REPOST: Forget ‘Earth Hour’, we need to adopt real solutions to our environmental predicament

While initiatives like the “Earth Hour” aren’t necessarily useless, the planet requires more long-term solutions to halt the worsening effects of global warming and other environmental issues. The Independent has a few suggestions:

By encouraging high density living and vegetarianism, limiting travel, rationing electricity and introducing mandatory population control, we could reduce resource use and environment impact, preserving both for future generations.

High density living across the world could help solve our environmental crisis


Facing economic stagnation, the approaching scarcity of non-renewable resources and irreversible environmental damage, policy makers are vigorously doing nothing.

They argue about the correct solution, spend money on faux strategies unlikely to accomplish anything significant or lasting and claim chronic crisis fatigue. Ultimately, a major change in behaviour is needed. It requires embracing a more frugal lifestyle, following the advice of John Stuart Mill [seeking] “happiness by limiting … desires, rather than in attempting to satisfy them.”

Caught in what philosopher Montesquieu called a “spiral of expectations”, the population of Western economies believe that they have a right to constantly improve living standards. Those in less developed countries, understandably, aspire to the lifestyle and opportunities of their peers in advanced economies. But a significant portion of higher living standards is based on unsustainable financial, environmental and resource management practices.

Technological developments may defer some of these problems but they cannot solve them entirely. The magnitude of the difficulty of reversing this spiral of expectations can be seen from a “thought experiment” of what a transformation to a more sustainable future – sometimes referred to as “frugal living” – would look like.

High density living would become the norm, with limitations on permitted living space designed to reduce environmental impact, consumption, and increase transport efficiency.

Vegetarianism would be mandatory. The inputs needed to produce animal protein does not match the added calorie value. Eating only locally produced food (locavorism) would minimise food waste and energy utilised in transportation and storage. All water would be recycled, with limits on consumption. Bottled water would be eliminated other than in emergencies. Disposable items, such as redundant packaging, non-reusable storage and so on, would be banned.

Access to private cars and non-essential air travel would be restricted to reduce energy and resource utilisation and emissions. Electricity consumption would be rationed. Air-conditioning may need to be eliminated to reduce energy demand.

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