"Ark-builders realize, however, that nothing is gained by creating refuges in one place, if we behave in a way that contributes to the despoiling of land somewhere else. If we're going to build arks, we should do everything we can to avoid swelling the flood. This means living more lightly. Since two-thirds of energy use in America goes for transportation, which also releases the bulk of our greenhouse gases, living lightly means, first of all, buying more fuel-efficient cars and driving them fewer miles; it means walking or bicycling whenever we can; it means flying less often and lobbying for passenger railway service. Since every item shipped to stores or to our front doors rides on petroleum, living lightly means buying as much as we can from local growers, makers, and merchants, instead of transnational corporations. It also means buying only what we need, avoiding fashions, learning to mend whatever we own and to make it last. It means seceding, so far as possible, from the global economy, which cares neither for the fate of the planet nor for the health of particular places.

"The ark-builders understand the link between consumption and devastation: the more we consume — of gasoline, junk food, clothing, containers, electronic toys — the more the planet must be mined, bulldozed, clear-cut, and paved. Recognizing this, the ark-builders don't identify themselves as consumers but as conservers. Their aim in life is not to devour as much stuff as possible, but to savor the necessities of life. They learn to provide for themselves as many of those necessities as they can, from growing food to rewiring an old house, from playing the banjo to sewing quilts. They share tools, cars, and recipes with friends and neighbors. They exchange labor with others in their community, trading a load of firewood for a tune-up, say, or swapping a haircut for a massage. The ark-builders don't rush from one sensation to the next, as the media propose, but instead they relish the pleasures of an unhurried pace. They hang their laundry outdoors, enjoying the sunshine, instead of stuffing it in a machine. They cook their own food instead of grabbing a sack of sugar and fat in a drive-through lane. They take walks or sit for talks with people they love, instead of buying a ticket to the latest craze. They meet the world in the flesh, instead of through a screen. They remember how to dream and laugh without benefit of electricity.

"None of this would have seemed strange to our grandparents. Thrift is normal; it's what sensible people have always practiced, in every land. What's abnormal is the binge of consumption that the rich nations have been on for the past few decades. The ark-builders know this binge will pass, and the sooner the better. Meanwhile, they do what they can to hold back the flood of devastation.

"By protecting wild land, they are helping to preserve the biological heritage — the seed stock, the diversity of species, the intricate web of fertility — that we will need to replenish the earth after the flood recedes. By living simply, by meeting more and more of their own needs from local and renewable sources, they are conserving the skills, knowledge, and values that our descendants will need in order to live decent lives without impoverishing the planet. By forming alternative communities, they are creating islands of sanity and integrity from which a new civilization may spread."