We are in the 1% of consumption. Our arrogance in consuming the Earth's resources without regard to the effects of that consumption on the rest of humanity is breathtaking. Just as in the banking sector where the bankers sense of entitlement and lack of moral constraints resulted in the ruination of millions. The greed apparent in our individual materialism and over-consumption has created climate change which is the most serious survival issue our planet and the species who depend on it for life have ever faced.
The Royal Society has published today a landmark report(pdf) 21-months in the making - that it says is the "first substantive offering" in its 350-year history on the topic of the "impacts of human population and consumption on the planet".
The Earth faces a century of disasters, the report warns unless rich countries cut consumption and global population stabilizes.
But the sheer number of people on earth is not as important as their inequality and how much they consume, said Jules Pretty, one of the working group of 22 who produced the report. "In material terms it will be necessary for most developed countries to abstain from certain sorts of consumption, such as CO2. You do not need to be consuming so much to have a long and healthy life. We cannot conceive of a world that is going to be as unequal as it is now. We must bring the 1.3 billion people living on less than a $1.25 a day out of absolute poverty. It's critical to slow population growth in those countries which cannot keep up with services."The Royal Society has produced this video in which its working group chair, Nobel Prize winner Sir John Sulston explains why it has published the report.
Sir John Sulston "It's the inequality, the injustice"
In the short term it is of the utmost urgency to reduce consumption and emissions that are already causing damage, for example greenhouse gases, deforestation, and land use change amongst others. Furthermore, unless the goal is a world in which extreme inequality persists, it is necessary to make space for those in poverty, especially the 1.3 billion people living in absolute poverty, to achieve an adequate standard of living.In our quest for even more and more material goods, unsustainable food habits and comforts we have trampled on the human rights of the greater number on our planet. We have treated the rest of humanity as non entities whose value is only in contributing to our comfort. We have elevated ourselves in value above other species.
Climate change represents an enormous threat to a whole host of human rights: the right to food, the right to water and sanitation, the right to development. There is therefore huge scope for human rights courts and non-judicial human rights bodies to treat climate change as the immediate threat to human rights that it is. Such bodies could therefore take government policy to task when it is too short-sighted, too unambitious, or too narrowly focused on its own constituents at the expense of those elsewhere. Fossil fuel mining, deforestation, the disturbance of carbon sinks, and the degradation of the oceans are developments that can be blocked on human rights grounds.
Mahatma Gandhi “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed”