For many centuries, humankind has, for the large part, put themselves above nature. But consider the impact we have had on nature by considering our cultural habits and how we can change and learn for the future.
We are the ultimate predator, top of the food chain. Unfortunately, when predators become too numerous the food chain becomes out of balance and eventually will become unsustainable. Whilst the developed world has an excess of food (much of it processed) and related health problems through poor diet (type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, cancers), poorer countries with harsher environments have lower mortality rates due to lack of nutrition, disease and starvation.
The solution requires a total change in worldwide culture. We need to reduce population sizes by having less, or no children. We need to change to a basic diet, reducing carbohydrates, sugars, fats and salts in our diets, whilst developing countries need more carbohydrates and fats.
In developed countries, medical staff are extending life (which is commendable), but also means that the older population is increasing, but not necessarily with better health. This will eventually become unsustainable. For those countries that have “free” health care, their services will become stretched to the limit. Nothing is free in the world. The pension age will continue to rise to pay for the services, rising population and state pensions, but more people will be on sickness and disability benefits before they reach pension age and this will become unsustainable. Taxes will rise and people will then have to cut down on extravagant spending.
The consequence, though, will mean that poorer areas will not be able to afford the cost of living and there is already an increase in suicides, homelessness and mental health issues.
So, in effect, we need to reduce family sizes on a worldwide scale and change our consumer habits. Look at areas, such as Glencoe in Scotland, where the deer population is out of control. The result is overforaging, which leads to an unsustainable environment for deer and an increase in disease and death. Humanity needs to learn from nature. The solution is this problem is introduce predators into the wild and, as seen in Yellowstone, rewilding will take place naturally.
I’m certainly not going to attack vegans and vegetarians, but every choice we make has consequences. Farming cows has increased the amount of methane gas in the atmosphere. If we eat meat, then natural herds are a much healthier choice. In a country that has excessive deer populations, venison is a far more ethical choice than beef. Eat locally produced foods. As the population grows, distribution of food through delivery trucks becomes more and more difficult and adds to pollution.
We rely on too many oil based products and plastics. Deforestation, is a consequence of the amount of paper we use and wood. This increases green house gases, thus leading to an increase in temperature and sea levels. We are on the precipice of a global disaster. Pollution, though, is again a consequence of an increasing, unsustainable population and, whilst there are greener energy options, there is no such thing as totally green energy. The only true way to cut pollution is to reduce population sizes.
What Can We Do Individually?
It’s okay talking about all these issues, but we need to realise that we are also part of the problem and can be greener. I love music. In recent years music love have been returning to vinyl. So much so, that there is now a shortage of vinyl and vinyl recordings are becoming more and more expensive. The solution, change my habits. The reason for vinyl sales increase is clever marketing that works. Vinyl feels like something material (although you can’t best 10 inch shellac). It is not a need, it is a want. In fact, unless you have a top of the range record player, CD’s, downloads and streaming is far more sustainable and environmentally friendly. You need to distinguish between wants and needs and consider your choices.
That might seem a trite example, but it starts with small things. Are you recycling as much as possible? How full are your recycling bins compared to non recyclable waste? Are you reusing shopping bags? What kind of vehicle do you drive? How do you heat your home? Are you planning a family? What kind of future awaits your offspring?
Positive steps – grow your own fruit and vegetables, even if they are in pots. Donate to charities and food banks, to help those in worse circumstances than yourself. If you have land, plant trees.
Sign petitions, write to politicians, oppose things that destroy ancient woodland, such as HS2. Vote for parties with greener policies, support rewilding, etc.
Even though our efforts may seem fruitless, remember it starts with me.