It’s been a weird time, the last six months, and so it continues; perhaps it always was. It’s certainly been an unjust violent mess in varying degrees of severity, for as long as most can remember. With selfishness, division and pleasure firmly in the driving seat, and ‘the planet beautiful’, slowly choking to death under the weight of human greed and stupidity.
After Covid-19 erupted, widespread lockdowns were enforced in many countries, and for a brief interlude hush descended on towns and cities across the world. Whole populations from Europe to New Zealand, and most places in between, were forced to desist from ‘going out’ and socializing, made to curtail their habitual shopping urges and change their work patterns. …
A rare space opened, is still available, creating the opportunity to reflect on how life was and is being lived, individually and collectively; an opportunity to redefine what is important, and for those so inclined, to ponder life after the virus. A feeling of post-pandemic hope circulated among the hopeful. Could ‘things’ change for the good at last; would corporate governments emerge with a new attitude towards public services, towards ‘key workers’, who had suddenly become heroes, towards the environment and national healthcare systems (where they exist, and where they don’t with a recognition that they should), and to refugees and migrant workers?
Will the many acts of community kindness foster lasting social responsibility? Can the pause in consumerism, manufacturing, and travel ignite a major shift in political and social attitudes, leading to a change in policies and collective behaviour rooted in environmental and social responsibility? Many hope for such a long overdue bonanza, but as countries tentatively begin to emerge from the shadow of Covid the political rhetoric and corporate talk is depressingly predictable. …
Returning to ‘normal’ means re-igniting the consumer-based economy, encouraging consumerism and affirming negative, habitual patterns of behaviour. That’s what the politicians and the corporate voices are concerned about, and, while they may include the words ‘green’ or ‘alternative’, ‘renewable’, or ‘eco’, in their rousing duplicitous rhetoric, their principle goal is not salvaging the environment, changing behaviour and encouraging simplicity of living, it is generating profit, perpetuating ‘growth’. And the way that’s achieved is by populations consuming, irresponsibly and in excess. An economic system based and reliant upon limitless consumption, in all its facets, including animal agriculture, is completely incompatible with the health of the planet, and the well being of people.
Instead of excess, simplicity and sufficiency need to be the goals; responsible consumerism, in which goods and services are bought based on need, and choices/decisions are determined by the impact on the natural world. This requires personal effort and worldwide education. National public education programmes, run by governments in collaboration with environmental groups, are needed to make people aware of the impact of their behaviour on the environment, including animal agriculture; cutting out all animal food produce is the single most significant step individuals can take to help reduce their impact on the environment.
Changes in behaviour are essential, but governments, long-term political policies and corporations have the biggest impact; while the rhetoric from some in office may be resonant, it is difficult to see any politicians within the current crop who have the breadth of vision and the will to enact the radical measures needed if the environmental emergency is to be overcome. All are married to the existing structures and appear to believe in the pervasive socio-economic ideology. Intense public pressure then, like the actions undertaken by Extinction Rebellion, Greenpeace, the School Strike for Climate and others, is crucial and must be applied, consistently and forcefully if, and it is a loud and deeply troubling if, the needed actions to Save Our Planet and heal our societies — for the two are inextricably linked — are to take place within the time frame required.