– what difference can I make?

plague of locusts

“Each time history repeats itself, so it’s said, the price goes up.  The twentieth century was a time of runaway growth in human numbers, consumption, and technology, placing a colossal load on all natural systems, especially earth, air, and water – the very elements of life.  The great question of the twenty-first century is how, or whether this can go on.”  (2004) A SHORT HISTORY OF PROGRESS by Ronald Wright, 0-88784-706-4.

The answer, a mere fifteen years later, is we are already facing crisis, aka climate change.  Luckily many are beginning to ask “what is it we can we do to stop this?”

Unfortunately world governments have a rather different agenda.  From a stance of denying climate change, to accepting it, but with ridiculously long targets, now climate change is being seen as a positive thing, an opportunity for capitalism to reap even greater financial rewards, from the exploitation of previously inaccessible territories (“All aboard” GUARDIAN WEEKEND 23/02/19).

For those of us who remain concerned, there are still things we can do.  Two major factors drive climate change.  The first is consumption, we are rapidly using up what little is left of the planet’s finite natural resources.  We therefore need to stop buying.  But this is difficult, businesses and governments work very hard at convincing us we need instead to spend more.  Thankfully though they all have an Achilles heel, their greed, and margins are now so tight, especially in the biggest concerns, that if sales were to fall, even for as little as 24 hours in some cases, many would go to the wall.  All we need to do then is use social media to organise coordinated boycotts, and learn how to live on less.

Second, and far more serious, is the number of consumers.  In Europe we are totally unaware that human population is a problem, in fact many countries believe they have a falling population that should be increased, for the sake of future generations.  This is a gross misconception.  Our species globally has actually reached plague/ infestation proportions, it is literally destroying everything in its path.  And those figures are the only relevant ones.  Putting it into a proper perspective, our current manifestation began about 200,000 years ago, and from there we multiplied very slowly, over the whole period, approximately by 3,000 a year, so that by 1760 our global number had reached a total of only 650,000,000.  But then we experienced the Industrial Revolution, and this changed everything, including the birth/ survival rate.  Global population began to rise exponentially until now it totals twelve times as many as there were in 1760.  This year the increase on last year is a staggering 81,000,000 new people (eighty-one million!).

Every single one of those, even if they are convinced they are living sustainably, are personally responsible for consuming the habitat and lives of an incalculable number of other species, like locusts, turning the few remaining “natural” parts of the planet into lifeless deserts.  This has to stop.  Quite simply we have to cease accepting (and encouraging) procreation.  At least until our global population drops to a true sustainable figure.

For the sake of all those other species.  For the sake of the planet, which is not replaceable or repairable.  And if that is too hard to grasp, for the sake of children born today who face a far worse future and quite probably will never see adulthood.

1 comment
  1. Phil, you have got the nail, well, both nails on the head. I, for one, totally agree that the rate of growth and the levels of world’s human population and it’s consumption are the two critical problems.

    The third major problem, and there is one, is that world leaders really don’t care, though they surely will once it is already too late. Greta Thunberg and youngsters like her think far more clearly, with easy more ethical power, than any of the adults who are in charge. If it was down to me, I’d want children to make the difficult decisions for us. Adults simply are too experienced and confused to be up to the job. They can execute the decisions the kids make.

    However you’re also spot on with making a personal difference: each of us can consume less, have less children (or adopt existing ones).

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