I was stirred to write my first blog on this subject by the fact that if we continue to cut down the Amazon rain forest at the current rate there will be none left in two hundred years. A situation fed by poverty and our consumption minded society in the ‘west’. I speculate that if we leave earth we might appreciate what we have and perhaps we will look after it a little better. Also with resources a plenty out there we might stop our headlong rush to exhaust the planet of everything it possess. Everything the planet has accumulated over billions of years we humans will use up in just a few hundred years if we carry on at this rate. Not to mention the problems associated with global warming and rising sea levels.
How selfish are we as a species, as a generation? Despite knowing all this we continue to consume and throw away at a rate that would have appalled our grandparents generation. The days of repair, improve, upgrade are long gone it seems. To have ’the latest’ is almost a badge of honour and the manufacturers continue to convince us (after all they want to sell more product) that we must have this or that for our lives to be complete. They never are of course, because as soon as we’ve purchased that dream product there is a new improved, faster, larger, sharper version on the market. I don’t exclude myself from this consumption fever. My computer is slowing down, showing its age. But do I think of upgrading, improving its performance so it can last another year or two. Of course not. I’m already looking at the reviews, the glossy ads and wondering if I need a laptop this time, windows or mac. Or another desk top, then a laptop as well if I need one. And the old one, remove the hard drive then down to the local waste dump. I understand that some of it will be recycled, but how much, I don’t know.
Then when the shiny new one arrives there will be that other area of useless waste – the packaging. I’m sitting at a new desk. I’ve taken all the cardboard to the recycling centre, but the polystyrene? I guess that goes into to landfill never to be used again. I’ve have received things where paper and card has been used instead, so why do we allow the continued use of this dreadful stuff? Why do we allow the use of plastic packaging that can’t be recycled. We need to package food but why a wrapper within a wrapper, within a wrapper ?
I know some things are improving, my local authority will take more and more waste for recycling. I try to use freecycle for things I no longer need but have some life left in them. But it still seems to be just scratching the
surface, a nod to what’s really needed, a green badge or sticker to make us feel better. The volume of stuff I as one individual just ‘throw away’ on an annual basis seems unsustainable to me.
Perhaps it’s an age thing. Perhaps it’s because as a reader of science fiction I’ve read too many post apocalypse novels. Or maybe it’s because as a writer I’ve struggled with my own ‘end of the world as we know it’ scenario in ‘Project Noah’. As I said last time I want to leave the wonders of this world intact for my children’s, children’s, children. As a scientist and a science fiction writer I am an optimist about what the human race can achieve when it puts its collective mind to something. I just hope that, as in Project Noah, it’s not too late.
Some great and interesting comments last time – I look forward to more.
Ian Martyn (apologising for the rant)