I saw a sign up at my daughter`s school the other day:`Save The Planet`. A common enough phrase in this environmentally conscious culture of ours. Teaching the children to save the planet has to be a good thing. After all, we`re affecting the environment and the planet is doomed unless we do something about it. We know this for sure don`t we ? Yes, there are some people who deny it but these people are just misled, in denial, greedy (delete as appropriate).
Well, what if I tell you that the planet is in no danger from us whatsoever ? That whatever we do to the planet it will eventually recover. Would you put me in the category of denying the facts above ?
Well, it`s true. The planet is in no danger. It`s us that are in danger. All talk of environmental impact and climate change affects just one thing;the biosphere will need to survive. If humanity were to die off and stop polluting and messing around with things, the planet would recover. A new balance would be found. A new order established. We put ourselves in danger of distinction with our actions. So the slogan should not be `Save The Planet`; it should be `Save Us`.
So we can fix it. Right ? I mean we`re recycling and setting up sustainable growth ?
Sorry, nope. All we`re doing is lessening our individual impact. It`s not enough. As a culture we are sleepwalking our way to our own destruction, and this cultural outlook is global. Why? Because we`re not tackling the real issue. To paraphrase Joss Wheddon (Firefly):we are too many, and we`re using the earth up. We continue to happily convert biomass to human biomass. We happily consume finite resources, blissfully uncaring of the long-term outlook. Even `green` technologies use rare earth minerals, so called because they are rare, and therefore ultimately unsustainable.
Calculated on 2003 average global impact, the Optimal Population Trust (http://www.optimumpopulation.org/) state that sustainable global population is somewhere around 5.1 billion. That`s more or less the current state of play. However in order to get this avaerage, people live in dire poverty to give us our western lifestyles. For a modest global lifestyle (3.3 global hectares per person or ghap per cap), allowing for 12% biodiversity, the susutainable population figure drops to 3 billion. Less than half of what it is today. In the UK our lifestyle (5.5 gha/cap) can sustainably support around 17 million people. There are around 65 million of us.
So, why doesn`t anyone hear the politicians talking of this ? Because the whole of our economy is based on growth. The people of this working generation pay the pensions of those who have gone before us. We pay the health care, the government salaries, MP`s expenses. In short, it`s not in their interest and is an unpopular message. It involves telling people that they will not only have to live within their means, but reduce their lifestyle. It`s telling the finance people that recession is a good thing and we need to cut back. No, if anything is to be done it will be down to us as individuals.
Something to think about !