The Great Barrier Reef’s Demise and You

According to The Guardian:

Great Barrier Reef at ‘terminal stage’: scientists despair at latest coral bleaching data

‘Last year was bad enough, this is a disaster,’ says one expert as Australia Research Council finds fresh damage across 8,000km

Great Barrier Reef at 'terminal stage'

Great Barrier Reef at ‘terminal stage’

I read this at a message board for geeks and entrepreneurs and shared the following, which I wanted to share here:

Many posts here about how sad and disgusted people are. Not much about people taking personal responsibility.

What do people think the carrying capacity of the planet means? Sustaining more humans means sacrificing other life that competes for our resources. It means pollution rising until it doesn’t quite kill us but is well above the levels of a pristine, clean environment.

Nobody wants to live near the carrying capacity because approaching it means sacrificing anything that doesn’t keep us alive.

Every round trip flight across the country you take contributes almost one year’s allotment from the Paris agreement for one person

New York Los Angeles flight CO2

Flying first class and you’re well over it. Eating meat contributes a lot too. Having more kids in western cultures contributes significantly.

Who among us, reading this, hasn’t gone over their annual limit in just a few hours of flying, not to mention their regular life otherwise? How many have blown past their Paris limits already this year, when it’s only April?

Some would say the damage was done by past generations. Okay, well what beautiful part of nature will our behavior destroy years from now? People keep posting to HN that since we can’t change that a lot will happen, it doesn’t matter any more, we should just enjoy ourselves, but there are different degrees of destruction.

Alternatively, we can fly less, drive less, eat much less meat, and have fewer kids. We don’t need to wait for legislation. In fact, it’s the fastest way to get legislation, since politicians follow voters.

In my experience, acting on all those things improved my life tremendously, including not flying for a year-plus, more than almost anything else. I’m more fit, enjoy my neighborhood and neighbors, and spend less money and there’s nothing special about me.

One person responded:

How will politicians follow voters if voters’ own actions cause shrinking economies and fewer jobs? That’s not rhetorical. I don’t know how it is possible within the current system to back down en-masse in the way you suggest. In addition if one culture does shrink and others simply grow more aggressively then the end result will be same.

What you’re talking about is a global consensus to shrink the world population and economy. That isn’t something I can personally take hold of. Despite the fact that I do live rather minimally – I don’t kid myself that it’s changing anything. I just like it that way.

I am often quite sceptical of the “science will save us” approach, but actually it seems more credible than the “change one person at a time” approach.

I responded:

> I don’t know how it is possible within the current system to back down en-masse in the way you suggest.

The system will change. It’s already changing. The question is whether we design and follow the change or nature does it for us. The demise of the world’s largest living structure is just the latest in decades of evidence. How much more do we need?

This community is so enthusiastic about going to Mars, universal basic income, and other challenges to current systems. Why so resistant to this change? So enthusiastic about entrepreneurship solving problems except this fundamental belief that economies must grow. Are we so tied to bacon, big houses, and regular trips to Paris? Humans lived for hundreds of thousands of years with cities of millions of people without planes, cars, and so on. We don’t need them for happiness. Nor do we need to get rid of them. We can live a modern life with modern medicine, modern toys, the internet and so on, we just have to curb it a bit. Well, more than a bit.

> I am often quite sceptical of the “science will save us” approach, but actually it seems more credible than the “change one person at a time” approach.

Hence my point that changing my behavior improved my life and that I’m not special. Simplifying and reducing consumption from our culture’s wastefulness isn’t sacrifice. You don’t have to keep believing it is.

Simplifying and reducing consumption can materially improve your life. Even if it didn’t, why not take responsibility for how your actions affect others like you wish past generations did instead of killing the Great Barrier Reef? Why not decouple your happiness from burning fossil fuels and owning more stuff? You don’t have to keep waiting for everyone else.

By the way, let’s look at the pollution for first class and longer flights (source for all graphs):

New York—Los Angeles Business Class

ny la business

New York—Los Angeles business class

New York—Paris Coach

New York Paris coach

New York—Paris coach

New York—Shanghai Coach

 New York Shanghai coach

New York—Shanghai coach

New York—Shanghai Business Class

New York Shanghai business class

New York—Shanghai business class

New York—Shanghai First Class

New York Shanghai first class

New York—Shanghai first class

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1 response to “The Great Barrier Reef’s Demise and You

  1. Pingback: Leadership and the Environment: It starts here | Joshua Spodek

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