Climate change. Climate and change. Two words that are more and more being spoken together in ever more concerned tones. While endless theories abound as to how, when and where our demise may occur, and what may cause it, what if it were already too late? – Currently, we are consuming in one year what it takes the earth one year and three months to produce, and with population levels set to reach 10 million globally by 2050, one can only imagine that this disproportionate amount of consumption will increase. So why the climate change?
Overpopulation may be one thing driving the changes in the earth’s atmosphere, but combine this with overconsumption and inefficient ways of production and disposal, and we rape the earth even more. For too long, growth has been the driving force of our economies, spurring on consumption, and feeding the bottom line of a generation of CEO’s and shareholders, only concerned with their immediate and swift success, at the demise of mother nature, and without a scerric of thought for the generations to come. Kyoto protocols and UN agreements on climate and emissions may be one thing, but the biggest and most determining factor in the whole equation requires a massive shift in the way we think of our economies and their growth.
At what point does an economy reach its limit? When is growth too much? When is it enough? When do the harms of growth outweigh the benefits? And with what aspect of economic thinking – still currently riddled with maths and absent of the irrational, and the random aspects of human nature – do we measure the cost on the earth, our home. Surely one must realise that without a place to live, the fruits of our labour will be null and void? But surely too, there are many who simply don’t or won’t care, when their eyes are on their own gleaming prize, that they will soon take to their expensive grave. – Leaving the young to grow and struggle, inheriting the costs of their mistakes.
Ego: Our ability to be self-aware. It’s perhaps one critical element that sets us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom, and perhaps what may be one of the most influential instrument in our demise, lest we manage it in a sensible and functional way. In his book “The World Without Us” which investigates how the world and its flora and fauna would fair if – for whichever reason – we disappeared from existence (as has happened in ages passed) Alan Weisman poses a grim question of our folly: Speaking of baboons – the primates possessing the largest brain after homo sapiens – he says that “If human crops (in our absence) revert to a mosaic of woods and grassland, and if baboons fill our keystone slot, would they be satisfied to dwell in pure natural beauty? Or could curiosity and sheer narcissistic delight in their unfolding powers eventually push them and their planet to the brink, too?”