guess you have a room of your own at home. You probably don't keep it
very tidy or clean but you don't wreck it, do you? It wouldn't make any
sense to smash it and all your stuff up and make it horrible because that's
your own space where you do your own thing. But you probably don't bother
with the rest of your house (unless your parents nag you), or the backyard,
or your street, or your town.
Or your planet?
That's someone else's problem,
All humans — yes, adults
too — are a little like that. They think they're very clever — and they
are in many ways. But they're not quite clever enough.
A really clever animal would not trash its only home while pretending
that everything was just fine.
Here's a quick look at
are taking too much from the planet: oil, gas, coal, trees,
metals and minerals, soils
left for people to use in the future. Today's humans are eating
throw away 'rubbish' in vast amounts as pollution and trash
trucks, planes and ships 'throw
away' waste gases from burning fuel into the air. Factories
and power stations 'throw away' not just waste gas but also
liquids and solids, many of which are highly poisonous to life.
Trash mountains (garbage) grow ever bigger outside cities.
say there are too many people:
now almost 7,500,000 — that's 7 1/2 billion —
countries have lots of people but they (because they are poor)
use very little stuff. They can't — they're too poor to buy
anything. So they are not eating the future. Mostly they have
no future. The people in rich countries are the real future-eaters
because they can buy (and waste) loads of stuff.
are taking up too much space on the planet
and less space for other animals and plants. Farming now takes
up most usable land. Over-fishing the seas has destroyed once-rich
fishing grounds. When people want yet more space (roads, homes,
farms for more food production,
industry), forests get burned or cut down and millions of other
animals and plants lose their homes. Many die or go extinct.
are always fighting wars which destroy not just other people
(often kids who may be forced to fight too) but also cause terrible
are the only animals that kill each other (as well as other
animals) in millions. We penguins may fight occasionally but
we don't kill each other. Unfortunately for humans, making war
machines is now a giant
industry. The more 'efficient' these killing machines are,
the more expensive they become.
have short memories
human lifespans were 700 years instead of around 70, people
would be able to remember the way the world was before modern
industry, technology and 'progress' (towards what?). Then they'd
see the damage clearly. Today, most people are born into the
noise and pollution of cities which for them seems 'natural'
— as if it had always been like that.
okay. Clever humans can fix any problems by using technology
believe that science and technology will provide the means to
'fix' the planet's problems when they get so big that disasters
begin to happen. Well maybe. But more likely is that disasters
will happen more and more to poor people in poor countries where
there is no money to pay for 'techno-fixes'. Rich countries
might be able to afford to fix their own backyards — for a while.
full up or fouled up? No problem. Mars — here we come!
few people seriously believe that space travel will soon allow
humans to set up new colonies on the Moon — or the planet Mars.
Although this may be possible, it's a dangerous idea because
it suggests it's okay to carry on 'eating the future' because
there's an 'escape hatch' (but only for a few) when humans mess
up planet Earth too much. Hey! What about the rest of you humans
and all other life? And no thanks, I don't want to go to Mars — no water and no fish!
happy that many people — especially young people like you — are waking
up. You've got the message. You can see the problems and how bad the future
could be. Sadly many people think they can't do anything about it because
they have no power to change anything. That's where
they're wrong! You 'awake'
humans can change things. It's not too late. I've got loads
of ideas for you at the end of my guide. But first, let's look at how
you get 'locked in' to the planet-trashing machine...
how much is enough? — From owning things to wars.
into the work treadmill — What you need and what you want.