climate change environment politics

Carry on consuming

“We are changing the way we live not so that we don’t consume and get the material benefits that people like ourselves actually enjoy, but we are changing it so that we do so in a way that is sustainable.”
Tony Blair, The Climate Group

“I’m convinced that there’s no necessary trade-off between a low-carbon future and more or less transport.”
Lord Adonis, UK Transport Minister

Two quotes in two days from British politicians adamant that climate change won’t require any sacrifices of us at all. I can see why they say it – they are politicians, and they feel they have to ‘sell’ a low carbon future to the public. I agree that telling people the future is going to be bleak unless they give up all their favourite things is no way to motivate them, but there is another way. That other way is to blow the whistle on the endless growth, the consumption and the hypermobility, and point out that we’d be happier and healthier with a smaller, slower world.

It simply isn’t true that we can carry on as usual and avert environmental disaster, because climate change is not the only environmental problem. Even if our technology can stave off climate change, overconsumption is still responsible for species extinctions, fresh water shortages, pollution and deforestation.

We’ve lost a fifth of the Amazon since 197o. There is a trash island the size of the continental United States in the Pacific Ocean.  There will be no edible fish in the sea by 2048. The IUCN estimates that 16,928 species are currently endangered. All told, we are overshooting the earth’s capacity by 30%.

Honestly, can we really go on consuming?


  1. Isn’t a future without our favourite things going to be bleak anyway?

    It’s an interesting paradox that we’ve never been so technologically advanced, and had so much information at our fingertips with the internet, yet we’re going to have to limit ourselves in what we do and where we go.

    It’s like, we’re more aware of opportunities and possibilities, but we’re equally aware that we shouldn’t/won’t be able to do those things, because of the effect on the environment.

    You’ve grown up in different countries and are well travelled, how do you feel about living a ‘local’ life in Luton from now on?

    Life without travel definately seems pretty bleak to me.

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