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Simon Leufstedt

How our economy is killing the planet

Yes, hope to read more details about that graph. :)

Industrialization releases a lot of toxins and pollutants in the environment. The more company or industry established, the more possible destruction could happen in our natural resources.

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Ah, yes sorry. I should have added some more details about the graph...

The graphs comes from New Scientist who did a special report last year on how our economy is killing the earth. Unfortunately you need to be a New Scientist subscriber to be able to read the actual articles. But if you are interested you can find the references to the article here.

Basically this graph shows with 12 different variables how much our consumption, economic growth and pollution has increased from between 1750 to 2000. The 12 variables are:

  • Northern hemisphere average surface temperature
  • Population
  • CO2 concentration
  • GDP (Gross domestic product)
  • Loss of tropical rainforest and woodland
  • Water use
  • Species extinctions
  • Motor vehicles
  • Paper consumption
  • Fisheries exploited
  • Foreign investment
  • Ozone depletion

As you can see all of these variables are connected to each other. For example: From the graph we can see that our consumption of paper has increased and as a result the loss of tropical rainforest and woodland has increased. We can also see that the use of motor vehicles has increased and so has the CO2 concentration in our atmosphere. And so on...

From the graph we can also see a major increase in the consumption of various resources and economic growth around the time of the industrial revolution during the late 18th and early 19th century.

In the report several “key thinkers from politics, economics and philosophy” gave their opinions about why they disagree with the current growth dogma. They write:

“Most of us accept the need for a more sustainable way to live, by reducing carbon emissions, developing renewable technology and increasing energy efficiency.

But are these efforts to save the planet doomed? A growing band of experts are looking at figures like these and arguing that personal carbon virtue and collective environmentalism are futile as long as our economic system is built on the assumption of growth. The science tells us that if we are serious about saving Earth, we must reshape our economy.”

Simply put: The only way to save our planet is to change our economic system.

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The picture didn't show on my browser. Can you post it again. I'd really like to see what impact the economy has on the damage that is being done to the environment.

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Nice topic. I like the image and the way they lay things out to explain. I think that more than blaming the economic situation we need to look at the way we handle the economic situation and how taht affects the environment.

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The graph posted here very well explained how fast the planet had been destroyed over the years. And with great differences, huh? Which just proves that our environment is already at worst. What more in the future? Oh I can't stand it just imagining how it would be in Earth 20-50 years from now.

Well, I guess the damage is irreversible. All we can do is preserve what we have now and try to make a change even for simplest ways.

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The graph posted here very well explained how fast the planet had been destroyed over the years. And with great differences, huh? Which just proves that our environment is already at worst. What more in the future? Oh I can't stand it just imagining how it would be in Earth 20-50 years from now.

Well, I guess the damage is irreversible. All we can do is preserve what we have now and try to make a change even for simplest ways.

I dont think the damage is irreversible. There is still time imo. We all just need to change our behavior and way of life...

Oh...

Well... I guess you are right. Carry on... <_<

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Wow, thanx for bumping this up. First time seeing this. Didn't we do something about the ozone layer?

But are these efforts to save the planet doomed? A growing band of experts are looking at figures like these and arguing that personal carbon virtue and collective environmentalism are futile as long as our economic system is built on the assumption of growth. The science tells us that if we are serious about saving Earth, we must reshape our economy.â€

Simply put: The only way to save our planet is to change our economic system.

That's a very good point. Every economic bubble seems to have been built on the expectation of endless growth. If stocks don't increase their value they are no good. If a company doesn't earn more the next year compared to the previous year it's no good. At least that's the impression I get.

Simon Leufstedt likes this

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Of course the damage is irreversible. Put the image upside down and you will see what has to be done.

This is not a joke!

For example:

- Reduce the use of paper and plant trees.

- Use your car less often and choose public transport or start carpooling.

- etc.

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Wow, thanx for bumping this up. First time seeing this. Didn't we do something about the ozone layer?

Well, we sort of did take action against the threats from the ozone hole. The Montreal and Kyoto protocols (ratified by 196 states making it the most successful international agreement so far) did set out a bunch of rules and procedures to reduce the concentration of the offending chemicals in the atmosphere. But they haven't been able to fully restore the stratospheric ozone layer. They have pretty much just lowered the acceleration of ozone damage. Some claim that if the international agreement is followed, the ozone layer is expected to recover by 2050. But I think its pretty clear these days that we need new and more rigorous standards.

Related article on Green Blog: Arctic Ozone Hole’s Effect on Food Supplies this Winter

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There's a great video series called "The Story Of Stuff" that talks about a lot of how our lifestyles and overconsumption is hurting the environment and what we can do about it. It's very informative, witty, and easy to understand, even for children. I highly recommend checking out the videos on the site: http://storyofstuff.org/

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Thanks for sharing that cherrie. I quite like the videos, but my brother doesn't. He says that it sometimes misinforms or oversimplifies. I don't know nearly enough to judge if some of it is false, but most of it sounds absolutely reasonable and believable. We should absolutely redesign our way of life.

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All we can do is help spread the word that anything that reduces pollution and waste using chemicals fossil fuels is a must to help our Mother Earth. Bigger companies are slowly becoming aware and are supporting Biodegradable products,plastic bags are disgusting when you see them blowing down the street in the waterways etc.

Its a very slow process especially in the Asian economies where they want to raise their standard of living like the west.

