I read this interesting article today: My Battle to Cut Carbon: a battling, frustrating path to a more honest life. Both the article, and the many comments which follow it, are deeply interesting.
The author, Madeleine Bunting, points out the numerous excuses people give to not give a shit about the environment – all encapsulated by the phrase ‘mindless apathy’. The three excuses I hear most are:
1. China, Air Force One, the Space Programme, the bushfires, all emit more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than the entire planet of people could in 100 years! So what’s the bloody point?
2) there is no such thing as man made global warming (follows with citations of numerous articles and youtube videos)
3) What difference can one person make? It is so pointless.
Having stated their case, people then get on with their self-justified consumerism: the appliances, the air flights for a bit of shopping, the various communication devices that they simply must have, the big-name car, whatever. It has got to the point where I am beginning to think people sink into the mindless apathy simply so they can justify their equally mindless consumerism, everything fuelled by their sense of entitlement to all their modern comforts. I deserve it, therefore I can justify it.
As an off-hand estimate, I would think that only about 5% of the people I meet or know actually do anything beyond recycling (ah yes, recycling – the ultimate feel good nod toward environmentalism- if I recycle I can feel good about myself and don’t have to do anything else). To do anything else, would make of their lives a tragedy. Give up the dishwasher? The air-conditioning? The air plane flights to a tropical island two or three times a year? Re-think half the appliances in the house? The 2 or 3 cars per household? The brand names dotted everywhere?
A commentator on the BBC world recently called us craven liars when it comes to the environment. We like to say we care, but our every action belies it.
It is difficult. I try and reduce where I can (grow my own food where I can, no air planes, no car), but I still use appliances (But no dishwasher! No dryer! My saintliness knows no bounds! LOL), and I still love the trappings of modern life.
But we really are a self-justifying plague on the face of the earth, yeah? We are such mindless, self-entitled destroyers, and we can always find more reasons to continue down that path.