Mother Earth? Fill ‘er up.

2 Oct

Once upon a time petrol, oil & coal were the go-to words when discussing foreign politics, civil war, sovereignty and global powers. The old ‘fill ‘er up’ mindset dominated global politics when petrol, fuel, oil, coal…were the greatest commodity on earth. Forget human resources, booming military might, clever presidential campaigns; the world was all into oil. Just ask any left wing literature lecturer and [s]he’ll tell you (in an Aussie accent slightly tinged with British sophistication):

It’s all about the oil. The West is just dying to fill ‘er up with oil. Just look at the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Oil.

Now, let’s not get into political debate here. No-one’s taking sides. Because I’m actually just about to drop a bomb (are we allowed to say ‘bomb’ out loud yet?) Global politics is no longer about oil and bloating our own national-interest-bellies with it. The truth is, the world is already full. And not with oil. As Paul Gilding writes for CNN (See Article: The Earth is Full):

the earth is full…we’re living beyond our means

It’s a horrifying truth and a terrifying reality. The question is posed, is the world’s natural resources, the physical land mass available, fresh water, open spaces actually enough to satisfy such a growing global population? The answer is a resounding: NO

No-one is making a mountain out of a molehill here. There are just some solid facts that need re-iterating. Par exemple:

The eminent scientists of the Global Footprint Network, for example, calculate that we need about 1.5 Earths to sustain this economy. In other words, to keep operating at our current level, we need 50% more Earth than we’ve got.

Well heck. That’s a lot of Earth that doesn’t actually exist. Interestingly however, good old Paul Gilding brings up something sort of, well, simultaneously horrendous and comforting; despite the freakishly fast deteriorating natural world, politicians don’t really give a damn. Global financial leaders don’t really give a damn. In other words, everyone that matters DOES NOT GIVE A DAMN. Damn.

Well, that’s the horrendous side. The comforting side is this; the deterioration of the natural world is inextricably linked with the deterioration of the economy, as economic ‘means’ purchase the natural world ‘goods’. Therefore, they’re going to have to give a damn sooner or later; when they realise – which Paul argues they are starting to now – that the economic world is going to face the apocalypse before the social, political or environmental world. Here are some nice summarising quotes from a series of articles on the topic that may clarify the link between economics and environmental concerns (which I found using google reader and my trusty RSS Feeds to conduct research):

  • Economic growth has limits…Belief in infinite growth on a finite planet was always irrational, but it is the nature of denial to ignore hard evidence. (find original source here)
  • There are still leaders and laggards but the drive for action is growing, as is the number of investors requesting emissions data. Governments seeking to build strong economies should take note. (find original source here)
  • The fact is that no compound growth is sustainable. If we maintain our desperate focus on growth, we will run out of everything and crash. (find original source here)
  • Peak oil expert Richard Heinberg argues, we are moving beyond peak oil and into “peak everything.” (find original source here)
  • More than one-third (37%) see the physical risks of a changing climate as a real and present danger, up from just 10% two years ago, says the latest Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) Global 500 report, a survey of top global companies.(find original source here)

So what’s all the talk about? And what does this all indicate? Well perhaps it’s saying we need a new approach to climate change. The mass media, the marketers, the business strategists and environmentalist lobby groups would do better to hit the kings and queens of this world, where it hurts most . Kings and queens being global political power heads – essentially transnational corporations and key political bodies – and ‘the place it hurts most’ being the pocket. THE POCKET, PEOPLE. Kings and queens don’t care about the peasants. They care about the pocket. Finances, economics, money.

I mean, for heavens’ sake, for years advertising and media analysts have confirmed the importance of the need for Marketers to ‘care’ about social responsibility. An article on the hubspot marketing blog (see here) reiterates the importance of marketing strategies incorporating this mentality of environmental and social concern. The article notes.:

Marketers are sometimes associated with some pretty negative terms: annoying, interruptive, manipulative.

And this is true! Because they lie and probe and dart around the truth, so often. But why not use the immense power bestowed on them for good. If environmental-related articles were less about tabloid fun facts such as ‘FISH WILL BE A QUARTER OF THEIR SIZE IN YEARS TO COME!’ (see article on shrinking fish, I kid you not, here) and more on the severe impact environmental negligence will have on economic growth and sustainability, then we’d grab the attention of the people who ACTUALLY RUN THE WORLD. The men in suits with expensive reading glasses who read about finances, not fish. I rest my case.

(image source: CartoonStock – http://www.cartoonstock.com/directory/r/reading_the_newspaper.asp)

Sources: 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/sep/30/fish-shrink-climate-change

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/sep/12/climate-change-business-cdp

http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/33650/Why-Marketers-Need-to-Start-Caring-About-Social-Responsibility

http://edition.cnn.com/2012/04/08/opinion/gilding-earth-limits/index.

http://www.ted.com/talks/paddy_ashdown_the_global_power_shift.html

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One Response to “Mother Earth? Fill ‘er up.”

  1. Barbra & Jack Donachy October 2, 2012 at 5:49 pm #

    We are heartened to see more and more people discussing overpopulation. As a respected biologist put it several decades ago, “Every other problem humankind faces is trivial next to the way we have overpopulated our planet.”

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