The maintenance of exisiting lifestyles and the mitigation of climate change are incompatible.
Modern lifestyles depend upon the profligate use of energy, almost exclusively fossil fuel-based energy, and as is well understood by our climate scientists, the resultant carbon dioxide from the combustion of the ingredients of those ancient fuels has disturbed, and significantly changed, Earth’s climate system.
Humanity has lived through an era of relatively unchanged climatic conditions, but that is changing, or has changed, and so what we are witnessing now is the arrival of weather events foreign to what is needed to allow the people of the world to thrive.
Humanity has been herded into a consumptive col-de-sac, driven there by the market paradigm of never-ending growth that was force-fed to the population using Edward Bernays created propaganda that was re-cast as “public relations”.
The idea of never-ending growth, the essence of capitalism that has now morphed into globilization, is fundamentally flawed and is ultimately impossible in a finite world.
It is the concept to endless growth and the need, now pressingly urgent, to live in a more restrained way which are contradictory and so demand, if we are to have any hope of a reconciliation between the two, we need a re-set of humanity’s values, ideals, aims, hopes, and dreams.
Considering this dilemma causes me to consider what the late German pastor, Dietrich Bonhoeffer said:
“Culturally it means a return from the newspaper and the radio to the book, from feverish activity to unhurried leisure, from dispersion to concentration, from sensationalism to reflection, from virtuosity to art, from snobbery to modesty, from extravagance to moderation.”
Bonhoeffer, who was killed by the Nazis in 1945 for being involved in an attempt to kill Adolf Hitler, could see even than that our extravagance was detrimental to human wellbeing, although probably for different reasons than those that trouble, and threaten, humanity today.
And so taking Bonhoeffer’s advice, we need to pry apart our extravagance, resile from it and build a new way of living that is about understanding how we can continue to enjoy our lives with less of everything and so live in a more restrained fashion.