If we do not care for the environment, the environment will not care for us

The world’s environmental problems grow with the numbers of humanity. The quality of the air is getting poorer, there is less fresh water to go round, biodiversity is being lost; the forests are being chopped down; the climate appears to be changing quite rapidly as a result of human caused emissions of greenhouse gases and there are fewer and fewer fish in the seas.

These are problems on a large scale. Humans are not very good at dealing with problems on a large scale because solving problems on a large scale involves humans co-operating with each other. Indeed, humans are not very good at co-operating with each other without seeking to obtain an advantage for themselves. In small communities people tend to help one and other. In large cities it tends to be every person for himself, and the devil take the hindmost.

The ozone hole was a large matter but human co-operation required was to ban Chlorofluorocarbons and other ozone depleting substances. The industries that made ozone depleting substances were not dependent on their manufacture for their profits and they could make other substances which worked as well but did not deplete the ozone layer. In these circumstances co-operation between nations was possible. The first warnings about ozone depletion were in about 1970.  By 1987 the world’s most industrialised nations signed up to a protocol in Montreal banning ozone depleting substances over a period of time (which cynics would say was linked the expiry of the manufacturers’ patents), and since 1994 the ozone depletion seems to be reversing.

It was in the interests of the environment to ban ozone depleting substances as soon as the links between them and ozone depletion were known. The major obstacle was the chemical companies who manufactured these substances. It “only” took 17 years for the ban to start to be phased in.

That is the best example of humanity co-operating for their common good that I can think of. There are examples of humanity failing to co-operate to ban something that harmed the environment for far longer periods. Lead in petrol was known to have adverse effects on health in the 1920s. It was only banned in most places about seventy years later.

So when I wonder if humans can co-operate to solve environmental problems I must admit that our track record is not very good. A problem like climate change, created, I believe, by humans burning fossil fuel and injecting other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, is linked to other environmental problems like air pollution with particulates and soots, smogs, despoiling land with open cast mines, oil pollution from leaking wells, health problems for coal miners, and the like.

In order to mitigate these environmental problems we need to co-operate, but how likely is that? Everyone who lives in the luxury of a warm home, hot water, electricity when you want it, a car to drive around, a plane to fly on holidays, cheap clothing, cheap meat and fish, does not want to lose these luxuries. The businesses that provide these luxuries do not want to lose their profits from providing them, any more than the chemical companies wanted to lose their profits from manufacturing ozone depleting substances. There are, however, far more vested interests in the businesses that create climate change than there were in the businesses that created ozone depleting substances.

This does not bode well. The only way to mitigate climate change is to have humanity co-operate in banning certain practices and scaling down on others. There is, people understand, no point in doing this half heartedly or having just a few nations do this; it has to be done on a world scale.

So far governments throughout the world are looking at devices that encourage environmentally protective behaviour, rather than on enacting laws that bite, like the Montreal Protocol. Rather than caring for the environment we worry about it; rather than protecting the environment we are talking about protecting it. The problem is that if we do not care for the environment then the environment will not care for us.

5 Responses

  1. Don’t you think we should prioritise population reduction rather than reduction in energy consumption?

    For example, the UK is overpopulated so why not reverse the child benefit system to progessively tax families with more than one child, more than one car, more than one house, etc.

    Population control, could have significant benefits elsewhere. Fewer unskilled people, less exploitation, better access to education, resources spread across fewer people, less pollution, fewer dense housing estates etc.

    Mankind now has the resource and knowledge to create a golden age yet because of uncontrolled population growth amongst the poorest sectors it can’t happen.

    The problem may be difficult to tackle now but in a few years it will cause serious conflict.

    • Population control is vital; I do not see why we cannot control population growth and reduce energy consumption.

      Robert

  2. Population control or reduction is a very contravercial subject and one of possible eugenical outlooks in many of the ellite fraternities eyes and will get a varied and sometimes gaurded result with more unanswered questions you hadn’t bargained for.

    It is not true that the enviornment will not look out for us humans at all, as you know she does this tirelessly every second of every day, the Gaia is an all seeing and ever watching eye over our every move, what is happening together with solar changes is that balance starting to kilter with our influence also.

    Then we come to our immediate environment and what we do as humans that stops the smoother running of it is what we see developing,,,,we have already seen a movement in our bees, and yet another unseen system is being attacked as we speak, the Benthic layers of our oceans are the wastelands and the natural soup where life in many of the seas and oceans is born at a 4 degree.

    If we poison both of these environments we are in grave danger of loosing the very fine balance we need to sustain all of our basisc life supports system and its life giving food stuffs,,,,,The G O M incident and the myriad of deadly chemicals used in its clean up procedure is not going to help in the long term.

    There is no such thing as true organics today because the tremendous ammount of unaturals we have released into the sphere has to come down again somewhere, so we can forget a true organic society for at least another few hundred years until all the waste is covered over and out of reach of the root stock and the ellimination of unatural fertilisers and chemicals used to force our sustinence into being.

    It is true that if we started doing things for ourselves instead of trampling down those carbon units who work tirelessly for us every day then the remaining people and jobs will be so much more cherished and kept at a happy medium, but we must not be the kettle calling the pot black by trying to live in one dimension whilst procrasternating what should be done in another, we simply cannot have it both ways.

    The way I see it chris is that you want people to pay for polluting the planet weather its through an unborn child or taxes on carbon which we already pay a lions share for today,,,,your policies would soon land us all in the pervrbial and is one destined to fail before it has begun, so.

    Here me once again, making someone work for nothing and giving or taxing someone else with open mouths for doing nothing does not work PERIOD and is one of our main problems.

    We have got to look through our third eye or we will simply continue to damage our whole, does the Gaia will have to have the upper hand before we understand what we need to be is the change what we want to see.

    Let a new world order take place right now and start caring for everybody elses child, help those who want to help themselves, care for your immediate enviornment as if it belonged to you all, stop walking on childerick and simply say no to all policies that ask you to create heady murder in someone elses name and we might just get somewhere tomorrow.

  3. I only said “prioritise” population reduction.

  4. Lol idc

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