Can we reach this goal?
I wrote, a couple of weeks ago, how rich people consume proportionally more resources than non-rich people. Since then I have been thinking about this, and I have reached what seems to me to be the only possible conclusion; that the environmentally sustainable world to which we 'greenies' aspire must be an impossible dream.
Gorge Monbiot said in 2019: "If everyone pursues private luxury there are simply not enough resources to meet everyone’s needs." At first glance this statement appears to be true. But what he says is "if everyone pursues..." Of course everyone does but not everyone achieves it. This is why those who succeed in their pursuit of private luxury are able to have it - because most people do not succeed.
Yet this is the basis of capitalism, a system built on the principals of progressive economic growth.
Our environment is already breaking under the strain of human development and progress, and yet governments and economists around the world demand constant growth. At a growth rate of 3% per annum an economy will double in size in less than 25 years. Nature can hardly cope right now - but we're supposed to double the load in 25 years? It's just not going to work.
Is there a solution? I don't know. It's a sobering argument sure enough, but even having just articulated it I think I have to admit that if I could afford the lifestyle of a billionaire I might be tempted to have it and enjoy it. But what then - to hell with everyone else? Or would I buy large tract of land right here in New Zealand and re-wild it, convert it to native bush, eradicate all the pests, and open it to the public? How many of us would do that?
George went on to say "If we try to obtain public luxury then we create space and support for everyone" - which would seem to be an endorsement of the latter option.
I am not proposing the overthrow of capitalism but it might be a good idea if some of the people who have achieved the goal of ultimate private luxury would then devote the usually considerable remainder of their financial resources to such environmentally beneficial endeavours as the Maungatautari Ecological Island Trust to name just one.
Or maybe goups of people who have achieved financial stability could band together towards similar goals.
So I guess I am saying that we are all, in fact, entitled to pursue private luxury. But if we are lucky enough to achieve it, do we not then have a responsibility to look after the world which provides it to us?
A sustainable world may eventually turn out to have been an impossible dream, but there is hope in the fact that one of the qualities of the human race which has brought it thus far, is a tendency to achieve things which seemed impossible.