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Many of us do not need to hear any more warnings from the IPCC, David Attenborough or climate activists like Greta Thunberg. We have seen enough to be convinced that limitless economic growth and the globalization of high-consumption lifestyles have brought our planet's life-support systems to the brink of collapse.
In response to today's urgent ecological and social problems, we often hear calls from sustainability advocates about the need to "downshift" away from consumer lifestyles, to practice permaculture and to embrace simpler ways to live. When these movements scale up, the argument goes, we will "degrow" our economies to a sustainable scale.
Important - Analyses - Perspectives - Something - Conversation
Important though these analyses and perspectives are, they almost always leave something critical out of the conversation. There is a very powerful reason we are currently unable to move toward a simpler and sustainable society: the costs of securing access to land for housing often mean only the relatively affluent can afford such "green lifestyles."
In response to this problem, we offer some ideas to show how public land could be used for sustainable forms of community-led development.
Recognition - Need - System - Change - Societies
Recognition of the need for system change is growing. But those arguing for high-impact societies to downshift toward cultures of sustainable consumption need to acknowledge a fundamental problem more clearly: simply keeping a roof over our heads can demand an energy-intensive lifestyle and a dependence on market growth.
Why? Having to buy or rent a home in capitalist societies like Australia has huge implications for most of us. It affects what we do for work, how much we work, our need for a car, etc. And, if you can barely afford land or your own home, putting solar panels on the roof, working part-time or growing your own organic food all become very unlikely.
Need - Housing - People
In short, securing the basic need for housing is putting people in...
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