I would love to eat organic food regularly, all the time. I just can’t afford it though. Let’s be real, more and more of us can barely afford to eat anyway, considering the massive inflation of food prices that has occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic. But organic food is still significantly higher in price. It always has been, and as all food increase in price, so do organic options.
The renewable energy option through our local utilities company give us the option of getting a portion of our electricity from windmills or other non-carbon sources in our state. It also costs extra money on top of our regular electricity bill. In tight economics times when we’re struggling to pay our bills, its all too easy, and justifiable, to see such costs as unaffordable luxuries, the first things in the budget to get cut.
I’d love to drive a green vehicle. Electric cars are the closest thing at that concept at the moment. That’s assuming, of course, that you aren’t charging your car with electricity created by burning coal. Electric cars are more expensive than gas cars to purchase, and possibly to fuel as well. Yes, that will likely change overtime, but that fact doesn’t help anyone to be able to afford an electric car today, tomorrow, or even in the next couple years. Most people in the world just can’t afford to buy an electric vehicle.
Of course, I’m not saying we all shouldn’t “go green” to the greatest extent possible for any given person. What I’m saying is that climate change is a global problem, and it’s a systemic problem. That means that if we don’t take a global approach to solving the crisis, then we’ll fail. If we don’t actually change the systems that are causing the crisis, then it doesn’t matter how many of us individually “go green.” It won’t be enough to pull the world back from the brink.
Just because individual action won’t move the needle on climate change doesn’t mean it has no value at all. But the high price tag of going green—not to mention the unrealistic expectations that we can all live up to the purity tests involved in focusing on individual solutions—is one reason why the spotlight solarpunk places on community values and collective solutions is so valuable. This is especially in our hyper-individualistic western culture.
The -punk suffix of the word ‘solarpunk’ implies an element of rebellion and resistance. A rebellion of one is doomed to failure. Even if that one were to become some kind of martyr and catalyst, it’s the inspired collective action following the spark that truly gets the job done. In fact, history has always been driven not by heroes, but rather by groups of mostly faceless masses working together behind the scenes to create the conditions that are needed for real progress to be made.
So let’s all go green, sure, to the greatest extent we are able. In the meantime, let’s be kind to other. Let’s not judge each other and tear each other down for our personal needs, choices, or life circumstances, which are so often out of our ability to directly control. Rather, let’s come together as a solarpunk community to create the systemic changes necessary to build a better world, one based on liberated communities that can work together in cooperation to turn the tide in the fight against climate change, white supremacy, and economic imperialism.
The time has come to demand utopia. But if we really mean it, then we have to demand it—and take it—collectively, not as islands of individuality floating alone in the rising and warming ocean.
Join us, and let’s build a solarpunk future together.
Justine Norton-Kertson (they/he/she) is the co-editor-in-chief of Solarpunk Magazine. They live in rural Oregon with his partner, puppies, cats, goats, and beehives. She can be found on Twitter @jankwrites.