How long can we over-consume?

iBrian

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There was a very interesting article on the BBC website this week. It says nothing I'm sure most people here will not already be aware of.

However, it;s interesting to note the stark tone in certain reagrds. If I may particularly highlight one aspect:

"Some history is there as a warning," Sir Crispin says. "Since the last ice age ended 11,000 years ago, there have been around 30 urban societies. Some lasted longer than others. But nearly all crashed sooner or later, and the underlying cause was a mismatch between human demand and natural supply, in short unsustainability."

And he's completely right.

So, we're faced with the task of tackling our consumer-driven market economies. But how on earth do we even begin to approach that issue, when historically speaking the rich have always been keenest to hold onto thier assets - no matter the cost?

What is the actual near-future of our earth? If we are going to tackle over-consumption, through what means? Surely the voting public of the USA, Europe, and Japan, at least will not allow for any significant degree of restrictive legislature?

Or will the solution come through some as yet unknown solution - perhaps a new and radical religious concept - or amalgamation of - that directly fights it, and convinces the public of the very real need for accepting restrictions on our standard of living?

Or do we require a complete crash of the economy, so that money is effectively worthless, and the business engines that most demand to feed consumerism as silenced?

Or must we wait to move through a yet-imminent collapse of Western Civilisation? In which case - who will be the successors?

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/3153661.stm

Can the world go on as it is?

Put your recycling out, fit energy efficient bulbs, use public transport - you think you're helping to save the planet. But could all our efforts be futile?

Britons are slowly starting to recycle more. Cars are much more efficient than those on the roads 20 years ago. Our houses are better insulated. And local supermarkets now stock eco-friendly devices, such as low energy light bulbs.

But the environmental benefits could count for naught in the drive for economic prosperity, according to the Fabian Society.

A report by the left-leaning think tank says our level of consumption stands in the way of sustainable development. And acting locally - perhaps by recycling that drinks can or buying locally-grown produce - has little effect unless governments do better at acting globally, says the report's author, Roger Levett. "Individual actions can't make a difference without a regulatory framework to underpin the good done."

Even eco-friendly technologies encouraged by Labour can cost the Earth dear. Sure, our cars can go faster and further - and on less fuel - than those of our forebears. But this has helped put more people on the roads.

And manufacturers have made these energy efficient motors bigger in order to power gutsier - and more thirsty - cars. "Tony Blair gets very excited about hybrid engines, which can double the miles you get to the gallon. But you can make your journeys more efficient quite easily, by sharing the journey to work with a colleague or by running more than one errand at a time," Mr Levett says.

Encouraging behavioural change is at least as important as technological advances if we are to treat the Earth as we mean it to stay. London's congestion charge scheme, for instance, is set to be repeated in other traffic-clogged centres.

While there will always be people prepared to pay the £5 toll to drive into the central city, it has forced others to think twice about whether that journey needs to be made by car. As a result, traffic is down by a fifth.

Apocalypse when?

To be serious about the environment means tackling consumption, Mr Levett says. Globally in the past 20 years, household energy use has increased by two-thirds, road traffic has doubled and air traffic quadrupled. Each year the rich countries of the OECD produce almost two tonnes of waste for every person.

Sir Crispin Tickell, of Oxford University's Green College Centre for Environmental Policy and Understanding, says the scale of our consumption has created a demand which since the late 1970s has exceeded the Earth's ability to provide. "The ecological overshoot could have been as much as 20% of supply by the beginning of this century," Sir Crispin says.

One problem is that economic growth is taken as a key measure of policy success and of a country's development. Instead the priority should be sustainability. "Markets are superb at setting prices, but incapable of recognising costs."

The black-outs in North America last week provide a timely reminder of this. The energy market there - as in the UK - has been deregulated and costs cut to lure consumers. This leaves little in the pot for maintenance and extra capacity.

Thus when one station went down, others struggled to keep up with demand until whole cities were left in the dark. But now cheap resources and conspicuous consumption have become a way of life for many, there will no doubt be resistance to change.

Will it be to our cost? "Some history is there as a warning," Sir Crispin says. "Since the last ice age ended 11,000 years ago, there have been around 30 urban societies. Some lasted longer than others.

But nearly all crashed sooner or later, and the underlying cause was a mismatch between human demand and natural supply, in short unsustainability."

Not easy being green

How best to make a change for the good of ourselves and the good of the planet? Our fates are, after all, intertwined. Sir Crispin says that change is usually down to one of three main reasons: leadership from above; public pressure from below; or some catastrophe which jerks us from our inertia onto a more sensible course.

Mr Levett says politicians must address consumption, however difficult that may be. The political risks London's mayor Ken Livingstone took in pushing through the congestion charge illustrate how hard this can be. But politics should not be about short-term popularity with drivers or oil barons or bargain-conscious shoppers - the Fabian Society says it is about identifying the kind of society we want, for ourselves and for our future, and the job of government try to achieve it.
 
How about the marriage of Science and Religion? ...

From the PhysicsForums thread, The Center of Existence ...

But when you view science in terms of being rebellious against the Church, and hence the "prodigal son," then the idea becomes very plausible.

And at what point do you think we need to get together and do something about the planet? Don't you think it's about time we reconciled things with our mother and, very much like the Native American Indian, view her as sacred? Wouldn't this be a good common cause for getting science and religion together? Where science could do the necessary research and religion would be the means of implementing it on a "local level?" (through our belief system). It seems like it would be a lot easier than getting the government to do something about it!
 
Please, Iacchus, one forum at a time, yes? Referencing one thread on one forum to explore the meaning of one thread on another forum is hardly conducive to the best of manners. :)
 
I said:
Please, Iacchus, one forum at a time, yes? Referencing one thread on one forum to explore the meaning of one thread on another forum is hardly conducive to the best of manners. :)
Well I guess I forgot to mention it was a thread that I created, and had done most of the work on in developing the idea. And, since it didn't garner much response in the other forum, and it basically being my own idea - and a darn good one! - I figured it would be okay to bring it up here. Sorry.

But you're probably right, it's not a good idea to reference things in other forums. I just feel like I'm wasting my time by having to repeat myself over and over again. Whereas personally I don't retain anything (or verly little), because people are so inclined to want something for nothing. In which case I'm usually stuck with minding my own business. ;)
 
continuius economic groth is impossible but who is takaling this problem and how are they tackling it ?
 
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