Debtors! Or thieves?

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A vast number of people live within a set budget to enable them to navigate the world’s economic landscape; they do this by providing guidance on how well to balance wants and needs in relation to income and available resources. In finer terms, budgets are meant to channel spending to a particular direction making it possible to manage the income available to prevent overspending and debt. So, income can ideally surpass expenditure or at the very least, equal it.

Now that we know what budgeting is and how important it is, we can predict the disadvantages that can arise from failing to diligently account for what we use versus what we have. This is not restricted to issues that are finance-oriented. Did you know that there is also a budget for the earth and its resources?

Today, we are blessed with access to far more information than we can digest and would ever even encounter. Thanks to science and technology, we also have an abundance of knowledge about our planet earth. For example, we are now aware that earth is the only planet in the whole universe with life in it. On-going scientific work on some other planets like Mars suggests that there may have been some elements of life in it billions of years ago. If that was the case, my question then will be, “What happened?” Whatever the answer, this discovery points to the fact that life and its resources are not infinite. They can be exhausted or destroyed.

This applies to the earth. The planet has its budget; the expected quantity of resources it is supposed to use for a particular period while replenishing. This is a measure that is expected to monitor, address the process of usage of the Earth’s resources. Yet this year, the inhabitants of the earth used up a year worth of resources by July 29th, 2019 earlier than its proposed date. Simply put, we are now spending way much more than the earth can ever make for consumption in 2019. This year, the recorded cause of the overshoot is largely attributed to carbon (CO2) emissions. Carbon emissions from factories, automobiles, etc. have played a huge part in destroying the ecosystem.

Such a day as the 29th is known as Earth Overshoot Day. It is a term that was coined in 2006 by Andrew Simms of the UK Think Tank in collaboration with Global footprint network (GFN), a concerned environmentally aware international research group.

According to the Global footprint network, the Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when humanity’s demand for ecological resources (fish and forests, for instance) and services in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year. “One year is no longer enough to regenerate humanity’s annual demand on the planet, even using conservative data sets,” states GFN.

This is irrespective of the fact that the world’s over six billion people only represent just 0.01% of all living things. In comparison, bacteria make up 13% of everything; plants – a whopping 82% – while all other creatures like insects, fungi, fish and animals make up just 5% of the world’s biomass.

Yet since the dawn of civilization, humanity has caused the loss of 83% of all wild mammals, 80% of marine animals, 50% of plants and 15% of fish. Our abuse of ‘privilege’ (definitely not due to our relevance in any way but our self-imposed elevated position on the hierarchical structure of life) is destroying the planet. Humans have always felt entitled to this space we have inhabited for a while, we have explored and experimented, used and craved for more which we can invariably never reproduce or even when we can, only in very minimal quantities. The Earth suffers for our misdeeds.

Based on our debt status, it is obvious that the campaign for sustainability which over the past few years have increased by a noticeable percentage in organizations, on social media platforms, etc. has been a thin layer of façade that the present title ‘Debtor’ has ripped through.

I am more inclined to call us thieves. Debtors at least initially applied for the loan and can be charged a certain interest rate based on a loan received and duration. Thieves on the other hand, neither ask for permission nor do they return items talk less of paying any interest on it. As debtors, we are expected to return borrowed resources within an expected time frame but as thieves, we have little or no care for such. So which are we: debtors or thieves?

The population is expected to rise to 10.9 billion by the end of the century; a figure environmentalists believe is unsustainable at the current rate of consumption and probably even if drastically reduced. A recent report from the Lancet Commission found it is “increasingly unlikely” that food systems will cope once the population rises above 10 billion.

I am constantly sounding the alarm in my articles on the seriousness of the earth’s dwindling resources. It is no longer a warning bell. The problems are with us now. It is way past time we all go out of our way to ask questions about our ecological footprint and how it positively or negatively affects our environment both immediate and external. Our actions have a ripple effect that doesn’t end where the stone drops.

It is refreshing to say that one can be economically enlarged whilst still being environmentally conscious as well as socially. This is the aim of a sustainable environment. Doing all you can for yourself with minimal or no damage to the environment.

Does my car affect the environment? Where does my waste go? The fumes from this generator set, where does it go? Will this plastic wrapping decay? Where do the big companies that produce my bottle water get the plastic from? Is it wrong to use this object once? Do I need to get another leather bag? Do I need that or are there more environmental-friendly alternatives?

The lifestyle changes might be small, but when added up across a population and lifetime, they start to have a profound impact.

Robert Laughlin, a physicist posits that the earth is very old and would in one way or the other naturally replenish itself when humans stop interfering by destroying it. The Earth will simply fix things in its own time and way. But only if we let it.

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