Climate Cynicism: Do you have to be rich to live sustainably?

This is a question which endlessly floats around me. I see plenty of well meaning people, particularly on social media, who suggest buying bamboo toothbrushes, shopping at the local farm shop, and only buying your coffee beans from independent roasteries, and so on.

As pure as the intentions might be here, I can’t help but feel that it’s misguided, even pointless. First of all, the scope of people who will see these posts, demographically speaking, is very narrow.

The people who will willingly listen to an influencer speak about sustainability already likely have an interest in the subject, and likely have the ability – in some capacity – to act on this if they so choose.

I can’t help but think of, however, those who not only aren’t reached by this message, but also don’t have the means to act upon it. Whether your potatoes are covered in plastic or imported from Spain on a refrigerated ship that spurts oil into the channel, this all becomes really irrelevant when it’s a battle to put food on the table.

We always hear things like “Let’s get this issue at the source!” and “If we all banded together…” in relation to these issues. For example, I was vegan for 2 years, but not once did it feel to me like there was any remote point whatsoever, ecologically speaking. Now I eat fish and drink milk, I don’t feel any worse about myself.

If 100 people stop consuming animal products, yes that has an impact, but it’s also minuscule.

You would have to eat a vegan diet for 80 years in order to balance out bringing up a child for 1 year. Astonishing, yes, but this is one of the true core issues.

I think of the Frankie Boyle joke: [“I went on holiday this year, so to offset my carbon emissions I bought a serial killer a camper van”]. Sometimes it’s the truth that’s shocking and hilarious.

Frankie Boyle’s New World Order (BBC, 2019)

Really, and let’s be honest here, does it really help, all this bio-organic buying, carbon offsetting and charity shopping? Probably not. The issue lies with corporations and the ever growing population that props them up.

I genuinely think, and if you love people look away now, that the ‘Voluntary Human Extinction’ movement has something in it. It’s the idea that (no, we don’t all kill ourselves) we stop having kids – simple as that.

Slowly but surely, as people dwindled, Mother Nature would finally have breathing space, to replenish and give new life.

So, this is the first in a series of thoughts which I’ll develop over this year. Despite all of what I’ve just said, it’s not all doom and gloom – my primary focus this year will be researching a view which establishes a sustainable relationship between man and nature. I can’t always promise it’s what’s people will want to hear, though.

I’d like to leave you with this message: Just keep an eye on the more environmentally minded of the people in your surroundings. If they have a baby, they’ve just doubled their carbon emissions. It’s literally the worst thing you can do. I could fly multiple times a year for the rest of my life and not even get close to as bad an impact – I feel it’s the greatest form of hypocrisy today.

It will take drastic action to have an impact, and that stretches beyond buying organic and offsetting carbon. The fact is: we bring down the population and problem solved. So, if you bring down acceleration in population growth, you have your answer.

Possible, but not easy, particularly in less economically developed countries.

I’d love to hear what you make of my view – feel free to write it in the comments. More on this issue this year, so don’t go away – my goal is to find a solution, or at least something resembling one.

Want more? Read my last post here.

All the best everyone.

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