One of my good friends was harassing me this morning, I had barely started my second coffee and was struggling to get enough neurons firing for coherent thought when, there he was, throwing posts and articles at me, forcing me to respond by waving them in front of me on my screen.
One that caught my eye and attention was drawing attention to the state of the world due to Overpopulation and over consumption. It had some nice pictures to make it’s point but managed to miss the point entirely.
The problem is NOT overpopulation, nor to a certain degree is it over consumption.
We have the ability to feed the world population and continue to do so as it reaches 10 billion which it is predicted to do over the next fifty years.
The problem is that our economy is set up to benefit big business and big profit NOT to benefit the population at large. We produce enough food now to feed the world population, but since there is a cost involved in shipping to areas where people need food and those areas tend to be the poorest in the world so there is no profit for big business to try and sell food in those places.
As much as a third of the food grown and produced for our supermarkets is rejected because it does not fit the marketing image of what our food should look like, not the right colour, not round enough, too straight, too small or big. Perfectly edible food, discarded because our 21st century image of food driven by big business is such that people hesitate to buy food that does not exactly fit the picture they have been taught.
Since many of the producers and suppliers are tied to contracts that prevent them from selling to any other company than that one supermarket or whole seller the food is dumped.
Millions of tons of good food, destroyed or fed to animals because, we, the customers are taught that it is no good unless it fits the super market advertising standards. People go hungry in parts of the world while food is destroyed in other parts of the world because we want round red tomatoes and curved yellow bananas and oranges that are round and orange. We fall for the marketing, we don’t want to buy those straight bananas or yellow oranges so there is no profit in trying to sell them. Big businesses don’t sell them because we don’t buy them, they advertise only the perfect product, we buy only the perfect product, the rest is dumped.
Sustainable is a bit more expensive, if we don’t pay more then those big profits vanish which is why big business isn’t interested. North sea fishing quotas are decimating fish stocks, a ship that catches tons of fish it doesn’t have a quota for dumps them, dead, back into the ocean. How expensive and complex would it be with our technology to set up a system where we don’t waste such catches and instead spread them collectively instead of killing the fish needlessly?
Cutting down the rain forests to create fields that turn to dust the next year so more rain forests are cut down. How insane is that, but often its the only way the locals can grow food because its too expensive to buy in based on the prices we pay western big businesses.
Unsustainable, destructive, short sighted. These are the problems with the way we produce food, not running out.
We are taking far too long to adopt realistic renewable energies, we have the technology, what we do not have is the political will since big business is making far too much money and has far too much influence with our scumbag corrupt political class. Building a gas power station produces electricity and will need a constant supply of gas to burn, which big business will be happy to sell for a tidy profit while we turn a blind eye to the fact that those wind farms are actually guarantees of future sales for the oil and gas companies.
We don’t object so big business and big profit roll on, making money hand over fist and being allowed to do so by the politicians we continue to vote into office despite the fact that again and again they let us down, serve their own interests and serve their masters in big business and big profit.
People want renewable and want to be seen to be green so they support the easy option and the political choice, wind turbines, the least reliable, least predictable method of renewable power generation, a scam that creates huge profits for land owners and big businesses through subsidies put in place by the politicians bought and paid for by those big businesses and voted into power by us.
Then they quietly build gas power stations to produce the electricity the wind turbines should produce but don’t.
Everyone makes a profit except us but we say nothing and keep electing the same old politicians.
Big business cannot claim those same tidy long term profits because renewable power needs no consumables or hydrocarbons. Why is it we see loads of wind turbines and no research and development of tidal or ocean stream, that would be those big profits.
So we see gas and nuclear burning resources and we don't see tidal, which given that the UK along with Norway have the best tidal potential in Europe and the British and Irish coastlines cannot just power most of the UK but sell power to Europe is crazy.
But we say nothing. Consent by silence till they come fracking under our gardens, then we protest but by then it’s too late. We aren't running out of oil and never will, we are just running out of cheap easy to access oil and gas that can be extracted without destroying the environment.
Resources, again we do nothing while big business make big profit. Everything we buy is made to fall apart and be replaced, not repaired, but replaced. From our cars to our household items. How many people these days drive ten year old cars by choice, continuing to use them and maintain them rather than rushing out to buy a new one every few years. Problem with your PC or phone, replace the whole motherboard or buy a new one, washing machine outside of its warranty, getting in someone and a few parts are more than buying a whole new one so we buy a new one.
We don't want to pay a bit more for something that will last longer, instead we are happy to by rubbish that falls apart and needs replacing again and again, big market, big profit, big waste.
Our recycling rates are appalling, all metals, most plastics, all papers / cardboard etc are recyclable and therefore by reusing them we can take old items, make new ones and use them without needing to constantly dig out more except to replace wear and tear.
But there is little profit in recycling and big profit in selling us something new while throwing the old one into a hole in the ground, ever more landfills that are huge and growing. We don’t like buying recycled or there would be a much bigger market and more profits to attract those big businesses.
We want shiny and new so that is what big business makes regardless of the long term consequences.
More money means bigger profits which in turn makes it worthwhile to explore those hard to reach areas or use new technology.
There is enough oil in the Falklands, under the arctic and ant arctic, around Canada, of the coast of Israel etc to make the middle east look like a small puddle. But it’s harder to get to, more costly to extract, will have a bigger environmental impact. But as the price rises it becomes viable to extract it, it becomes affordable to bribe the politicians and drill or frack.
The problem is economic in that the higher price becomes affordability to large parts of the population. Just as with food, areas of the world could and in all likelihood will end up without petrol or gas not because there is none available but simply because they cannot afford it. Big business and big profits again.
We are not over populated. We are over consuming but that is because we are deliberately wasteful.
The problem is that we live in a world shaped by the profit margin, where there is no profit then people go hungry while huge quantities of food are destroyed where there is profit to be made.
Buying new creates more profit than recycling, constant demand for fuel creates more profit than the front loaded setup costs of renewable.
The real problem is Big Business, Big Profit and Big Money and the fact that we allow them to rule our lives, our society and our environment. Those are the real reasons why people are suffering. Those of us who live in the quarter of the world that is rich are responsible for the prices we pay, the items we buy and the way we live. The other three quarters suffer as a result of our prices and consumption.
We allow big businesses to manipulate us so they can make big profits, we allow politicians to lie to us and maintain a system where big profit replaces humanitarian concerns. We live in and accept an economic system that is insanely destructive.
We are not running out of space to live or food to eat or fuel or electricity, what we are doing is running a world where far too many of us cannot afford the space or the food or the heating.