Not much progress was made at the recent climate summit in Glasgow.
Our precocious 15-month-old Granddaughter put her finger on the reason!
Adalyn has a limited vocabulary, but she understands a good portion of what we say. To ease frustration arising from the gap between her comprehension and verbal expression, our daughter taught her basic sign language.
Can you guess what Adalyn’s favorite sign is?
She makes it by bringing the fingers on each hand together, and then touching her hands together in front of her; the American sign language sign for “More.”
Who doesn’t want more?
When “More” is a corporate objective, we call it greed. Greed of course, always applies to someone else. The truth is, “More” is ingrained in our psychic. On a world scale, it’s a large problem.
The British economist, Thomas Malthus (1766-1834), was best known for his theory that population growth, in absence of strict limits, would lead to resource depletion and economic collapse. His theories haven’t held up. Free market economies never run out of anything. When demand exceeds supply, prices rise and alternatives or new technologies are found.
This says nothing, however, about the kind of world “More” creates.
The natural world is changing rapidly. More forests have been lost during the past one-hundred years than in the previous 9000 years. That’s an area egual to the size of The United States. (Source: Ourworldindata.org).
The World Wildlife Federation claims that species are going extinct at somewhere between 1000 and 10,000 times the natural rate.
Synthetic chemicals are ubiquitous in the environment, presenting negative consequences for health.
Scientists believe we have entered a new geological age; the so called anthropocene, a period where human action is the dominant influence on climate and environment. We don’t know exactly what this will mean to future generations, but it doesn’t appear to be good!
One thing is certain. Degradation of the natural world will continue until such a time when the driving force of economic activity ceases to be “More.”
What kind of world might that entail? Would quality of life rather than quantity in life rise? Would attention shift from acquisition to stewardship? I have to admit, a world devoid of “More” is hard for me to imagine!
Real progress on climate change is going to require a new economic approach.
Back in my work days, financial experts advocated for a broad “activity-based” view of product costs to more accurately calculate profits. If such an approach included costs associated with environmental degradation, prices would rise significantly!
No one likes pollution, but I’m not sure dramatically higher prices would be any more acceptable.
This brings me to my main point. Who is responsible for climate change? Governments? Corporations? That’s where today’s headlines place the blame!
But who are we fooling?
Meaningful progress will not be made until individuals decide environmental protection is of greater urgency than “More.”
Perhaps we are seeing the earliest signs of such a change. Young people appear to have greater concern for the origin and impact of what they buy. As a result, sustainability is beginning to enter the corporate lexicon.
These are positive signs, but we are a long way from abandoning our Ponzi scheme stewardship of the earth.
Everyone likes “More.”
Just ask Adalyn!
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