It's not about the environment

2012-05-25 09:29

Some sections of humanity have grudgingly come to accept that the way we choose to live has severe consequences for the longevity of the earth. We have been scared into buying organic, shopping local, solar panels, cycling for our morning toast and welcoming the bitter fate of vegetarianism as an ethical act of greenness. This greenification is the result of our incessant consumerism, our ‘need-to-have’ mentality for cheaper, quickly made goods made the cheap dirty way. Would all the talk about renewable energy and recycling still exist if the earth were not dying a slow man-made death? Of course, there are those who believe desertification, deforestation and increasing temperatures are a non-event and part of an absurd mythology that humans are not the primary agents of the earth’s planetary change.

Whether we are all going to combust because of our mass materialism should not be the trigger changing the way we choose to live. Even if there were infinite resources, infinite avenues for exploitation, how is living the way we continue to live remotely justified?

Surely it is not okay to live light years from our threshold of need? Or perhaps we are too far-gone at this point, too corrupted by the capitalist ‘logic’ of market economics and perhaps we should just lie in this quagmire of greed, which takes us ever further from enlightened human interaction? I do not think so. The mechanised market and trade economics tells the tale of a part of the human story, which rewards profit and innovation, but it seems to also detract from the simplicity of non-robotic interaction.

We have been duped into wanting things, not for themselves but because they lead to some sort of societal approval. People are not regarded as vessels of ideas and purpose but as a means to get something, get somewhere or to be someone. Even among human beings we search for ‘things’. Political leaders are chosen as though they are meant to meet an individual’s needs – a lesson from market economics – instead of the much larger guiding imperative – communal need.

Heightened production guided by incessant ‘need’ and the short-sighted way in which things are made reveals a larger human problem. We should not be looking toward alternative energy and eating less beef in our burgers based on fear for the world’s end. We should be looking towards more self-sufficient and energy sustainable modes because this, in itself, is an ethical end, not because the sustenance of the earth will guarantee more irrational consumption in a business-as-usual manner. This is not about what is a deteriorating ecology, but about a deteriorating part of humanity.


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