Rick Dubrow’s “On The Level” Column in the Cascadia Weekly; Published 11-7-07
Feelin’ pretty cozy? Chances are you’re reading this column while inside a conditioned space. Space whose air temperature, at least, is managed by you or some other human. We typically move around, from conditioned space to conditioned space: our car, home or place of work. We’ll go outside and travel through unconditioned space in order to gain access to our next managed, conditioned cocoon. Comfort zone to comfort zone, minimizing discomfort while in transition.
Comfort drives so much of what we choose to do and where we choose to be, doesn’t it? And our choices typically disconnect us, to some degree, from nature. From outside. From unconditioned space. From the unintended consequences of our comfort.
What a bind we’re in! If the temperature of the room or car you’re in right now is derived from petroleum, then unconditioned space – mother nature – suffers some in order to furnish you with your conditioned space. Reminds me of a quotation I dare not put on our readerboard on Northwest Avenue: ‘plants and animals die to make room for your fat ass!’
The thing is, our physical, conditioned spaces condition our mental spaces as well. When you’re hangin’ out in a dark, dreary room free of plants and natural light, it sure is difficult to feel at one with the natural world! So the physical spaces within which we reside help determine the mental spaces within which we reside!
Ultimately, then, it’s important to pick our places carefully. Know that plants and animals will probably suffer to the degree your comfort is derived from environmentally-unfriendly products and processes. And know that your mental health will probably suffer to the degree that your built environment is derived from unnatural settings and a disconnection from nature.
I’ve often wondered why I’m so driven to be outside; to challenge my body; to have the skills and equipment to remain comfortable inside unconditioned space – outside conditioned space – in the wilderness. Attached and connected to nature, free of a conditioned cocoon. Simultaneously I am minimizing the environmental damage of my actions by not needing a cocoon or the comforting heat, and my mind is free to roam, unencumbered by the cognitive effects of being inside.
If you’re concerned about the state of our natural world, and you get this connection between your comfort and nature’s continued deterioration, then be very aware of how you achieve your comfort. Know the consequences of your actions.
It’s so very strange to think that achieving our comfort has created our environmental emergency. Unintended consequences. So choose the consequences you intend and then make them so. Get comfortable with solar energy and wind power; get comfortable with smaller spaces; get comfortable with wearing sweaters and down booties.
If we’re going to succeed in turning environmental degradation around and restoring healthy, unconditioned space, my comfort cannot be your emergency. Your comfort cannot be my emergency. There’s one planet; it’s one spaceship; we’re all crew.
There are no passengers.