Go RVing: The key to helping Mother Earth and finding happiness

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June 9, 2011

rvingBy Bob Difley

“You really do have to wonder whether a few years from now we’ll look back at the first decade of the 21st century — when food prices spiked, energy prices soared, world population surged, tornados plowed through cities, floods and droughts set records, populations were displaced and governments were threatened by the confluence of it all,” writes Thomas Friedman, the New York Times columnist, “and ask ourselves: What were we thinking? How did we not panic when the evidence was so obvious that we’d crossed some growth/climate/natural resource/population redlines all at once?”

Paul Gilding, an Australian environmentalist/entrepreneur, tries to answer that question in his book, “The Great Disruption: Why the Climate Crisis Will Bring On the End of Shopping and the Birth of a New World.” He points out this dilemma: “We’re currently caught in two loops: One is that more population growth and more global warming together are pushing up food prices; rising food prices cause political instability in the Middle East, which leads to higher oil prices, which leads to higher food prices, which leads to more instability. At the same time, improved productivity means fewer people are needed in every factory to produce more stuff. So if we want to have more jobs, we need more factories. More factories making more stuff make more global warming, and that is where the two loops meet.”

But do not despair, for there is a solution, according to China’s environment minister, Zhou Shengxian, who said recently, that we will realize that the consumer-driven growth model is broken and we have to move to a more happiness-driven growth model, based on people working less and owning less (my emphasis).

“How many people,” Gilding asks, “lie on their death bed and say, ‘I wish I had worked harder or built more shareholder value,’ and how many say, ‘I wish I had gone to more ballgames, read more books to my kids, taken more walks?’ To do that, you need a growth model based on giving people more time to enjoy life, but with less stuff.”

And that’s where I come in with my solution. It is as simple as it sounds, GO RVing. Adopting the RV lifestyle,we are doing our job in saving the earth simply by taking “more time to enjoy life.” Our RVs use fewer and lower quantities of natural resources to live in. But, even though we use a low mileage vehicle to live this lifestyle, we tend to drive shorter distances and stay in one place longer to explore rather than drive great distances everyday (except when you first purchase your wonderful new home-on-wheels and want to see it all NOW).

And we RVers also tend to pick fewer energy consuming activities, like hiking, bicycling, sight seeing, kayaking, and bird and wildlife watching than those who use airlines, hotels, theme parks, and cruises. The RV Lifestyle also forces us to use “less stuff” and that reduces waste, reduces energy used to make things that we would otherwise buy, and reduces our use of the resources needed to make that stuff.

So the bottom line is . . . by RVing you are actually helping out Mother Earth, and contributing to your “happiness” quotient. And that is a winning combination.  Happy travels.

Check out my website for more RVing tips and destinations and my ebooks, BOONDOCKING: Finding the Perfect Campsite on America’s Public Lands (now available in a Kindle version), Snowbird Guide to Boondocking in the Southwestern Deserts, and 111 Ways to Get the Biggest Bang out of your RV Lifestyle Dollar.

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13 comments

  1. Lew Larson

    Do any of you really understand how many times the earth has warmed and cooled? Have any of you studied historical geology? What we do has little effect on the climate. Now go back to work and make money and pay taxes because most people do not do neither. Signed, 68 year old full time Periodontist and former Marine Corps Viet Nam helicopter pilot.

  2. Hey Lew – If going back to work and making money and paying taxes makes you happy,by all means do it. For the rest of us who “do neither” that is what makes us happy. And smile. Isn’t that what shows off your work best. Happy travels.

  3. Bob, I have been thinking along your words. Been full-timing (no stick-built) for 2-years and wonder why I/we (me and the Mrs.) did not do this sooner. Aside from the smaller footprint on this planet the happiness factor is the cream.

  4. I think if you stand back for a second and really evaluate what “RVing” really means, you can break it down to two types. Those under the age of 65 that still work, pay taxes (just like those of us over 65 that did that our whole life) and enjoy weekend or the “two week vacation” in a RV. Then you have the over 65 and retired from the 9-5 routine that can take long extended trips or even become “full timers.” We have “paid our dues” and if, along the way, we made sure we really looked to the future of “retirement,” then we can indeed enjoy a RV life style that many others can not. Are there still people that will be on their death bed and say “I should have —-” You bet.” They think the definition of retirement is “sit in a chair and never have to do anything again. Just look out that same window in their house and never see a different view.” Not me. Also 68 & X Navy.

  5. Carson

    Unfortunately when I was younger I was busy working supporting my family. However, we took the time to go RVing with our family so we could have family time. Now that I reach retirement age I look forward to Rving with my wife and now Grandchildren. So the circle of life goes on.

  6. Carson

    I would like to add global warming has nothing to do with America depending on foreign oil we need to quit sending money overseas paying for something we have right here at home. God is in control of the climate etc. not man…

  7. joe

    Here’s an idea. Why don’t we let people decide for themselves?

    If someone wants to motor off into the woods and camp for a week enjoying nature, great.

    If someone else wants to spend the same week driving across the country following their favorite football team, or maybe the NASCAR circuit, more power to them. If someone want to spend the summer riding all the big roller coasters, or fishing Americas top 25 trout streams, let them have at it.