Boils down to greed :( and people being not happy with what they have and wanting more more more not many people are HAPPY with what they have. If anyone wants information on how they can help in a positive way to their economy just send me a message . smile.png

Thank you

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This is a great post but we cannot kill this planet. Mother Earth is alive and well and adapting rapidly and all the time to the strain we are placing on her. One day she will tire of us...and it is us who will die, not her. We should respect the environment that has been so generously allowed, but we do not. We are very very little in the grand scheme of things.

We have to wake up, so that our future generations can live. Nature is unstoppable. I just saw a beautiful flower growing through a crack in our paving...nothing stops Her.

Unfortunately it seems as if we need MORE earthquakes, more tsunamis and more storms. And we will get it.

Thing is: Earth will survive, we will not. Result? Earth will thrive again and animals can run free...

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The root cause of the destruction of the planet is the economic system. Production is for the anarchic and ruthless pursuit of profit, profit comes before the environment. The only solution is a system based on a rational plan of production, we could then plan production harmoniously with earth and begin the task of repairing the damage caused by capitalism.

NoNukes likes this

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Even if we spread the word, it would not change anything, if it isn't in the people to do something about it. Every few days, I would update my Facebook status with ways to help the environment, and yet, nobody bothers to share them. However, if I posted something funny or ridiculous, people are quick to share or respond. It's frustrating, so I have learned to just do what I can on my own.

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Okay, you want to stop overconsuming then you should probably recycle the tablet, desktop, or labtop you are using. Do you have any idea the economical, ecological, and social damage you have done by purchasing them? Seriously it is easy to talk of cutting, back but half the time it is nothing but hypocritial nonsense. Oh, those "other" people need to stop being wasteful, but not you because you do all the right things except when you don't which is more often the you'd like to admit. That doesn't mean something can't be done - it just means that nothing is likely to be done if everyone can't be upfront with the issues.

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Okay, you want to stop overconsuming then you should probably recycle the tablet, desktop, or labtop you are using. Do you have any idea the economical, ecological, and social damage you have done by purchasing them? Seriously it is easy to talk of cutting, back but half the time it is nothing but hypocritial nonsense. Oh, those "other" people need to stop being wasteful, but not you because you do all the right things except when you don't which is more often the you'd like to admit. That doesn't mean something can't be done - it just means that nothing is likely to be done if everyone can't be upfront with the issues.

By focusing on individuals you lose the bigger picture and the real cause of the problem, which is a system based on the ruthless pursuit of profit. We cannot protect the environment while there is no plan of production. The companies who rule the global economy areonly interested in maximising profits. Most of the oil spill disasters are caused by the petroleum companies cutting costs on safety etc.

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This is a great post but we cannot kill this planet. Mother Earth is alive and well and adapting rapidly and all the time to the strain we are placing on her. One day she will tire of us...and it is us who will die, not her.

Sure, the planet will still be here even if the human race goes extinct. But the problem is, it's not just us humans who will suffer from our actions. We're slashing down the remaining forests, poisoning the oceans and changing the climate. We're already responsible for eradicating animals and species at a higher rate than at any time since the mass extinctions +65 million years ago. So the path to our downfall is, and will be, lined with the death of ecosystems and thousands of other species.

Okay, you want to stop overconsuming then you should probably recycle the tablet, desktop, or labtop you are using. Do you have any idea the economical, ecological, and social damage you have done by purchasing them?

I don't really understand this argument. It feels just as far-fetched as when people complain about Greenpeace using boats or helicopters to stop and protest over-fishing and whatnot.

And I don't really buy this focus on individual responsibility either. Personally, I think individual actions are important, of course. But we will never solve the climate crisis on individual actions alone. For that we need major and far-reaching collective actions, i.e. laws, regulations, subsidies, taxes etc.

By focusing on individuals you lose the bigger picture and the real cause of the problem, which is a system based on the ruthless pursuit of profit. We cannot protect the environment while there is no plan of production. The companies who rule the global economy areonly interested in maximising profits. Most of the oil spill disasters are caused by the petroleum companies cutting costs on safety etc.

Yes, I agree. You often hear from writers, thinkers, politicians and activists that consumers has a lot of power to change and therefore they have a huge responsibility towards climate change. To a certain degree individuals can be held responsible for the climate crisis. Especially when people fail to put pressure on political leaders etc. And sure, often you as a consumer have a choice between organic and/or fair-trade products versus conventional products. But not everyone of us have this option for various reasons.

But consumers can't really be counted nor can they be held responsible for the ecological collapse and climate crisis. Especially not when we have a market that is manipulated and dominated by huge corporations (many whom are larger and hold more power than single nation states) that constantly use their influence and power to change consumer's minds and behaviors. And consumers aren't equal, we all have different power and influence depending on how much money we have. And we don't really have a choice in the market when most products and services are mainly offered and controlled by a few huge corporations. And finally, consumers don't control or own the means to production,

So basically, what I am trying to say is: individual responsibility is important but it can only take us so far. Corporations and governments are the ones who can truly create change. And thus they also have the main responsibility. Environmental policy professor Thomas Princen said it well:

"In the end the idea of consumer sovereignty doesn’t add up. It is a myth convenient for those who would locate responsibility for social and environmental problems on the backs of consumers, absolving those who truly have market power and who write the rules of the game and who benefit the most."

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