Culture Guides

The Ecological Recession and Over Consumption

Permanent growth is a mathematical absurdity. We pay the price in the end.

Until recently, people who talked about the massive losses of Amazonian rainforest or disappearing species were considered ‘greens’, ‘hippies’ or maybe just good-hearted ‘romantics’. Yes, it’s terrible that cute animals are disappearing and maybe even a potential cure for cancer somewhere deep in the forest but hey, have you seen the stock markets recently?

A new brand of ecologists have managed to put the devastation reaped upon the planet in economic terms, however and show that the natural losses ‘dwarf the bank crisis’ that gets the big headlines.

The basic problem is that we over-consume. This is a little hard to fathom for some as they step on the scales and only find themselves slightly over-weight. The gist of the problem though is the production of what we consume. When we eat apples in England that were grown in South Africa, or drink wine in France that was made in Australia, we’re consuming the world’s energy resources.

Or when lettuce is grown in Africa, using precious local water supplies and then flown to Europe, we’re again guilty. Even eating meat when 75 times more grain could have been grown on the same land it took to feed animals for slaughter is hardly forward-thinking.

We’re running out of landfills everywhere, the oil won’t last forever and our economies on a desperate hell-bent urge to get us to borrow to spend and consume. And countries with an emerging consumer class like China and India are hardly likely to do better following the example of the West.

We’ve been living in a daydream where there were no consequences to our lifestyle of buying whatever we felt like. We now face the choice of waking up as a culture or entering into a nightmare.

So, the obvious question for a travel site is, can we still take flights?

More on the economics of overconsumption and the eco credit crunch