striking features in this brave new world.

It also extends to their choices in entertainment. Young people spend hours amusing themselves with Playstations, Xboxes, and Wii video game consoles. In this electronic virtual world, it is increasingly difficult to distinguish between recordings of actual events and computer-generated images.

As players manipulate controls to “kick” an onscreen football or wage war against alien invaders, their shouts and body contortions suggest they are experiencing the heart thumping adrenalin rush of the real thing.

I think the experience these electronic games offer is even better than the real thing. In the virtual world, one can have the kinkiest sex without contracting sexually transmitted diseases, lose a gunfight and live to fight again, crash a car during a race and return in a brand new vehicle.

Television is no different. Programs also enhance reality by using a soundtrack to cue a specific emotion, or a sound effect to add some sparkle to a punch between stuntmen.

Of course, I’m describing fictional programs like action shows, sitcoms, and dramas that are meant to entertain. It had always been my conceit that the programs we did on The Nature of Things would present the wonders of nature so that people would fall in love with the rest of creation. But now I realize that in many ways, we too present a virtual world that is better than the real thing.

Let me take you behind the curtain for a moment: The producer or host of a segment on, say, Arctic polar bears, doesn’t spend months filming footage. We send a cameraman to gather as many fantastic shots as possible – a bear capturing a seal, two males fighting, a family breaking out of its icy den, etc. Once the filming is done, these sequences are edited together into a film that gives the impression that the Arctic is a flurry of activity. But that’s because we’ve edited out the most important aspect of this ecosystem: Time.

Nature needs time to reveal her secrets. And nature needs time to cleanse, replenish and renew herself. The Arctic. The Great Bear Rainforest. The Sahara Desert. The Amazon. The Great Barrier Reef. The Grand Canyon. All of these regions and ecosystems are unique because of the way biological diversity, wind, soil, water, and time have worked together for centuries.

But in television, we present a version of nature on steroids, a world full of adrenalin jolts per minute.

This is symptomatic of how much society has speeded up in our search for thrills. Nowadays, we expect everything to be instant and abundant. Without a sense of the important role that time plays in nature, humans expect the natural world to yield more, faster.

We look to our genetic engineers to breed bigger, faster growing trees, fish and grains which will enable us to carry on with practices that denude the mountains, empty the oceans and fill the atmosphere with planet-warming molecules. Without considering the role of time, we miss a crucial ingredient that has made these things what they are in the first place.

It’s time we reconsider the role of time in our decisions and our technologies. Maybe we all need to slow down, take time to read, think, exchange ideas and deliberate questions of who we are, where we come from, where we are heading and what life is all about. If not now, when?

Hurry up: slow down to save the Earth by notimetolose
February 29, 2008, 1:10 pm
Filed under: environmentalism | Tags: ,

Reposted from:

Hurry up: slow down to save the Earth
We can’t afford to burn so much energy trying to save time.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
by Albert Koehl

One thing is clear about Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s approach to the urgent problem of climate change: He is in no hurry.

He may be on to something.

In fact, if everyone slowed down we would more quickly reduce Canada’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Going about our lives in a hurry means using a lot of energy usually from fossil fuels like oil, natural gas, and coal. Burning these fuels releases stored carbon into the atmosphere as a heat-trapping gas.

On holidays, we rush to relax by loading up ATVs, Ski-Doos, powerboats, jet-skis and other energy-sucking machines.

Our transportation choices are generally motivated by the desire for speed. We choose cars for personal travel, just-in-time truck delivery systems for business, and airplanes for travel between cities, even nearby ones. As a result, more than one quarter of all Canadian GHG emissions are from motor vehicles.

Slower options are not popular. Walking to the transit stop, waving hello to neighbours, and taking a bus to work produces far fewer emissions than going by car. Cycling may take even longer but GHG emissions are zero. Taking a train between cities like Montreal and Toronto instead of a plane cuts emissions dramatically, as does delivering goods by train rather than truck.

When we get home, the race to save time continues. Leaf blowers, power mowers and clothes dryers get things done fast, at the expense of high energy use. In Ontario, the use of clothes dryers alone results in 700,000 tonnes of GHGs each year because much of the power comes from burning coal. The so-called phantom load constantly draws electricity so that appliances like TVs jump into action at the touch of a button and electronic displays announce the time — all the time.

Hanging clothes under the sun and exercising with a rake or push mower reduces power demand. The phantom load would disappear with simple manufacturing changes, or some power bars. And slowing down to adjust the thermostat on your way out the door can pay big GHG-reduction dividends.

Big business is in a big hurry too, especially to extract the country’s natural resources. There is, for example, such a rush to exploit the tar sands that we use absurd amounts of natural gas to coax oil out of the sand and upgrade it. We sell the product to Americans, who squander much of it on big, fast cars. The federal government prods the industry to go faster with $1.5 billion in tax breaks each year. (Even former Alberta premier Peter Lougheed has begun pushing for a “slow down” in tar sands development.)

Our daily lives are fast-moving but it’s on our holidays that the pace reaches break-neck speeds. We rush to relax by loading up ATVs, Ski-Doos, powerboats, jet-skis, and other energy-sucking machines behind or atop giant SUVs in a veritable emissions-making frenzy. Others escape the din by embarking on epic air (the fastest growing source of global GHG emissions) and cruise voyages to see it all, fast.

Longer vacations and shorter work weeks might help us slow down — a change in attitude would help more.

Perhaps our society’s most amazing achievement in its constant hurry is to have turned the awesome into the mundane, even the tragic. Traveling through the sky in winged machines is now often just a trip to be endured, not enjoyed. The marvel of massive quantities of oil created millions of years ago and left in the sand is fast becoming a legacy of toxic waste ponds, denuded landscapes, and poisoned air and water.

The irony is that when we slow down, everything might actually move a bit faster. American author Ivan Illich calculates that the total time North Americans devote to their cars (payments, repairs, traffic jams) means that we travel, on average, just a little faster than our ancient ancestors. It turns out our speed is mostly an illusion. Unfortunately, the climate danger is real.

By taking mass transit, or cycling and walking for shorter trips, for instance, we free up roadways from traffic congestion that costs our economy billions of dollars annually in delays.

There are ways to get us in the habit of slowing down.

First, ask yourself if you need to rush. Does the world really depend on me flying from Edmonton to Calgary to save a few hours instead of taking the bus? If you answer yes, get a second opinion.

Prime Minister Harper can lead by example. There is no need for him to jet to Toronto to tell us what can’t be done to comply with Kyoto. He can take the train. We can wait.

Second, encourage governments to use carbon taxes — taxes that depend on the amount of fossil fuels burned for specific activities — and road tolls to motivate people to choose less-polluting options.

Finally, spend a week slowing down to see if what you lose isn’t actually quite small compared to what you gain in the quality of your life, and the life around you.

It is, after all, just about time.

Albert Koehl is a lawyer with Ecojustice (formerly Sierra Legal), a Canadian environmental law organization.