Here’s a relatively simple way to reduce your greenhouse emissions and unemployment at the same time. Hire a human.
We all know that the energy we consume in our daily lives is what causes global warming, the problem is that a low energy lifestyle looks pretty drab and miserable when stacked up beside our push-button, always-on world of convenience.
It is a lot easier to throw a frozen dinner in the microwave than to prepare dinner from freshly grown, organic ingredients, or to grab a packet of biscuits and bucket of dip on the way to a meeting, than to knock off an hour earlier to bake and make your own. We are trapped in a vicious cycle of earning money to pay for the convenience products that allow us to maintain our busy lifestyles.
If the alternative, though, is staying at home to bake our own bread, sprout our own mung beans and kill and prepare our own chickens, many of us are simply not prepared to make the transition.
Food is only the tip of the iceberg. The dish-washer, food processor, washing machine, vacuum cleaner and lawn mower all consume hundreds of kilowatts of energy to manufacture and more energy to run. The thought of chucking in these appliances and applying the elbow grease is not an appealing one.
The solution may be as simple as paying someone else to do it for you.
For the last one hundred and fifty years, machines have replaced humans because labour was expensive. Cheap, plentiful energy has made it more cost-effective to hire (or buy) a machine to do the job. In 1900, 75 per cent of work performed in the United States was done by muscle power. Horses pulled carriages and ploughs, men harvested crops, dug ditches and unloaded ships. Almost all domestic chores and food production was carried out by hand.
During the sixties, the phrase â€œuntouched by human handâ€ advertised food that was hygenic and scientifically produced. Today less than one percent of work is manual.
Now we move into an era where resources are limited and labour is plentiful.
The new slavery is a term coined to describe the global phenomenon of factories in the world’s megacities that employ millions of people on subsistence wages without any consideration of sick pay, retirement funds or opportunity to educate their children. When the worker collapses, they are simply thrown into the street and a new one is found. Their prospects are considerably worse than those of negroes captured in Africa and transported across the Atlantic two hundred years ago.
Even in the isolated, pampered world of suburban Australia, there are plenty of people under-employed and without sufficient resources to put a decent roof over their heads.
Do the numbers for your own family.
If you were to cut your food bill in half by buying only staple ingredients, stop paying for childcare and babysitters and employ a cook and carer instead, how much worse off would you be?
You could come home to a freshly cooked meal every night, with the washing already folded and put away. You might even have time to sit back and have fun with the family.
Given that the cost of manufactured goods and energy is going to keep rising rapidly for the foreseeable future, the numbers are only going to get better.
If you want to help solve the affordable accommodation crisis at the same time, you might start clearing out that spare room, now.