By John Keeble
Do you think you can turn the clock back? Or even make it stand still? Stupid questions. Of course, you can’t. But then, why are big businesses, political leaders and some nations intent on doing it?
This is a big issue in the Covid-19 recovery. Do we turn the clock back to benefit the profit-takers, or demand a fair, sustainable future for today’s children and tomorrow’s generations.
Not that the dangers to the present and future were not known before the epidemic put life on hold for most of us. We knew political extremism, climate change and pollution were threatening us all. It is just that we have had the time and enforced leisure to see through some of the lies we tell ourselves about those issues.
Sure, coping with the effects of Covid-19 is the obvious elephant in our rooms but, for many, the invisible herd of elephants have gradually lost their invisibility.
Where are you on that journey? Still parroting “fake news”? Seeing the declining condition of the planet but determined to get whatever you want? Seeing the dangers ahead and asking what we can do? Planning to do something to protect your children, grandchildren and future generations? Determined to fight for a clean, fair, sustainable world?
One of the big questions is whether we, as individuals, can do anything about problems like rampant economic growth, pollution, climate change, poverty, moral sickness played out at political and national levels, and the appalling abuse and destruction of our fellow animals.
The lies we tell ourselves: “I can’t do anything about it, I’m just one person.”
That is just an excuse. It simply is not true. You make a difference in voting for forward-looking leaders, supporting planet- and people-protecting projects and changes, in what you choose to consume, how you live your life, what you teach your children and grandchildren, whether you are willing to stand up to be counted against moral wickedness like unfair access to health care and the imprisonment of children.
Don’t duck out of your choices and responsibilities with that old “I’m just one person” cop-out. Assert your right to shape the future.
Economic growth, business expansion, and increasing personal wealth and comfort have been central to our existence in the past – and getting back to those priorities, without any rein to protect the planet or the vulnerable, is exactly the kind of “winding the clock back” that will lead to disaster when Covid-19’s grip has eased.
Simply expressed, we are consuming hugely too much of the planet’s resources and damaging our life-dependent environment far beyond its ability to recover without putting us out of its misery.
Such clear risks to the people of today and the future are being ignored by nations determined to put economic growth first. America’s profit-focused leaders, for example, have steamed ahead with a massive, systematic rolling back of environmental, health and animal abuse laws which have protected Americans and the planet for many decades.
Every nation has to restart its economy and, when it is deemed safe by specialists with training and experience, get people back into work to provide for themselves and their families. It is predictable that some nations, like the U.S. and Brazil, will go backwards with raw economy first and to hell with the price paid by the people and the planet. Others, like Scotland and New Zealand, will be pushing forward with plans to create sustainable economies that will benefit people now and leave a habitable planet for future generations.
The lies we tell ourselves: “Economic growth is the most important thing. We must have growth whatever the cost.”
I see what you mean. Growth at any cost will work for you in the short term. It’s rather like gorging on the seed corn and leaving your children and grandchildren to starve. Growth, and the ideology of everyone having more and more year after year, is wrecking the planet and killing its inhabitants – we are using resources far faster than can be sustained, we are polluting the air to killer levels, we are catastrophically heating the world, and we are poisoning the land and the sea. In this time of forced pause, shouldn’t our leaders be looking for ways forward that will balance our needs and save enough of the world for the children? And shouldn’t we be demanding it?
Part of this “turning the clocks back” syndrome is the use of fossil fuels instead of phasing them out with the development of cheap renewable energy and the replacement of polluting products like plastics.
The lies we tell ourselves: “Fossil fuels are vital.”
We all thought that once, maybe half a century ago, but time has moved on. Everyone now realises the environmentally disastrous consequences of fossil fuels and plastic products – and the blatant disregard by those determined to profit from them. Solar energy growth, despite political opposition by fossil fuel backers, has grown enormously along with other forms of clean energy. Many natural, sustainable replacements for plastics have been offered, including materials made from mushrooms. Shouldn’t we be demanding our governments phase out fossil fuels and pressure other countries to do the same? Shouldn’t we be insisting money is put into clean energy and natural replacements for plastics?
Some of the hardest changes to make relate to our diets. They are such personal habits on which we rely for our health and energy. And it can be difficult to teach old dogs new tricks.
The problem is that many diets, heavy on meat and dairy, are pushing people and the planet into danger areas. Meat and dairy are proven causes of life-threatening illnesses in people, including cancers and diabetes. Now these industries threaten human survival by pushing us into the devastating loss of antibiotics as treatments. Past pandemics, like this one, have started through eating animal products and more pandemics are predicted. And today’s slaughterhouses are “Club Meds” for viruses.
Meat-eating is driving forest clearance and the sixth mass extinction with its demand for more and more land for farm animals, especially cattle. Brazil is clearing Amazon rainforest at record levels while the world’s attention is on Covid-19. The meat industries are causing massive emissions of planet-warming gases and poisoning rivers and seas with their effluence. The greed for meat is a key cause of food inequality by consuming 75% of the world’s farmlands to grow crops to feed to farm animals.
Increasing protests against all this – along with growing adoption of plant-based diets – is being met by a determined meat industry driving down costs with mega growing centres where animals live through nightmare conditions before being violently slaughtered and processed. In the U.S., forward thinkers like Senator Elizabeth Warren are supporting a bill to phase out factory farming by 2040, while the UK is shamefully allowing the growth of mega centres.
The lies we tell ourselves: My meat is humanely and hygienically produced.
No. There is nothing humane about violently killing an animal. “Humane” is a weasel word to make you feel better when you buy and eat the profitable product of a cruel and vicious practice. You are supporting industries that are wrecking the planet for future generations, endangering your health, and driving the mass extinction of wildlife and plants. It is time to wean yourself off these dangerous weaknesses and tread the well-worn path into plant-based food. For the benefit of yourself, your grandchildren, the planet, and the poor animals so vilely abused and killed.
There are many urgent issues that we, as a species and as societies, face. Now is the time to think about them before life starts speeding up again.
How do you want the future to unfold? What are you prepared to do about it?
Make up your mind because, if you don’t, there are many profit- and politically-motivated interests ready to turn the clock back to a past with no future.
For more reading …
Here are a few interesting links that touch on points being made in my article. You can find many more by googling your particular interest. Now is the time to research and decide.
Economic growth is an unnecessarily evil
Dish of the day — disease
Resources going fast
Future pandemics will be worse
Amazon deforestation surges
Your route to saving the planet
Take pandemics off the menu
Natural alternatives to plastics
Rise of mega farms invading the world
Phasing out mega farms by 2040
Green energy overtakes coal
China energy influence grows
Top dogs of 2050