As a wise Scot once said, not entirely without a sense of longing – so much is
beyond our ken. This applies as much to the things we think we understand
as to the things we readily admit we don’t. Perhaps the biggest mystery is
ourselves. It does us no favours in this quest that we constantly refer to our
own intellects when problem solving. Our intellectual language is usually
flawed. It relies on our pride, our hubris. It makes us internalise our problems
to a destructive degree when searching for answers to the dilemmas the world
throws at us. Everything we encounter is approached with the human factor
at the forefront of our subsequent action. Everything has to work for us. And
nowhere is this more evident when dealing with the planet we inhabit.
Ecologically we are despoilers, takers of what we need, when we need it,
regardless of any consequences. We cannot help ourselves. It is what we have
become. We regard the world and at the same time disregard. Global harm
requires global action, global imperatives, global action. But the thing is, the
world’s populations are static in their need for ‘stuff’ – their stuff. Ask the
average person if they think the planet is worth saving and they will say yes.
Of course they will. They are residents, after all. Ask them a more specific
question about the dangers posed by rampant consumerism and what they
would be willing to sacrifice in order for them to contribute towards any
solution and you might find them more circumspect. Or even hostile. What
they might be prepared to concede about the damage man does to his
environment and what they would give up are arguably irreconcilable.
No-one (or at least not enough) want to give up their car, their jet plane, their
16 ounce steak, their wet-wipes, their insecticide-protected crops. But they
will put the plastic bottle in the recycle bin and donate their unwanted clothes.
So that’s ok. Only it’s not. Not by a long way.
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