"The net worth of the 225* richest people in the world now equals the combined income of the poorest 2.6 billion, who comprise 47 percent of the world's population." (UNDP's 1998 Human Development Report)     (* billionaires)

                                                    David MacClement's page:One (Or see My more recent page)

My own opinions, on this page.

         new item, end-July 2000

Respectable people's opinions
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my World View:

my Personal Actions:

__ I believe the human race passed a comfortably sustainable population in about 1950, at 2.5 Bn, but now there's twice as many of us, and three times as many in twenty years, with a most influential minority using FAR too much. The middle- class and rich have the wrong goals (largely induced by advertis- ing), if the world is to remain as civilised as it was between ' 55 and ' 77 (not incl. Stalin/Amin).
____ The >1 Bn car-using, meat- eating destructive people (CuMeDs) will need to drastically reduce both their consumption and what they do! Doing too much, while there are too many people, should be reduced since this is the origin of most of our excess consumption. Job- and- income- sharing would be a major step in the right direction.

__ I have reduced my demands on the Earth to a bare minimum by spending US$950 p.a. TOTAL; including no more than US$450 a year, or $8.65 per week, on food (all of it bought at the super- market). I pay for my share of the rates on our mortgage- free house, and I walk or (occasionally) take the bus, e.g. to buy the groceries. I walk barefoot year- round (@ lat. 37, maritime), wearing thongs/jandals if the road is rough or my pack is heavy. I haven't thrown out clothes for a couple of decades, and I'm now gradually using up that capital investment.
____ I am now free, from the boss's pressure to produce more and from "keeping up with the Jones's"! It's not exactly a religious decision, but it's based on some of the same basic impulses.

I'm not recommending others do this, though I am saying it's possible.         David MacClement

  • "sustainable living" search on:  
AltaVista - DejaNews - Dogpile - EuroFerret - EuroSeek - Excite - Google - GoTo - HotBot - Infind - Infoseek - Lycos - MetaCrawler - Netscape - Northern Light - WebCrawler - Yahoo      (opens in second browser window)

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What sustainability is, in my view.            Visualising a better Future

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A recent description of what I think of my life ;
       (in a new browser window)
and: our family travels in Malaysia and India;
      (what we learnt [new browser window] )

** On 27 July 2000, I took delivery of nearly NZ$14,000 worth of alternative energy equipment for our retirement house which will be entirely off the mains-power grid. It comprised 10  75 watt solar panels (SP75), a Victron 2000 inverter, a C-40 Solar controller, a Link-10 Battery Monitor with RS232 digital data connection, and 4 Espace AGM(gel 85Ah 12V) Batteries. Plus some very fat wires and odds and ends.
** I have saved for more than 6 years to reach this point; the gear (excepting the batteries) should last the rest of my life (~25 years).
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Here's a press release, having information I've wanted in the past. It contains:
A ... solar panel generates nine times as much energy as is needed to create it.
    Calculations included process energy used in cell and module manufacturing, as well as the energy used in producing both direct and indirect raw materials. Sources included measured energy consumption and detailed bills of materials. The data was used to measure the amount of energy required to make photovoltaic (solar electric) panels, i.e. the "energy payback time."

http://www.SiemensSolar.com/090600.html and http://www.SiemensSolar.com/Paybackstudy.pdf

New Study Shows Siemens Solar Panels Energy Payback Time Is Three Years

CAMARILLO, Calif., Sept. 6, 2000 -/E-Wire/-- Siemens Solar, one of the world's leading manufacturers of solar panels, presented research findings on the energy payback time for photovoltaic modules.
    Research was conducted by scientists from Energy and Environmental Economics, Inc. It is an empirical study that is complementary with other research that employs production modeling. This research contributes to the growing literature on net benefits of renewable energy systems. Crystalline silicon modules achieve an energy break-even in a little over three years.
    The researchers calculated the energy consumed in the manufacture of photovoltaic modules currently in production at Siemens Solar. Calculations included process energy, used in cell and module manufacturing as well as the energy used in producing both direct and indirect raw materials. Historical and directly measured data were employed in deriving process and embodied energy. Sources included utility bills, monthly production data, measured energy consumption, and detailed bills of materials. The data was used to measure the amount of energy required to make photovoltaic (solar electric) panels, i.e. the "energy payback time."
    Energy payback time depends on both the energy content and the installation details. The estimated break-even point is about three years, which means that over its lifetime, a Siemens Solar single-crystal panel generates nine times as much energy as is needed to create it.