    In my experience, RVers are a much more diverse group than you describe. Let each have the freedom to choose their own paths (and oil consumption) and we can all be happy.

    Freedom = happiness. We don’t need some sort of ‘happiness driven growth model’

  8. Pat

    Another homerun article Bob! Merci beaucoup !

    Once again your comments help us to look at and focus on that which is most needful. The “birth, make money, die cycle” is a real killer. My wife and I find that the moment we climb into our truck and hit the road whatever stress we have seems to just flow away.

    Our house is on the market and though it may take some time we can’t wait until we are free of that responsibility. We also chose to retire early, on a little less, but knowing we have enough. Most of our friends don’t understand our new life style or why we didn’t work longer to get more money. But the “happiness life-is-too-short quotient” was too much of a draw. And finally, as a former member of the clergy, I saw too many of my parishioners, in addition to family and friends, (all of whom had the means) who waited until the last minute to make the most money only to get sick and die and never fulfilled their dreams.

    I am fully aware that way too many people do not have the opportunity to do what we are doing. But if there was less greed, less materialism, and more social awareness, there would be more than enough to go around for the entire world, not just North America.

  9. Thomas Becher

    Something is upsetting the weather cycle for sure. La nina, the dirt in the air because of exploding volcanos, the deliberate burning of oil wells and equipment, the burning of the oil floating on the surface during the excon/mobil fiasco in the gulf, the wild fires in AZ all contibute to the problem. But where I sit right now at one time there was over five miles of ice above my head. It wasn’t there before and it isn’t there now. Yes, the earth warmed and it will cool again and warm again. Life goes on and we adapt.We might be able to slightly influance the weather a little bit but I think nature has more to say about it than we do. We adapt, complain, and go about our business. When I was young, everybody burned coal in their furnaces, there were no catalytic converters on cars, diesels smoked and yet today we have a higher rate of asthma and copd then ever before. Maybe clean air is bad for you. Recently I became a volunteer for Habibat of Humanity building small homes. I am working on a 950 sq ft home right now and I think, why do I need the house I own at 2300 ft when this one does everything we need. And the Taxes will be affordable too. We are our own worst enemy.

  10. Thank you Bob for bringing this message to all of us. We the people have brought
    all of the weather changing things upon us. We have pollutted the air and now we are getting the results of our fouling up the air and weather.God made everything
    there is on earth, we as human beings fouled it all up. Our fragile enviorment has been compromised and slowly destroyed for ages and now it is slowly giving way to the all of our pollution. Just like everything else in this world, neglect it or ignor it and it will stop working. Greed to get more wealth from the earth is bringing our earth down on us. Big Companies are the biggest polluters and they get away with it

  11. Great ideas. Whether we humans really affect the weather or simply live with it, we should have enough respect for nature to try not to intentionally worsen or harm the environment. But that depends on people’s ‘awareness’. Some have it, some don’t! RVing is the perfect opportunity to find our “happiness” while living healthier, creating less harm to the earth, ending our ‘consumption’ cycles, and getting our priorities in order.

  12. Geoffrey Pruett

    While hand wringing about climate change and our part may improve the smell of the air in our cities even our best experts have had little effect on the weather. When mother nature decides you might as well enjoy the ride. Since we have been in a “honeymoon” period for weather in the temperate zones for centuries climate history shows cycles, not reversals, as normal. Fossils found deep in the sides of the Columbia Gorge are of swamp style plant matter, so far no remains of giant hot house construction so they are probably product of the existing climate. What we do with the resources we burn up may change the slope of the change but not the change itself. So for as long as there are Square Dances and Air Shows to attend we will continue turning those dinosours into motive power and enjoying the ride!

  13. Francis

    Yep, there are people who will care about what comes after and others who will grab every blessed thing they can get their hands on while they’re here and a whole long line of continuum between the two. The posts here illustrate that nicely I think.

    Anyone who claims climate change isn’t occurring is lying. Climate has *ALWAYS* changed as incontrovertible evidence from the last Ice Age proves. The question to ask is: Given that the climate is changing in ways most likely deleterious to civilization as we know it, is it reasonable to assume that the introduction of gaseous pollutants from human sources (at levels which in some cases are orders of magnitude greater than those from natural sources) is cause for concern?

    How anyone can answer anything, but “yes” to that question is beyond me, but … it really is a free country. That is not to say that humans are the sole cause of climate change because clearly they are not. They are, however, the only currently-known species with a snowball’s chance of doing anything about it. Is it prudent to claim that we are too insignificant to do anything about it and do nothing? Or might we have evolved these large brains for a reason beyond the selfish acquisition of things and stuff – what passes for “wealth” and “power”?

    Does one do what one is able to at least attempt to ameliorate the pace of the change and/or mitigate potential catastrophe or does one give up and continue blindly doing what one has always done because it is easy/less expensive/whatever? I think the answer is clear … difficult, but clear. It is beyond senseless to continue as if nothing is happening – either we give potential solutions our best shot or we give up. The giving up and letting future generations deal with our inaction is what I have a problem with. YMMV …