Time to wake up from our Island Dream.
Today, 22 August 2020, is Earth Overshoot Day. By today humanity has used all the biological resources that Earth can renew during the entire year. From now on we are borrowing from the future and stealing from each other.
Enough from the trumpet of the prophet of doom. What does it mean and how can we change it? ‘Options!’ – as StarTrek’s Captain Picard would say. I’ve been indulging in newspaper articles and websites again and this is what I learnt. ‘The 18th century economist Thomas Malthus … theorised that food production could not keep up with human population growth, leading to starvation, war, disease and general catastrophe.’ The United Nations estimate that the current world population is 7.8 billion ( www.worldometers.info ). We would all fit onto the Isle of Islay and there would still be space for a whisky distillery or two, but this is not the point. Some of us use more than others. The more we use, the more waste we create. As a child I was told: You can’t just take what you want. What is it you need? Today a lot of us follow the 7 Rs: ‘rethink – reduce – re-use – repair – refurbish – recover – recycle’. It all starts in our heads. It makes me sad to hear newsreaders compare current economic figures to ‘pre-Covid’ ones. It makes me even more sad when I hear some of my colleagues in tourism bemoan the age of Overtourism – NO! Re-think! Did I tell you that as a youngster I went to Uni to study economics? I believe(d) economics could change the world. So I was overjoyed to read about the ‘Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WEAII)’, a team of scientists dedicated to ‘delivering social justice on a healthy planet’, wanting to transform ‘the economic system into one that delivers human and ecological wellbeing’ – a wellbeing economy holding a ‘qualitative lens around what sort of economic growth we need’ … a New Gold Dream?! Re-think! It all starts in our heads. Let it start today on Earth Overshoot Day. The larder is empty.
[Inspired by The Herald’s Saturday Column on Earth Overshoot Day.]