About Siemens Solar:
Siemens Solar comprises Siemens Solar firms in Munich, Camarillo (CA), Singapore, Tokyo. Siemens Solar has to date supplied over 150 MW throughout the world, making it the leading company in the photovoltaics industry. Source: Siemens Solar -0- 09/06/2000

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New Zealand skyscape with two large windturbines at Trustpower's Tararua Windfarm In the mean time, we're using electric energy bought from Trustpower of Tauranga, who own more than 30 small-to-medium hydro-electric dams, and the Southern Hemisphere's largest windfarm, on top of the Tararua Ranges. With average windspeeds of 35 km/hr 85% of the time, the scheme's performance ranks among the best in the world in terms of load factor.

Tararua Windfarm Output for April 2000 to December 2000

The blue line, actual output, shows it is producing more than 11,300 MWh every month, on average.

So we feel our family isn't significantly adding to the excess greenhouse gases in our atmosphere, even now.

Earlier: http://csf.colorado.edu/mail/pfvs/mar98/0128.html   was:-

Letter to: Positive Futures, Voluntary Simplicity: Re: who I am

Fri, 13 Mar 1998 07:56:26 +1300
David MacClement (davd @ geocities.com)

At 14:41 10/03/98 -0700, Cheryl Day wrote:
> ... agreed even before we were married that we didn't want to work the rest
>of our lives. So we always lived on a small portion ...
>We now have a small income, sufficient for our needs, from our investments.
> ... some health problems, so our main concern in life is
>resting, eating well, and trying to regain some of our health back.
> ... for right now, we are kicking back, taking it easy, and enjoying life!

[David: ]
** I wasn't going to put in my response to Jan's "Who are you" because I started my most recent cutting-back in a fit of stubbornness near the beginning of five years of depression, and people on a list like this want to read about things where they can say to themselves: "I could do that too!"; I ask that no one try what I've done.

After I had raised all three of our children to the stage where they could take total responsibility for their own lives and it was no longer mine; ( I'm leaving my wife out of this description: I've gone my own way and supported myself even while living with the family, so I'm giving my own slant on this; see details in: davdsviewhowliv.html   ),
I felt I was free at last to "become a ghost: seen and recognised, but having no effect" on those around me or on the earth: my way of dealing with my depression.

I wanted also to see what was the absolute minimum spending needed by a city-dweller for subsistence; economic theory ( and that's all it is, in the macroscopic arena; it's useful in a controlled, bounded micro area like a corporation, but it's far over-simplified in relation to a complex network like a society); as I say: economics and the market assume that all "players" have the 'zero option' available all the time: not to buy, or not to sell. So  if   it's to have any application to people outside of a corporation, they have to have a guarantee of being supplied the minimum necessities for life: food, shelter (at the higher latitudes), and some clothing. The answer isn't 42, it's US$900, while sharing living in a paid-for cheap-to-run house and the rates.

The third thread in my life has been my awakening in 1972 to the increasing concern for the future of the world caused by the product (a mathematical term) of the number of people and their individual consumption. I realised while back-packing one of my sons twenty years ago when we were living in London Canada, (i) that there was a large excess of people in the world, so for an increasing number of individuals there is at least one other person able to do what that one was doing (leaving practicalities out of it), so no ordinary person needs to feel they are indispensible, for the first time in the history or pre-history of the human race!; and (ii) that do-ing less was a good thing, since resource consumption is involved in most of the things that people do.

(You can see why I was reluctant to put my oar in:   I've found it stops the conversation cold!)

I've realised only a few months ago [~Jan.'98] that I'm coming out of my depression, and in the last few weeks have found that my remaining son and daughter (who has just left to catch the bus to Auckland University) are indeed happy to live under the same roof with me - they buy their own stuff beyond sharing the 9 items I've eaten for the last 5+ years (mainly bread and cabbage). Bera left earlier to catch the 6:30 a.m. bus to her job lecturing in the Physics Dept. of the university.

