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Consumerism is destroying the planet. What is next?

On June 1972, the first UN conference on environment was held in Stockholm.

The Conference noted sharp deterioration of environmental situation and called upon the world community to preserve the Earth’s nature for the benefit of present and future generations and adopted the environmental action plan, which was implemented by specially created organization – the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP).

After 44 years, another UNEP’s report called “Global Environmental Outlook” (GEO-6) states: environmental degradation continues and it grows at a rapid pace.

The result is quite predictable. Under the capitalist and consumerism development model, which is imposed by the West on the world, you expect nothing. You just can look at how ‘market’s invisible hand’ acts in the world food area.

While nearly one billion people do not eat properly and 5 million children die of hunger, the considerable part of food goes straight to dump in Western countries. For example, more than 40% of purchased products are dumped; more than 30% of grown vegetables are not even delivered to customer due to a lack of visual appeal. In fact, nowadays, Americans throw away food by 50% more than in 1970.

There is an immense amount of resources spent on its production, distribution and utilization of hundreds of millions of tons of ‘useless food’. Bluntly speaking, work of tens of millions of people and billions of tons of natural resources have been wasting from year to year and, at the same time, natural environment is being polluted and destroyed. Everything is according to a proven scheme: some people die of hunger, other people overeat, another people receive millions of dollars, the entire population gets habitat destruction.

ʺNot money, but purchases bring happiness,ʺ ‘effective’ owners and managers continue to insist. Following this idea, one billion of the richest people consume 72% of world resources. Excessive appetite of consumers looks even more impressive in comparison to size of planets. If every Earth dweller had consumed as much natural resources as the average citizen of the United States does, we would need amount of resources bigger than a size of five Earths combined.

So long as we have the only one planet, an overconsumption has turned into destruction of our habitats: a total number of species of animals and plants has reduced by more than 40%, 70% of superficial and 30% of ground waters are polluted, 92% of the world population breath polluted air, over 58% of ecosystems are in critical condition…

What are the consequences of continuing destruction of the Earth’s biosphere?

In the 1980s, Soviet researchers conducted full-scale operations on modeling processes of the biosphere development. The results were disturbing to say the least. ʺOur system allowed to carry out calculates right up to point when the biosphere, exposed to a severe impact, regained more or less stable characteristics. And I was impressed by the fact that the biosphere had never returned to its original state. It was a new biosphere every time. And as a rule, its parameters ruled out the possibility of further human development,ʺ the project leader and academician Nikolai Moiseyev said.

Today the rapid transformation of the biosphere is already visible to the naked eye and every inhabitant of the Earth feels the consequences of these changes. Russia is not an exception: over the past 20 years the number of large-scale natural disasters has increased by almost four times and this number will double in the next 10 years.

The number of ‘ecological’ victims is increasing rapidly. According to the assessment pf the World Health Organization, 234 times more people died due to the environmental degradation than during wars and conflicts.

The environmental crisis has become global. This means that no state is able to preserve the ecological well-being of its ‘own’ part of the biosphere by not destroying and polluting ‘somebody else’s’ one. Even joint actions of all countries are not enough. It requires a different level of interaction. In the words of Vladimir Vernadsky, the humanity needs to unite and act at one with nature.

It is clear that ‘the market’s invisible hand’ is not able not ensure unity in any way. The principles of individualism, competition and profit, which underlie the market ideology, do not harmonize with the ‘unity’ concept. The failure of highly publicized model of sustained development, which relied on capitalism, is another confirmation.

The most realistic option is a transition to an alternative model of Eco-socialism, which is based on the principles of collectivism, preferring ”we” rather than “I”, and environmentalism, that includes the concept of “we” and “nature”. In other words, It is aimed at the harmonization of socio-economic and environmental relations and it involves the development taking inti account the laws of nature.

Of course, you can leave it how it is and hope for a miracle. This is what the American congressman John Shimkus offers. He claims that the God personally guaranteed Noah that the Flood would never happen and there was no need to be afraid of ecological disaster; in any case, we should not worry about rising of sea levels. Even churches do not believe in miracles. ʺThe surest way to avoid disaster is to reject capitalismʺ Pope Francis said. In his speeches, he severely criticized the system of market relationship that “imposes an idea to make profit at any cost without worrying about the social exclusion or the destruction of nature”.

ʺThis system was originally defective because it broke the commandment “thou shalt not kill”,ʺ the pontiff said. ʺThe system is unacceptable nowadays…the Earth itself finds it unacceptable,ʺ he concluded.


  • November 10, 2016 11:55 AM MSK