Friday, 1 March 2013

Living lightly

I've gained a stronger and stronger sense in recent years that its become much harder to persuade people of the green case. I've heard it when working and campaigning and seen it in the results (with a few notable exceptions) of local and national elections I've been a candidate in. I'm therefore not surprised at poll results showing widespread low levels of public concern about the environment (see report extract below*), though there is often more to these things than meets the eye. Greens around the globe have so far failed to effectively get across their total case - that its about prosperous living, where people can flourish and thrive, in a sustainable society free from: waste; resource squandering; pollution; inequality; unfairness; and weakening community (see here). 

*Public concern in environmental issues including global warming, the loss of species and air pollution has dropped to its lowest level in two decades, according to an international poll released this week.

The
GlobeScan poll, undertaken last summer before superstorm Sandy hit the Caribbean and New York, showed levels of public concern in 12 countries over environmental problems – which also also included fresh water shortages and depletion of natural resources – were even lower than 1992, when the first Earth summit was held in Rio.

The decline has come in a period when the signs of environmental degradation have become clearer and the science stronger, from species going extinct faster than new ones can evolve to dramatic climate change impacts such as the shrinking of Arctic sea ice in 2012 by 18% against the previous record.

Doug Miller, chairman of GlobeScan, said in
a statement: "Evidence of environmental damage is stronger than ever, but our data shows that economic crisis and a lack of political leadership mean that the public are starting to tune out."...Full Guardian story here.

The public, rightly worried about the state of the economy and society, still see 'green' as just about the biological and physical environment. Its not been made clear that the environment is not just our surroundings or the biophysical world but also humans and their social, economic and other systems. We and our systems are a part of the environment, are dependent on it biologically, physically, socially and economically. There are multidimensional interrelationships and feedbacks between the biophysical and socio-economic.We are always linked in and are not in control. More here.
If we dont live sustainably then we wont have a dynamically stable and secure society able to persist over time (see here). To solve interdependent socio-economic and environmental problems we need to ensure that: efficiency has replaced waste; renewability has replaced squandering; living within environmental limits has replaced pollution and resource depletion; socio-economic goals are geared to wellbeing for all, not more and more money flow for a few; this generation and those to come, the world over, are getting their dues; and local communities are empowered.

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