Will We Save The Planet for The Future, For Our Children?
Here’s a fascinating study of human nature.
If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably in agreement that we are currently over-exploiting the Earth’s resources, and need to reduce our demand for goods, growth and energy. We need to save the planet for the future, in other words.
But even though we know it, and even though more than 95% of the world’s top scientists agree that we are causing massive damage to the planet by using fossil fuels, we still have corporations and individuals who want to extract as much as they possibly can. They don’t want to save the planet for the future.
These actions have a high cost on the welfare of future generations. They are the ones who will suffer even more than us.
We’re basically stealing from our children.
Co-operation To Save The Planet for the Future
A series of groups of people (generations) are told they can each either extract a resource to exhaustion (e.g. drill all the oil out of the ground until there is not a drop left), or extract some, and leave something for the next group (the next generation).
Of course, if you exhaust the resource, you get the maximum benefit, right now. But future generations are left empty-handed.
The study showed huge differences in result depending upon how the decision-making was made.
Decisions Made Individually
The study found that the resource was almost always destroyed if people made the decision individually.
Decisions Made by Voting
But interestingly, when the decision was made by voting, the resource was sustained. Why? Because a majority of co-operators nearly always restrained the defectors.
So when the decision was made by voting, the group co-operated with the future, and saved some of the resources for future generations.
But It Had To Be Binding On Everyone
Interestingly though, the voting only worked for co-operation with the future if it was binding for all involved. “Well, OK, I’ll leave some for future generations – but ONLY IF everyone else does too”.
When they thought that others might extract more, they instantly wanted to extract the maximum they could for themselves.
Save The Planet For The Future – Kyoto, Paris
This interesting study reminded me of the Kyoto protocol, where some major countries said “I’m not going to reduce my carbon emissions if the other countries aren’t all going to too” (I always thought it sounded like kids in a schoolyard).
There are similar concepts and problems with the Paris Agreement.
So Why Won’t We Save The Planet for The Future?
We all KNOW we need to stop extracting fossil fuels. So why don’t we?
I think the concept of capitalism and a growth economy has disconnected us from Real Life. The real life where what we do, makes a difference. We’re on a small planet, and we influence it. It’s an inter-connected ecosystem.
But watch any TV News program and at some stage they’ll talk about share prices (going up is said to be good), big companies making even more profits, and more manufacturing and/or exports.
But we’re on a finite planet.
We can’t keep making more and more “stuff” and buying and then discarding it. As people, we can’t continue working just to pay for all this “stuff” and have little or no quality time with the people who matter to us.
The Problem With Capitalism
Capitalism is supposed to be this great thing. Yet it espouses selfishness, greed, competition and non-cooperation.
Capitalism is a social organising principle that tells us we have great choice – but really what we have is a supermarket aisle full of different but identical cheese. We are told we have great freedoms – yet we have less and less control or influence over the important things in our lives.
Politicians can be – and are – “bought” by vested interests. Money dictates public policy. Not what’s right or good or just. Money and power. Politicians discuss coal (which kills people) – and we turn away to binge-watch the next series on Netflix or the next game. Pollution kills us – and for what – more plastic toys or the latest phone?
Certainly, we need jobs. But why traditional jobs? Why not work in things that support, not harm the planet?
When we re-connect – with real life, with Nature, with people – we start to undo some of the harm that modern life and capitalism has wrought on us.
Community gardens and food co-ops give us connection and good, healthy food. Joining sharing groups is better than buying more stuff. Communities can share renewable energy instead of relying on a polluting grid that doesn’t always work.
Capitalism, with its emphasis on greed and selfishness, is wrecking the planet, and this is clearly confirmed in the fascinating study outlined here.
And we are willing participants. Decisions are made that are often in the best interests only of a select few, while we are “distracted” by TV, sport and other trifles.
When we start to see the wrong in motor vehicle manufacturers advertising an “ecoboost” car that does a mere 20 mpg (with an advertisement showing a snow-covered mountain – that it’s helping to melt), we can start seeing how wrong our picture of the world is.
Capitalism says we must extract the maximum from planet and people right now, to gain maximum advantage to an individual.
We can do our best to concentrate on the more important things in life – safe, clean, healthy living with family and friends as our top priority, while refusing as much goods and energy made from fossil fuels as possible.
It’s what green living is all about. And what is good for us, is also good for the planet.
If we don’t start now to save the planet for the future, there won’t be a planet.
Please spread the Green word (buttons below) – thank you!