How do you act in your best interests? I guess for a start you’ve got to know what your best interests are, but there are ways of boiling that down…
I was recently posed the question “Is Sustainable Development an Oxymoron?” It’s kind of linked to the old Capitalism Vs Environmentalism debate, though really the answer is somewhere in the middle – viewable from that comfy seat on the fence.
It’s all about your perspective and desires. We have the technology – some people have done incredible things with uber green technology & principles – and the rest is out there & coming up incredibly quickly. In fact, on that note, the technology’s been out there all along, as Janine Benyus explains in her jaw-dropping TED Talk:
But what do we want? We could all change our behaviours right now, completely give up everything unsustainable… if we felt like it. So why don’t we feel like it? Maybe we don’t feel that the threat is big enough, but I’ve cited reasons to buy into the threat of unsustainability before… So maybe it’s that we don’t feel the pleasure of action is out there; but it is – we’re given Aladin’s Cave of Wonders of basically anything on earth we desire, we can have if we live sustainably… assuming that what you desire isn’t simply burning burning burning a cake made of oil and eating it too. But if you do desire that, you’re a knob.
So maybe we let ourselves think the problem’s already solved… We know the technology’s out there, we have the money to use it if we choose, so at some point that alien group of scientists and government people will get together and just sort it all out, and in the mean time we can carry on living however we want. Wait – you trust them?!
I hear this all the time. Reasons not to try to live more sustainably, that you yourself can’t make a difference – and I assume this comes from an imagined hypothesis that all of the above are sorting it out so we don’t have to, rather than an apathetic resignation to demise.
“The plane will go anyway”
“But they’ve already killed the cow, it’s already dead so you should buy the steak”
“Electric motors are really inefficient so there’s no way that’ll take off”
Or my old favourite, “It doesn’t matter what I do, cos China.” (I’ll happily add that the biggest culprit I used to know for this one has stopped saying it).
Hang on here… so you’re saying that it’s ok to be unsustainable and destructive just because it’s easy and loads of other people are still doing it too? That is not a morally viable position or in any way a sound argument. You would not teach your child that (cf. “Would you jump off a bridge if they all did it too?”). Stop doing it yourself.
But by this reasoning we’re still digging ourselves in, we’re packing worms into a can that’s just about fit to burst. Because even if they do know how to fix it somewhere down the line, every moment we carry on making the problem worse the problem still gets worse. That’s shitting where you sleep cos you hope someone will clean it up in the morning. The ocean has always been a great sink for CO2, meaning that if we pump CO2 into the atmosphere, it could gradually dissolve into the ocean. But this takes sooooooo long, and, while less CO2 in the atmosphere may seem like a good thing, CO2 in the ocean is acidifying it, making it incredibly hard for many things but particularly molluscs, shell fish and corals to live there. You know brittle stars, they’ve got less than 50 years left before they’ve simply dissolved – their skeletons can’t take the pH change. And that’s based on what it’d be like if we just kept global CO2 like it is now…
On a happier note, here’s a new video narrated by George Monbiot, on the impact that Whales have on the Climate.
And less happily, here’s a short one on the repercussions of our actions.
So our continued burning of fossil fuels is acidifying the ocean 50 years from now… about the time the wind and weather are set to go really crazy. Our reliance on brand-new, unsustainable, non-re-usable, non-degradable goods is choking albatrosses. We need to stop canning worms, cos at least some of them are going to get out & make a mess on the rug. Coincidentally, I’m currently working on a project with micro-plastics (when petroleum-based plastic ‘breaks-down’ it just breaks into smaller and smaller pieces, but never stops being plastic – unlike an apple which, at some point, will definitely cease to be an apple), we’re looking to see if micro plastics can pick up metal toxins to transport them into earthworms, as you might find around landfill sites or similar polluted areas. So really, carrier-bags = little sponges of death.
I always say we all act from Pain->Pleasure.
I believe that Sustainability & Development might be synonymous. And I know it needs to be.