So  I   think our family is living in a nearly sustainable way, suitable for an over-populated world.

Sorry for that blast.

David MacClement <d1v9d@bigfoot.com>

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Queensland (Australia) dumping its slops on
New Zealand:
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http://csf.colorado.edu/mail/deep-ecology/jun99/msg00056.html   is:-

Received: from edsac (p226-tnt4.akl.ihug.co.nz []) ...
Date: Sun, 06 Jun 1999 17:22:27 +1200
From: David MacClement <d1v9d@bigfoot.com>
In-Reply-To: <05163107220104@metro.net>
Message-Id: <>
To: Deep Ecology list

Subject: Re   The Deep Ecology Platform

At 21:57 4/06/99 -0700, Eric wrote:
 >In looking through the "Platform" (by Arne Naess and George Sessions) I 
>[thought] about how radically one would have to shift from current
>consumer lifestyles in order to follow these principles ... and that they 
>should not just be suggestions for behavior.  I haven't been hearing 
>a call for such radical changes on this list, so I thought I'd [comment].
>>                  The Deep Ecology Platform
>> 3. Humans have no right to reduce this richness and diversity
>> except to satisfy vital needs.
> ... questions:
>* Is it possible for humans (or any other species) to satisfy their vital
>needs without ever reducing the flourishing and diversity of others? 
** ".. possible ..":
          Yes.     I do, though this life is too harsh to be a model for others.

>* Does this require looking at things on a large scale or can it be applied
>at an individual level?
**  Both. The average is important on a planet-wide scale, multiplied by the total number. For a Poisson distribution (most members being not far above zero), the mean (=average) is quite low, which says that, to keep the average consumption from getting any higher, to say nothing about reducing it, one person at the-mean-of-the- uppermost-decile cutting back their consumption to (say) half what it was, would allow very large numbers of those below the population mean to increase theirs a tiny but significant (to them) amount.

>* What are "vital needs"?
**  That minimum required to stay alive as a functioning human. My: http://davd.tripod.com/dsmenu.html
    lists one set of food necessities, to which need be added: clothes plus sufficient shelter to avoid becoming moribund through exposure (and this does not include heated houses), companionship sufficient to lead away from suicide (we're talking of minimum or vital needs, here), and sufficient activity that one's body and spirit doesn't atrophy and succumb to entropy.

( see Betsy Barnum's expansion of the above list, at end of this letter.)

>* Are there any restrictions on the degree of reduction to the richness and
>diversity allowable when satisfying vital needs?
**  Good question for a deep ecology discussion. Since human activities' "richness and diversity" cannot be allowed to grow without limit it seems to me that other species (and whatever goes into 'richness and diversity' - don't forget microbes and biome types and sizes) could reasonably be limited to a similar degree.

>* Can anyone think of something they do that is not satisfying vital needs
>and does not reduce the richness and diversity in even a small way?  (I'm
>sure there are some, but there can't be many in our society.)
**  I take "there can't be many in our society" to be critical of this society.

**  Have to talk about my past and the future here; my present is dedicated to living at the minimum, i.e. vital needs only. I believe many of the things people used to do when human populations were tiny didn't noticeably decrease the world's richness and diversity. Even in recent decades, there are many sustainable activities: teaching and learning; the theater and 'acoustic' music-making; walking/hiking; sailing clinker-built boats (made using steam-box and copper nails); horse-riding; kite-flying; antique glider-flying (bungee-launched from a ridge) etc. As you might guess, I've done almost all of these, mostly in my youth in the '50s-'60s.

>* Do people on this list have a vision of a human society where we are able
>to abide by this principle?  (I do, but it's not something that most people
>are willing to accept.)
**  I have more than a vision of it, I remember it. Or nearly - some things we did then didn't fit the criterion. They'd have to be toned 'way down or eliminated. But generally, villages were stable, self-sufficient to a large degree, and people were willing to live within the limits of renewable supplies.

