For the majority of Western voters increasingly living their lives in a pre-packed, homogenised society, commerce is king.
And the propensity of many to iterate verbatim, economic platitudes espoused by the elite beneficiaries of the corporate status quo, is as telling as it is frustrating.
Sure, they may express concern for the environment, but regurgitate the notion that an increasing population is an economic necessity.
New housing and infrastructure development on greenfield sites inevitable.
Of course, this indoctrinated fatalism is encouraged by a political establishment itself tired, brow beaten and out of ideas. They genuflect to the spurious narrative of short-term business interests regardless of the abiding societal and environmental legacy.
Indeed, even ‘green’ political movements and charitable organisations have thrown in the towel, realising that uncomfortable truths attract neither voters or donations.
Instead, they suggest to the burgeoning populous that we can continue with business as usual if we simply throw enough money and technology at the natural world.
They misquote Gandhi, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” Recycle your refuse, donate to the cause, and continue much as before.
To advocate being the change we want to see is a great start. But it does not suggest that a good example absolves us from further responsibility.
We must not abnegate discussing sensitive societal issues where they are identifiable.
Having these discussions is not to blame others or to exempt ourselves from blame, but is to advocate collective responsibility for necessary reforms.
Failure to address the more difficult topics is to be complicit in their perpetuation.
If one’s neighbour is savagely beating his children, it is not enough to hope that he may choose to adopt our own enlightened example.
We are currently witnessing, and are a party to the planets’ 6th mass extinction. Referred to as the Anthropocene, it is an age in which human activity is the destructive driver. Human population globally, has more than doubled since 1970.
The correlation between population growth and species extinction is exact, and can only be ignored wilfully. See here
Currently, global population is increasing at a rate of 10,000 additional
human beings an hour, above 1.5 million net each week. That this seismic increase is unsustainable, is manifest.
It is clear that education is key in addressing the expansion of anthropogenic pressure. In developing countries, affording educational/aspirational opportunities to women in particular, not only encourages smaller, planned families (the children of which statistically achieve greater academic attainment), but also utilises their skills in contributing to the economy, along with numerous wider societal benefits.
But this is not an issue unique to developing nations. Population ‘overshoot’ of carrying capacity in the first world is in urgent need of wider discussion and political address.
“Whatever your cause, it is a lost cause without population stabilisation”
So it is with our current economic model. Demanding as it does, exponential growth from atrophying resources, it is mathematically illiterate. Infinite into finite does not go.
We must challenge this flawed economic paradigm. Explore alternative ‘circular’ and lower growth models.
“The notion of ever more old people needing ever more young people, who in turn will grow old and need ever more young people and so on, ad infinitum, is an obvious ecological Ponzi scheme”.
Sir David Attenborough
Recycling the refuse is great. Donating to environmental organisations, admirable. But money and technological advance will not serve as a panacea to a pandemic.
We cannot buy ourselves a clean, sustainable environment. We cannot innovate our way to infinite natural resources. This pernicious, alchemic lie must be called out.
Gandhi himself, did not achieve his political objectives by simply being a nice guy. And certainly not by closing his eyes to patent facts. He achieved them by being a nuisance.
This Anthropocene age is happening now. Its cause is identifiable. And its urgent remedies require robust and persistent advocacy.