Originally posted on SCORAI listserv.

By the time SCORAI discussions like the most recent one peter out, when all is said and done, it appears that much more is said than done. The SCORAI acronym states “Research and Action”. As we contemplate the quantity of metals and minerals to “transition to sustainability”, where is the “action” of challenging our current fossil fuel powered growth paradigm by personally and collectively reducing our consumptive behaviors? How? Stop driving, flying. Downsize. Etc.

Prior to the Great Depression pre-1929, our US consumption of goods and services was less than 1/10th of what is is today. Various forms of evidence suggests our human well-being was no worse and possible higher pre-depression than it is today. With climate change tightening it’s grip through drought, fires, heat, famine, mass migration, loss of biodiversity, cooking the frog metaphor is increasingly apt.

As I have mentioned before on this listserv, I observe that many of us in the US, at least those who earn above $50K per year, and definitely those above $100K per year should likely be able to lower their household spending and environmental impact by 50%. As agreed previously, individual action by itself will not be satisfactory if our collective goal is to prevent annihilation of hundreds of millions, if not billions, of humans over the next century. But individual action matters.

Again, where is the ACTION in Sustainable Consumption Research and Action Initiative? If fifty percent cold-turkey is not possible, then ten percent reduction per year for ten years, the minimal entry point. Much of science and research involves measurement and procedural testing. How many people on this Research and Action listserv practice quantitative evaluation of their impacts followed by qualitative evaluations and behavior shifts?