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Spit Lit

Saving the planet or doom-mongering

2:30pm, Saturday 12 March 2005, Oxford House

Many In the developed world believe that we are producing and consuming too much. We are told that resources are running out and the environment is stretched beyond capacity. These environmentalist concerns that modern living is destroying the planet are increasingly affecting how we live our lives. At an official level, from transport policy to architecture, from energy production to house-building, sustainability has become the buzzword.

More informally, we are all urged to change our lifestyles to counter the supposed damage we are doing to the environment. We separate our waste, insulate our homes, switch off our lights and chose bicycles over cars. We chide ourselves for being too greedy, too wasteful. polluters of nature. We warn the third world about the downside of industrial development. We urge limits to economic growth lest we doom the planet and future generations.

But are these apocalyptic scenarios true or a product of green scare mongering and panic in the face of the unknown? If we organise our lives around consuming less, are we acting responsibility or accepting low horizons, a culture of constraint? And what are the effects for the developing world of accepting the sustainable orthodoxy?

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