Would 1950s Living Standards Save Us?

We're consuming way too much energy. By now people should start understanding that "shifting over to green power" is kind of a joke. So far the world hasn't really started transitioning at any meaningful scale. Yes, new solar and wind plants are built every day. There are however some problems we tend to ignore:

An in-depth 2021 study by Simon Michaux at the Geological Survey of Finland illustrated this inconvenient reality. It calculated that to replace a single coal-fired powered plant of average size producing seven terawatt-hours per year of energy would require the construction of 213 average sized solar farms or 87 wind turbine array facilities. Renewables just have to work harder.
The global economy currently operates 46,423 power stations running on all types of energy, but mostly fossil fuels noted Michaux. To green the sector up and still keep the lights on will require the construction of 221,594 new power plants within the next 30 years.

But what are our options? This same article reaches a conclusion I've seen echoed a lot in the past few years. They call it "an economic retreat":

An economic retreat means shrinking fossil fuel spending by at least one third, which means the end of economic growth. (One recent study suggested high income states probably need to cut their resource use by 70 per cent.)
So what does shrinkage look like? It means returning to standards of living prevalent in the 1960s and 1950s. It means deglobalization. It means slow living instead of fast consumption. It means walking instead of flying. It means more people growing food on smaller plots. It means relocalizing life. It means making changes most of us are not yet willing to talk about, let alone make.

"Inflation, Scarcity and the Road to Survival"

That last sentence irks me a little. Quite a few of us, not most but at least a sizeable portion, are willing to make these concesisons. We just don't know how, and the economical system and societal structure doesn't really help us either.

What is slow living, for example? What is fast living? I've seen these terms thrown about and I've even embraced them myself but I also understand that I don't really know what they mean. Will it help the planet noticably if I only respond to texts once a day? How fast is fast consumption? Is buying a winter jacket every year (even if the old one is broken) fast?

Today it's quite hard to even find clothes that can be fixed. Polyester and stretch materials aren't really meant to be patched.

About growing food on smaller plots... I'd love to, but I don't know how or even how much time it would consume. And I guess I'd have to relocalise to somewhere less central, which would mean a lot more daily travel. I'm not sure it helps, honestly. Sure I can work from home, but schools would be far away.

But what most confuses me is probably the part about 1950/60s standard of living. I wasn't alive back then and don't really know what that was like. Was it the same here in Sweden as in the US? Are we talking about all facets of living, including healthcare?

I often feel frustrated and powerless in the face of catastrophic climate change. It's easy to be defeatist. I've been told that the best I can do is to be a role model and vote for the right party (no party is willing to take measures that may be uncomfortable to their voters, of course).

I don't even know how to be a role model. Lately I've become more lax in enforcing my own rules upon myself. I found that it only led to anxiety. What does it matter that I refuse to buy a new winter jacket even though my old one hardly keeps the heat anymore, when 400 delegates to the climate summit in Davos flew private jets to get there?

This turned into a quite exasperated rant. I guess I needed to vent my frustrations. Still, I'd love to live in a sustainable way myself. I just don't know what that really means, or if it's even possible for me to do.

-- CC0 Björn Wärmedal