Time to protect the environment and live more sustainably

One of the main problems is that we live in a finite world but we act and behave as if this were not the case.   This is our real dilemma.  We live as if the planet will just keep on giving, that it is inexhaustible.

For such a long time we have closed our eyes to some of the side effects of all our technological successes and hidden the results of pursuing constant growth.   The world’s population has increased exponentially in just 200 years going from 900 million to nearly 8000 million.  However, we have barely grasped that fact and continue on without changing our thinking.

We, the richer countries and our consumer behavior needs to make changes. We can still partake of our favorite pastimes, special hobbies and enjoy checking into an Uptown pokies site to play our favorite games but it is important to keep in mind that while our increasing consumption drives our economy, this also effects the entire planet and may well be endangering our life on earth.

The Global Risk Report of 2020 of the World Economic Forum lists the following five problems we are likely to face in the near future and they are all environmental.

  • Dangerous changes in the weather causing serious damage to infrastructure, property and human and wild life.
  • Governments and business leaders failing to alleviate and make the necessary changes to adapt to the changes in climate.
  • Disasters caused to the environment which are man-made.
  • The elimination of biodiversity and the breakdown of ecosystems that would have severe and everlasting consequences for the environment, and for and ultimately cause a serious reduction of resources for humankind and for industry. 
  • An increase in natural disasters, like earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis.

The Dilemma 

We face a major dilemma, the growth dilemma. Do we move off this path of growth which could cause economic and social breakdown or maintain growth at the risk of devastating world ecosystems which are crucial for our very existence.

We need to find the way out of this dilemma but it will take courage and a very clear and bold strategy to help us get there. Policy makers barely touch on the subject during public debates.

We, humankind, need to change our mindset and make a 180 degree turnabout in the way in which we think about growth.  Growth cannot be our only goal. It must be a sustainable growth.  No easy task. A complete change in the way we think, work and live our daily lives is needed.

The usual response to the growth dilemma is to separate economic growth from resource consumption by creating more efficient methods of production. This supposedly leads to more sustainable goods and services. But there is still a huge increase in resource consumption which needs to be addressed.

It seems that two different elements of separation need to be carried out. Firstly, the separation of the production of goods and services from unsustainable but natural consumption and the decoupling of people’s needs and desires for more and more consumption.

The task ahead of us is a colossal one.  How are we to deal with the basic needs of a growing world population and, at the same time, make sure that we respect and maintain the ecological parameters of earth itself.

It is worth pointing out that 80% of the globe’s consumption of resources is consumed by 20% of the entire world’s population and they are located in mostly rich countries. The other important fact to remember is that more than 60 percent of the world’s population. Approximately 4.3 billion people are living in dire poverty, and are subsisting on just a few dollars a day.

For the past 30 years the illusory hope has been that a solution to these serious ecological concerns would be found, and implemented within the prevailing economic system with some technological innovation program.  This has not happened. In spite of our successes and continuing prosperity we have not managed to reduce resource consumption, climate change or damage to biodiversity. In fact, all these are in a considerably worse state.

Europe is the worst culprit, using more resources, and negatively impacting the environment far more than other regions in the world.  We have to change the way things are done.   New ways of dealing with these environmental and climate crises are going to have to be found. 

The old ideas have not proved to be useful.  We just have to understand that our present way of doing things negatively impacts the ecosystems and this just cannot continue. Future generations will inherit a very different world with many disadvantages.

Sadly, the biggest privately run companies have most of the power and they have the controlling hand.  Since the climate debate of 2015, and all the promises made at that time, the 5 biggest producers are even emitting 28 percent more fossil fuels.

Digitalization

Digitalization until now has been used to continue along the same path of growth and not to make any sustainable changes. Digital processes today reinforce existing problems, the overuse of natural resources and the social inequalities in many regions and countries.   Digitalization can be a useful tool if we manage to put it at the service of sustainable development goals.

One of the most serious consequences of the present economic growth is, of course, climate change.    Global warming is estimated to increase by 5 degrees by the end of this century which will bring about huge changes.  In order to reduce this significantly gas emissions must be reduced now all over the world. So far, this is not happening in any serious way.  

The dilemma remains the same

Our existing economic system promotes the abuse of nature and man. There are many rich people but unfortunately many very poor people as well.  In order to really achieve success and to make sustainable changes for any future economy, the natural conditions and the situations of people in all regions of the world must be taken into account.  There needs to be a shift from a competitive attitude to one of cooperation and acting for the common good.

As environmentally-aware prosperous individuals it is our duty to do all we can to protect the environment.  It is not enough to purchase sustainable products. The message is still to consume more, rather than less, as long as it is environmentally friendly.   Our over consumption, even of sustainable items, is very often at the expense of poverty and creating serious environmental problems in other areas on our planet.

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