Let's NOT Save the Planet

 July 2020


I disagree with the concept of ‘Saving the planet’. It is dangerously misleading. 


It implies that we are greater than the planet and that, if we are altruistic and generous, we might just condescend to save it, as we might try to save giant pandas or greater crested newts.


I imagine the mindset stems from Genesis when God conferred on man ‘dominion… over all the earth… to replenish the earth and subdue it.‘ I have always felt uncomfortable about that dominion until it was pointed out to me that a more accurate translation from the Hebrew would be that God conferred ‘responsibility for the earth’. For surely any good ruler thinks not in terms of power, but responsibility?


The fact is that the planet will be fine. It will continue spinning on its axis every 24 hours and around the sun every year and it will stay perfectly in balance with itself. The problem is that man’s impact in this era, the anthropocene, is changing that balance dramatically and making the planet inhospitable to us. 


What we should be doing is attempting to save ourselves… save ourselves by paying more attention to our only home so that it is maintained in the favourable balance that gave us life in the first place.


So why hasn’t self interest kicked in by now? Why are we so reluctant to preserve ourselves and protect our children? Isn’t that our primary instinct? 


In 2019 Oxfam reported that just the 26 richest billionaires own as many assets as the 3.8 billion people who make up the poorest half of the planet’s population and the number is falling steadily, from 43 billionaires in 2017.  


Meanwhile just 100 companies in the world have been responsible for 71% of the global GHG emissions since 1998, and a mere 20 fossil fuel companies can be directly linked to more than one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions in the modern era.


So it looks as though a very small handful of very powerful people are working according to their own self-interest and taking the rest of the population of the world along with them. Presumably they are the billionaires and corporations who own most of the media outlets, contribute most to politicians’ election expenses, lobby most effectively and stimulate economies based on endless consumption through their advertising and entertainment operations.


So how do we break out of our servitude to these billionaires and corporations? At what point are we going to create a sustainable economy based on social justice and humanitarian equity?


An inspirational Oxford economist, Kate Raworth has a thrilling vision of a sustainable, universally beneficial economy. It will look like a doughnut! A creative, regenerative, distributive economy that works within the planet's ecological limits. Do listen to her TED talk and find out more about the doughnut!