Way we have treated planet is not sustainable

Date: Tuesday 7th May 2019

IT seems like the world spins round on opinions — some say the world was formed 4,000 years ago; some doubt man has landed on the Moon; some say the world is flat; some deny the Holocaust. We have information and data on everything and that includes misinformation as well as false news.

Whether the world was formed 4,000 years or four billion years ago does not really have a direct effect on us now, but climate change and the continuing need of the human race to consume is having and will continue to have its effect on us all.

I was born in 1951 when the world population was 2.7 billion. It is now 7.7 billion — a huge increase and still rocketing. The UK population was 50.7 million and is now 67 million, nothing like the same per centage increase, as the world, but how much more affluent we are now.

In the 1950s Penrith was well supplied with shops but nothing like the selection we have nowadays as well as access to the internet. This will have been replicated throughout the UK and the world to help feed the needs of our species which has evolved from homo sapien to homo consumer.

The “health” of the country is now calculated by what we spend and many businesses — run by companies which answerable to shareholders, the Stock Exchange, pension funds, personal interests, etc — are dependent upon this consumption. The population increase has seen the spread of humans and human activity such as deforestation; increased use of resources such as water and minerals; energy production; and the need for food sources. In 2015 the Global Footprint Network calculated that we were then 150 per cent above the capacity of our planet to replace essential “services”. With population increase and affluence it is predicted that by 2050 we will be at 300 to 500 per cent above the carrying capacity — you don’t need an MBA to know that is environmental bankruptcy.

It is heartening to see Greta Thunberg leading the way with her voice and the school protests around the world, but I feel that my generation has failed these youngsters.

We also have Extinction Rebellion — the news seemed only to highlight the difficulties caused by the protest in London and not trying to solve the much wider global issues which are much greater than a bit of inconvenience.

The plight and future of the Earth has been highlighted, for me, recently by two matters:

I am now a grandfather with a delightful granddaughter, but when I look at her I wonder what sort of a world she and her generation will have inherited.

My daughter (and also a doting aunt) was in London for the Extinction Rebellion protest and was interviewed on Sky News where she expressed her concern at having children and for that future.

The western world has had it good and now other developing parts of the world want a slice of that, which is going to make matters worse.

There are many facts (and those are real facts) about the world which show that it is totally out of sync with normal climate trends. The way we, as humans, have treated Earth, particularly in the last 50 years, is not sustainable.

David Attenborough’s recent film on climate change was very chilling. It seemed to bring all aspects of the many complex issues together but also showed that much can and is being done to help slow down the problem.

There is much information and books about climate change and human consumption of the planet. Can I recommend that you all — both eco-warriors and eco-bashers — read the book Let my people go surfing (new second edition) by Yvon Chouinard, who with his wife, owns the company Patagonia, a global brand but with a global responsibility.

I am part of the problem and there are lots of global “interests” at stake but as a species we have to change.

R. J. KENYON

Wordsworth Street,

Penrith.