Under Microscope

It's another world under the microscope.

Environmental Catastrophe: Consumerism

Industrialization without question improved the living standards of many people, both in the developed and developing parts of the world. The agricultural revolution, through fertilizers, and genetic engineering fed billions of people. Industrial machines improved the working conditions of just as many people while at the same time increased their productivity multiple orders of magnitude. As a result of these changes, both food and other goods became increasingly affordable for the larger part of humanity. These advantages of industry and innovation must not be ignored or even understated.
Unfortunately, these improvements came at a cost as well. As a direct result of these improvements in the human condition, the effects of industry have become an unbearable burden on the shoulders of the planet. This issue must not be discussed from only a moral perspective since the real and immediate effects of this environmental catastrophe will be a direct hit to the living standards of every individual in the world.
While it is true that most people are at least superficially aware of the risks, their reactions certainly imply that they are not fully aware of the immediate consequences, or at the very least they are overly optimistic about the promises of potential scientific innovations. There are many activists who constantly challenge this lack of interest from the people of the world. However, they constantly fail at devising a solution to the issue as well. Their statements are either vague or simply assume that most of the world should accept their current economic misfortune to be a permanent situation.
Whatever happens, scientific innovations certainly will not solve this environmental catastrophe that we willingly and knowingly created. Our economic models are still based on a few success metrics that simply ignore the environmental effects. Growth and employment are at the center of every politician’s agenda, while most of the developing world needs to get poorer. Yes. That is exactly right. The developed world needs to get poorer in the conventional sense. We need more national parks and fewer gardens. Smaller homes and bigger communities. We need to learn to enjoy a hot summer day under the shade of a tent and turn off the air conditioner for good. We need to learn how to take a bus and stop blindly commuting to jobs that certainly do not need commuting. We need to learn to eat less meat and allow nature to reclaim some parts of the planet back. We need to understand that we cannot be flying around the planet as we please and we need to learn to shame the people who do this rather than envy them. As some millionaire and billionaire activists claim, the root of the problem is not the corporations and the governments. The root of the problem is the consumer. As long as we consume, some people will see this as an opportunity to claim more for themselves. If we can accept living a better life and stop calling it a poorer life, we may have a shot at overcoming this crisis, but if we fail to recognize the culprit that is consumerism, we are sure to fail.