Opinion, by David Wingate
I cannot stress strongly enough that this is a last-chance, life-or-death situation, not only for human civilisation as we know it, but for the biosphere (all life) as a whole.
We have let this creep up on us without serious consideration for far too long, and even if we do address it seriously now we are still facing the juggernaut of runaway human population increase combined with still increasing material standards of living in all First World countries at the sacrifice of the environment and quality of life.
Third World countries on the other hand are already on the verge of environmental disaster, caused mainly by First World pollution combined with local overpopulation. It will be like stopping a heavy freight train on a collision course and getting it into reverse, which takes time that we don’t have to spare.
This is not the kind of crisis that can be addressed by Sunday outings of volunteers for picking up plastic flotsam from our beaches, or doing the same for a litter clean-up on our roadsides.
While the educational value of these efforts is useful, it is addressing the problem at the back end, which is the most futile and inefficient way of addressing it. We need to be tackling the problem at the front end – the coal and oil extraction and industrial manufacturing end, which Bermuda can play no part in and is at the mercy of.
The only way that we can make a proportionately significant contribution to the crisis is by reducing wasteful consumption, given that we have one of the highest standards of material consumption in the world, and the two areas which are the most environmentally harmful in this regard are plastic consumption and gas or diesel operated motor vehicle consumption, so these are the areas to focus on, along with the need to transition to solar and wind power generation to provide the energy for this change.
This is going to mean some very painful belt tightening, causing a temporary, if not long-term economic disruption and lowering of the standard of living, with the only alternative being a collapse of human civilisation as a whole. Needless to say, such changes will be politically unpopular and almost impossible to implement in a democracy because of vested interests by wealthy people with powerful political clout who can influence elections. The only answer to this is education. Everyone, including the most wealthy and all the politicians, must become aware that the only alternative to belt tightening will be catastrophe, where everyone loses.