What can we do about it? - reply

Art Souther souther at CS.UTEXAS.EDU
Wed Mar 29 12:27:28 CST 1995

I haven't seen anyone seriously address the issue I brought up about
how to find innovative ways to educate people.  All the responses have
been the standard responses that are not working - at least with
sufficient speed to make much of a difference.  How can we use some of
that ingenuity and creativity that Meredith speaks of to really make
an impact on everyday beliefs?

Certainly we have the capability to understand the need for a
sustainable world that is also interesting (in preserving
biodiversity), as Meredith mentioned, but I am hard pressed to see how
the powers that be would be willing to give up profits and the
so-called "good life" to bring their lifestyles into line.  And the
powers that be heavily influence if not control poltical
decisionmaking, the media, etc.  The result is that the roots of this
consumptive addiction are very deep.

Walter mentioned joining the nature groups like the Sierra Club, and
pursuing efforts to reduce world population growth, and in these areas
again I see little overall effectiveness of current approaches in
generating real change.

Anyone who looks into the issue would quickly realize that the current
loss of resources is overwhelmingly at the hands of the developed
nations.  Yet, in my Sierra Club where I have been active for several years
I have seen very little substantive change in lifestyles - Sierra
members are perhaps 10% better than the average, a source of great
pride to them, but that is far from the up to 50% or more reduction in
energy and material use that the United States would have to undergo
to reduce their consumption practices to "sustainable" levels, even
freezing world population growth.

Until we take our our consumption seriously though, there is little
chance the 3rd world will see population as the major problem, as we
Americans are fond of pointing out.  I asked one Sierra Club member
who was very concerned about reducing third world population growth
why she didn't concentrate on the major problem in the US -
overconsumption.  Her reply was that a serious reduction in lifestyle
"would never happen".  It's not surprising that the 3rd world views us
as hypocritical.

Obviously population growth is a serious and increasing problem and
stabilization is absolutely critical.  But even at current
populations, if every person were to live at U.S. standards of
consumption, we would have nothing left very soon.  Until we clean up
our own house we will have little credibility elsewhere.

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