Don Laughlin on our Environment

Following are a few excerpts from conversations with Don Laughlin, a life long environmentalist and Quaker, who died recently. 


I’m not really depressed over the state of the planet—I’ve just forced myself to face my view of reality which is that I am benefitting from what have become morally bankrupt socioeconomic and political systems.  I look to the example of my friends at the KI Eco Center as the hope for the future—leaving those corrupt institutions behind and moving ahead without them.  And there is great joy in doing that with them.




I applaud your efforts  to work with kids to help them become aware of what is happening to the planet.  Kudos to you.  (Note:  it is actually the KI kids who are teaching me.)

I so much agree with you. I’m living off the fat of a life and system and institutions that were not sustainable.  But I don’t give it up–I’m too much like the rich young farmer that Jesus told to go sell what he had and give to the poor.

But we each have to decide what the “simple” and “sustainable” life is.  I take some satisfaction in being able to talk from experience–not just theory–when I talk about renewable energy, electric cars, wind and solar.  As I look back I’m glad I have done it, not just talked about it.

Someday, your experience of living in the city without a car may be a great contribution.  I hope you are keeping notes on what it means and how it is done– advantages, disadvantages, compromises, etc–as you may be called upon to write about your excellent example.

It’s very hard to figure out what the future world will  look like. I’m sure some of the modern aspects will exist, but I’m sure we will have to use more human and animal labor to  accomplish our livelihood–rake our leaves instead of blow them–sail boats instead of motor boats–walking and biking instead of cars–on and on.

One of the thoughts I’ve had–increasingly so–is to envision what kind of a society we would have, in the short term, if we environmentalists were totally successful. Suppose the XL didn’t get built–suppose fracking was abandoned–suppose tar sands mining was abandoned. Obviously we would be in a major social upheaval. How would people in our Meeting, who live ten or more miles from any town get their necessary supplies–food, repairs, etc. Without fracking gas would become extremely expensive. Could we afford to heat our homes?

Sudden change won’t happen, of course, but we need to act as if it would. You made a very significant statement– We have to embrace inconvenience. We have to admit our privilege, and stop taking advantage of it–for a beginning. I find no one embracing inconvenience. Even retired people–who might have time on their hands–travel by flying “to save time.” When will we admit that climate change is, and will, change our standard of living?



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2 Responses to Don Laughlin on our Environment

  1. randy kisling says:

    Thanks for posting this Jeff.

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