How many days have I got left?

Wasting my life away, one day at a time...

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Global warming is your fault

I read something in a blog today that got me thinking about the population-resource crisis, and why over-population isn't one of those "buzz words" that are popping up over the place like others seem to be. I think this is partly because the huge boom in world population isn't the major reason why the planet is being stripped of its resources at such an alarming rate. If you look at it simply, it is a major factor - more people therefore more consumption of resources, however, most of us know that the lifestyle of people around the globe is by no means uniform. People in developing countries consume nowhere near as much as those in the west, and I think the extent of the divide is well illustrated by the fact that just 8 countries, which account for 14% of the world's population, are responsible for roughly half of total carbon emissions. If you aren't able to imagine it already, that and other similar figures are pretty powerful in highlighting who is doing the over-consuming here. It isn't a clear cut case of too many people. The populations in these 8 countries are fairly stable, and it's in poorer or industrialising countries where living standards have only just started to improve where the real problem concerning population growth is.

However, is it actually a problem? It depends how you look at this context it is, but to these countries, where they're finally getting access to things that we have had in the west for a long time, it's an achievement. Yes, China are responsible for pumping out millions (or billions?) of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, but is it right to blame them for wanting to better their economy and achieve a better quality of life for their people? I'm not really sure where I stand on the issue - I do care very much about the environment, but I'm not satisfied with taking on the short sighted view that quickly developing countries like India and China are simply the problem. WE demand goods which are manufactured in these countries. It's OUR problem. I mean, if I look around my room, the vast majority of what I own is probably highly unsustainable, and if I think about it, it bothers me, but I feel like there's not much I can do but at least try to acknowledge this, and hope to make those sort of changes later in my life when I'm in a better position to do so.

When looking at global problems, there are many different angles, and it's hard to take them all into account. What I think I find most difficult is the fact that MY lifestyle is contributing to the problem. The country I live in is one of the huge consumers, and it's our fault that there are people on the other side of the Earth who are starving. I have enough money to buy food which has been imported from these countries, and yet the people there can't even afford to feed themselves. And yes, I do buy these foods, as does everyone many people in Ghana are actually able to eat chocolate on a regular basis? Or ever? It would be absurd if I said I was going to give up using electricity, gas, modern plumbing, plastic goods...if everyone did this, I'm pretty sure the world "crisis" (or crises) would be solved, but saying that I'd pretty much hate my life if it was stripped of all the western luxuries that I'm used to is not an exaggeration.

Honestly, think about it...isn't it a depressing realisation? I think that "GLOBAL WARMING IS YOUR FAULT" sticker I've seen on lamp posts around Clifton isn't such a radical statement after all.I also did a carbon footprint test thing at the festival of nature, and mine turned out to be a gigantic red one. This was because of the long haul flight I'm taking this summer, and if it wasn't for that, I think it'd be green. I don't really know how to react to that. It didn't make me want to cancel my trip, but made me a bit scornful of the fact that all the plastic bag refusal, recycling and energy saving won't do shit against my flight halfway across the world. This too is depressing, although, at least I can be comforted by the fact that I actually CARE. Unlike some -- "when I was booking my plane ticket the other day, they asked me if I wanted to pay £20 to offset my carbon emissions..erm, NO, do I care?". I'm astounded that young, educated people actually continue to make these sort of comments. Hopefully she's in the minority. On a side note, the people that know full well the implications of climate change and continue to have such an attitude towards it are often those who won't actually feel the extent of its effects..the most they'll probably suffer from is the blow when they discover that fuel prices have risen again next time they visit the petrol station, let alone crop shortages, drought, famine or floods. Where's the justice in that?


Any comments? Anyone even reading this? No, I didn't think so...