It’s not our problem


Opinion – No Planet B – By Peter Matthews.

Broadly speaking, my brief is to write a weekly column, with the odd digression, on environmental issues. Some weeks I feel more optimistic than others. This is not one of those weeks. Sometimes a quick scan of the news brings one stumbling to the realisation that despite the efforts of many wonderful and tireless people there is really no hope for the planet. That is to say, there is no hope for the planet as we knew it.

The seas are rising; the ice caps are melting; human activity has wiped out 60% of wildlife since 1970; atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations continue to rise.

These trends are not about to change any time soon; it’s easy to see that by looking around. Modern consumer society takes all and gives nothing – and that’s because we the people want to have all the nice things. Let’s face it – the average person in the street couldn’t care less if the Greater Spotted Womble Thrip becomes extinct. They would care if it meant they couldn’t have their new car in the right shade of currant but it doesn’t so they don’t. There are those who don’t even acknowledge that a problem exists: I, personally, cannot conceive of any way of looking at the wealth of scientific research on climate change which could lead to the conclusion that there is nothing to worry about. But then I didn’t think Trump was going to be elected either.

I happened to see an item on TV today in which apparently normal people were outraged by the fact that their washing machines were tangling their clothes. If only they could be so outraged that the human race is wrecking the environment.

Then you walk down any main street in the country and you’ll see people buying things they don’t need, driving cars the size of tanks, throwing takeaway containers in the rubbish, drinking water from plastic bottles lest they dehydrate before they reach the next tap.

Why though? In the face of such overwhelming evidence to the contrary, why do we continue to behave as though there is no problem?

My opinion is that it is because it doesn’t affect us – yet. As I mentioned, the seas are rising – and pretty soon, but probably after most of us have escaped this mortal coil with our consciences intact, the water will be lapping at our feet. If not our feet, certainly our children’s, but we’ll be off the hook by then.

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