I had originally posted this on The Martian Poet, as part of a campaign I am a part of. But I think this applies to every single one of us today, which is why I’m also posting it on Eco-Intelligent (an edited version)
Environmentalism and sustainable development are the buzz phrases in the world today. While a small fraction of people continue to think that climate change is not real (apparently, humans aren’t supposed to be arrogant enough to think we can change the climate), the evidence has formed a mountain in support of climate change. Even if you deny climate change, you cannot deny that humans have caused major disruptions in the natural world in the last 50 years. If not world climate, we have definitely reduced global biodiversity, forest cover and air composition significantly. Entire ecosystems have been obliterated.
Hence, the rise of environmentalism; a movement calling for a change in our practices so as to preserve and protect the natural environment. Conventions have been held, laws have been passed, books have been written and research continues on how we can protect the natural world. While this is noble, and necessary, there is a very real problem with all of that is happening with environmentalism.
Despite accepting that it is our industrialization and drive for profit (otherwise called capitalism and economic development) has been the reason for much of this environmental crisis, it remains humanity’s first priority. Even in the face of eminent extinction, we refuse to forgo development.
The Wikipedia page for sustainable development defines it as “*a process for meeting human development goals while sustaining the ability of natural systems to continue to provide the natural resources and ecosystem services upon which the economy and society depends.” While such a definition, where economic development precedes environmental conservation, exists, we will be heading nowhere.
Albert Einstein has famously said that “you cannot solve a problem with the same thinking that created it”. Similarly, you cannot solve a problem with the same targets that created it in the first place! Human developmental goals of the last century are the sole reason for our environmental crisis today. National security, growing population, bigger farms, larger houses, cities over villages, cars over bicycles, ease of doing personal chores, trophy hunting, all have played a part in creating this crisis.
The chief culprit, though, has been the concept of capitalism. It rests on the principle of personal profit. It has promoted ideologies like YOLO and “you are the only one you can trust” long before it became popular in pop culture. And how do you get more profit? You plunder every resource available. How do you take care of only yourself? You bring others (including non-humans) done. One king to rule them all, eh?
Our economic system is based solely on this ideology. Every government scheme looks to forward this ideology. Every economic entity, looks to maximize this ideology. And it is always, always done at the cost of the environment.
A simple example is Narmada Dam, that was constructed a few years ago. Despite protests, despite evidence that it is going to horribly affect the local populations and ecosystems, the government went ahead with the project, because it would provide electricity and improve “economic prosperity”. Another example is the mindless mushrooming of apartments all over the city of Bangalore (or Bengaluru, if you prefer). Apartments have been built on places that used to be lakes, and the city continues to expand well into the forests that surround it. All because of the IT boom in the city.
Capitalism is the nemesis of Environmentalism. Capitalism is for individual benefit, environmentalism is for collective benefit. Capitalism is all about present pleasure, environmentalism is about present AND future prosperity. Capitalism is about ruthlessness, environmentalism is about respect and compassion. Capitalism is opportunistic, environmentalism is for the greater good.
As long is capitalism exists, and drives our economy, we cannot truly achieve practices that also protect the environment.
That’s where you come in.
The first step to change this ideology is to make people understand that it exists, and how it is harming us. Every person alive today is from the era of capitalism, and it is ubiquitous in the world. It should be brought to the front, so people identify it.
Second, we need to call for a change. Actually bringing change in the larger landscape is up to governments and courts, but we can do our bit by mobilizing. Participate, spread the word, mobilize people.
With enough pressure, the people who can suggest alternatives, economists and scientists, will come up with ways to change our economic model. But that is not enough.
While a different life force to our economics and development will ensure long-term change will occur, immediate change is in your hands. Do everything that you have been taught in school. Proper waste disposal, switching to cycles instead of cars, etc. Also, if you ever get a chance to be a policy maker or you will start your own company, remember that in should be environmentalism and not capitalism that should drive it.
This post might reach a few thousand people in the next few weeks. Likewise, I’m sure you have many readers and friends. Reblog. Share this on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn. Share this with your family during dinner. Share it with friends at parties. In no time, environmentalism in it’s true sense will become the buzz word.
Change will not be far away.
Remember. Environmentalism, not capitalism.