**  Living the way I grew up wouldn't "reduce this richness and diversity except to satisfy vital needs", but there's still the question of increasing it, returning it to what it was about 30,000 years ago.
    And what I've said really only applies to the 2.5 billion people in the world when I started secondary school. What I described is not possible for over 6 billion humans without reducing the average (material-&-energy) standard of living from that of New Zealand (& some parts of Nth. America) at about 1950, to that of (I'm guessing) country Thailanders* a decade or two ago. Quite pleasant, but much more limited, and without religion or a good philosophy it would be hard not to be resentful.

>> 6. .. changed ... basic economic, technological, and ideological
>> structures. The resulting state of affairs will be deeply different 
>> from the present.
**  This was obviously written by someone in an OECD country - it's certainly true for these. But that's what Naess and Sessions wanted to change, wasn't it?

>the Platform ... seems directed at human society in general
>and not to individuals.  Was this written for a specific purpose and not
>intended as a general statement of DE as a philosophy?  
**  I'm out of my depth here.
Without knowing anything about DE, I've come to my own view of how to live in a satisfying and DE-conforming way. I'm not living that way myself (I have another goal), but I know people (my wife is close to it: she lectures in Physics) who  do live that way right now. I'm sure there are at least tens of thousands in North America who also live this way.

David MacClement <d1v9d@bigfoot.com>

{*  Re: Thailand:

  Date: Mon, 04 Oct 1999 08:28:38 -0700
  To: David MacClement <d1v9d@bigfoot.com>
  From: Eric Storm 
  Subject: Re: Further Changes: Pt.1 of 2; 'sustainable'
David wrote:
> What was that: world average consumption today, in US$ ? ...
[Eric: ]
At one time you mentioned a guess for the "average" person being a Thai. In the book I mentioned (Material World, Peter Menzel 1994), with its 1994 statistics, it gives a ranking of "affluence" among UN member countries (183). Thailand is number 87; the closest to the middle of the examples in the book. The others that are even close to 91.5 are Mongolia at 80 and Albania at 103.
    Their per capita incomes are listed as: Thailand US$1,697; Mongolia US$1,820; Albania US$1,200. }

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At 13:12 6/06/99 -0500, Betsy Barnum wrote:
> ...
>Lots of people today might really define their cell phone or laptop, or even
>their Ford Expedition, as "vital needs," but I'd be willing to bet that in
>spite of the barrage of advertising, a lot of people do recognize these as
>luxuries ...
>Defining "vital needs" is a challenge, and I think there needs to be
>flexibility, not a rigid line drawn for everyone. Myself, I'd define as vital
>needs, in addition to the basic physical survival needs of food, water,
>shelter, warmth, rest and companionship, things like beauty, art, music,
>ritual and celebration. These will take different forms for different people.
>In former days as well as today, people create art in many ways, most of them
>using materials from the Earth such as clay, fiber, color, wood, rock. Music
>can require materials for instruments -- wood, hide, reed, strings of gut, and
>so on. It seems to me it is possible to use such materials sustainably. Human
>beings are creative creatures and the need to express oneself and to
>appreciate the creative expression of other beings (not just other humans) is
>intrinsic to our nature. Not having the opportunity to do that would, in my
>opinion, make life pretty close to not worth living.
> ...
>Betsy Barnum

Why I live so frugally (1997),

 & Linda's response (or 1 , or 2  resp., on my site.)

David's reason for existence


Our local paper Front Paged me, in 1992 (includes my 1992 photo)

My life and opinions ( 38kB)


Music, philosophy: unimportant?

  Romanticism ?

Am I like Diogenes?

"Values Game"; my results

Reducing The Number of People in The World,                          
or: How Billions can Commit Suicide, Without Actually Dying.{short letter}

Total costs under $900 p.a.?!: My diet, for minimum healthy eating (at under US$9/wk).

A letter (to Eric Storm) about: What are VITAL NEEDS? and my daily routine.

Marta picked up my budgetting advice.        

[return to top]

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satellite view: Australia-New Zealand   NZ spring weather: Oct.'99
Click for current (prev midday NZ time) full globe.        

Large satellite map of our part of the world, in vivid blue and green showing cloud heights.

Weather in NZ, for 5 days from 21 May. 2001.          

 Go to RainForest: David's Page
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