10 06 10 Why Conserve Wade Wiebe

Why should we conserve in a time of prosperity? Really? Try to answer that question as though a child had asked it. Is it really necessary to conserve something that for now seems to be plentiful?

It seems to me that we have become accustomed to a consumptive lifestyle that gives very little thought to conserving anything. Yes, we may want a video game or a new gadget. Even if it is not within reach for a while, eventually we can get it. Even the poorest of the poor in our country can endure joblessness while still having access to food, water, shelter, and an education. Indeed, satisfaction of these basic needs is expected or even demanded by all of us. Beyond these, internet access, a decent cell phone plan and affordable gas are now solidly established in our list of things we must have.

Our society is so prosperous that the wealthiest among us can make over-processed, nutrient-poor food and make it affordable for all of us. Marketers promote bottled water by convincing us that drinking common tap water is akin to drinking from a toilet. They can cripple educators with political correctness and lobby governments for policies that bring us all to a lowest common denominator.

We have become used to our new-found prosperity. Suffice it to say that most of us would find it a hardship to live the same standard of life as that enjoyed by a medieval king. Would we be willing to suffer the indignity of a chamber pot, pay a fortune for an orange or listen to a single type of music (“Lute n' flute... again?”)?

So why, in this time of unparalleled prosperity, should we even entertain the thought of conservation? Right now we have enough water and cheap electricity, don’t we? Well, is there any point in conserving when you don’t have anything. Conservation must happen while we still have that option. If we wait until we have barely enough all choices will be painful.

To defend our current consumption levels, we must believe at least one of the following:

Our resources will last forever.

  • They will last long enough for me and nothing else matters.
  • They will last long enough to find more and then they will last forever.

  • It's not my problem. I deserve everything I have.
  • We are doomed anyway and I can’t stop that.

However, I believe that…

  • Our resources will not last forever.

  • They may last long enough for me, but not for my children.

  • They may last long enough to find more, but there will never be enough to satisfy us.

  • It is my problem and I share a duty to solve it.

  • We are not doomed. I can do something about it.

If your child were to ask you why we should conserve, could you face him or her with the answer you are living? Would you like to try?