Saturday, November 05, 2005

Good reasons not to act

Looking at the various curves stretching upwards forecasting the rising consumption of natural ressources - the number of people on earth, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere, the rising sea level and increasing temperature - it is pretty obvious that we are in for some fundamental changes in the coming decades.The main question seems to be whether it will be a relatively smooth transition or one of collapses and disruptions.
We ought to change our lifestyle and our consumption – but we don’t. To the contrary, it’s an age of expansion, for many of us way beyond what we were able to imagine just recently.

There are good reasons NOT to hold back on consumption. Maybe the most important one is that consumption of ressources is directly related to power. The more energy you use, the more power you have – more or less. If you jet around, if you jump in the car and speed ahead, if you don’t slow down to pick up the garbage, you will have more power. You can get things done, you are a player in a very different way than somebody ”sitting self- righteously at home in a woolen sweater”, as British journalist Mark Lynas puts it.
Changing the world by setting a good example of low consumption and responsible behaviour sounds like the right path, but it’s just not very sexy.
And maybe, maybe it’s simply not the best solution.
Who knows? Maybe the best we can do is to keep jetting around, accellerating life and the economy in the hope that this will quicken the development of some wonderful technical fix that will once again buy us time in the land of mindless, convenient consumption.
It’s weird, though, there’s so much we ought to do, so many solutions that we pretty know would help somewhat, but ironically we’re simply too busy to do anything serious about it.
Engaging ourselves in changing the world will be a very sophisticated sell – or it will be prompted by un-ignorable necessity.

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