Since the industrial revolution took the world by storm three variables have exponentially increased. These three things are population, the rate at which new technologies are created and pollution. At first glance most people would only consider one of these a problem, however, I would say that all three of them are. I know we are supposed to choose only one issue but I think these issues go hand in hand and trying to solve one could potentially make others worse. Population has increased as a result of our excessive mechanised integration. Our ability to produce more food and accumulate more wealth has created an environment where growth is encouraged and it enables people to provide for more children and larger families. Advances in technology, particularly in medicine, have vastly increased the human lifespan; every generation lives longer and longer. These breakthroughs have contributed to a flourishing society whose advances in economics and politics can be attributed as such. From this, it is clear that population and technological advancement are tied together.
The third variable, pollution, is the largest problem in my opinion. As a result of our excessive consumption, made possible by rapid growth in population and technology, the world has become polluted to an extent to which we do not currently understand. Global Warming is a real phenomenon and based on the past 6 months being the warmest for this time of year in recorded history it is already effecting us. We may enjoy the warm winters now but what happens when ice caps melt and some of our biggest cities are underwater? What happens when the weather changes so frequently that crops necessary to our survival can no longer be grown? Even if they aren’t for us if we run out of food to feed cattle and pigs then we have no more meat for us. The implications of these problems are shocking and would be quite life changing but for some reason a huge majority of people don’t think that these problems exist. Conservative politicians will outright deny that the Earth is warming. I do not know what makes people think that way, perhaps its religion or maybe its greed but, whatever it is, our mindset towards global sustainability needs to change.
Many people jump to the conclusion that in order to solve this issue the population has to be controlled, or we need to start consuming a whole lot less. Some conservative politicians say that factories will be left vacated and the world will turn into a wasteland if we try to address these issues… which is exactly what will happen if we ignore them. Many people such as Al Gore and Bernie Sanders speak for these issues and attempt to align the American people in such a way that combats global warming and pollution. It is not just greenhouse gases that are harming the Earth, our excessive use of plastic and crowding of landfills also contributes to environmental harm. Global Warming is simply an issue caused externally by the release of too many greenhouse gases, but our waste problems cause discourse in the Earth’s core and corrupt the land that we live on.
Now, unfortunately, I can’t detail a plan that will for sure eradicate these issues entirely but I can outline a few steps we can take that will lead us in the right direction. The first step is awareness. Governments, businesses and every day people need to acknowledge the reality of environmental pollution and help spread global awareness.The second step is taking action. The same stakeholders need to set forth an initiative that alters the way we consume and develop as society. Outputs from businesses need to become environmentally efficient, this can be accomplished by implementing governmental policy that mandates these changes and regulates efficiency. Everyday people will contribute by altering their spending habits and spending more on sustainable goods, boycotting anything that contributes to environmental harm. We need to make being sustainable and environmentally friendly cool.
Everyone alive today is the product of rapid growth, as that has become the norm in our society. Similarly the stock market operates with the idea that it will infinitely and rapidly grow. That is an issue in itself but it shows that growth is a theme that we have used to define almost every new aspect of society since the industrial revolution. We need to evolve and adapt to the idea that rapid growth is not realistic, we can continue to achieve bigger and better things but there are sacrifices that need to be made. Just like capitalism makes winners and losers, we have to choose not to succumb to nature as the victor. Once the first two steps have been taken we need to dedicate our resources to finding more sustainable ways to produce the goods that we need while at the same time limiting our consumption of excessive and ‘luxury’ goods.
Many of these steps have already been taken and it is up to more than just governments and businesses to take action. Fortunately though, governments and businesses influence society greatly and they can take an active role in changing our perspective. I cannot say for sure that an individual company meant to combat this social issue can be effective, but every contribution helps and this is the mindset that we all need to have if we want to succeed. If everybody thinks that their contribution alone isn’t enough then no one will take action but if many people can agree on the same principles then we can really start getting somewhere. Relating back to population growth and technological advancement, I think our initiative to conserve will lead to lower population growth as people will look to spend less in a time of economic uncertainty which I believe is still ahead of us. On the other hand, technology needs to continue to advance, we need to find more efficient and effective ways to do some of the remedial tasks today that add so much pollution to the atmosphere. One example, is the transportation system and our sourcing of energy. What we need is someone to do to global sustainability what Steve Jobs did to Apple – make it cool.