Christmas may seem like a distant memory but the environmental effect of the annual consumer frenzy, over-indulgence and extravagance is lasting damage. And year on year the cost to the planet grows.
Pollution has become an everyday affair; a murderous way of life which, according to a report published in The Lancet, is responsible for the deaths of at least nine million people every year. The air we breathe is poisoned, the streams, rivers, lakes and oceans are filthy, — some more, some less — the land littered with waste, the soil toxic. Neglect, complacency and exploitation characterize the attitude of governments, corporations and far too many individuals towards the life of the planet, and its rich interwoven ecological systems.
Man-made climate change, and the interconnected environmental catastrophe more broadly constitute the most urgent crisis facing humanity. It has come about as the result of a certain way of life, a materialistic approach to living in which greed and excessive consumption has been championed.
The Paris Agreement on climate change, signed in November 2016, was the first time all the world’s nations (except Nicaragua and Syria) committed to reduce emissions and cap man-made global warming.
In the early 1900s when the idea that industrialisation could potentially result in global warming was first posited, the consensus was that it was unlikely, and in any case, an increase in temperature was to be welcomed. What possible harm could it do?
Well, we are now witnessing the widespread consequences of climate change. Destructive, life-threatening effects, which demand a fundamental shift in the way we are living if we are to preserve the integrity of the planet, and protect the rich abundance of life on Earth.
Commercialisation has poisoned all areas of contemporary life, and together with its partner in crime, consumerism, is the principle cause of man-made climate change. Operating under the suffocating shadow of neo-liberalism, the market forces of commercialisation act blindly and indiscriminately. The presiding deity is money; the goal of endeavour quick profit and limitless growth – no matter what the human or environmental costs may be.
The man-made environmental catastrophe is the severest issue facing humanity. It should be the number one priority for governments, but despite repeated calls from scientists, environmental groups and concerned citizens for years, short-term policies and economic self-interest are consistently given priority over the integrity of the planet and the health of the population.