If you’ve been watching the BBC recently, you might recognise the quote above from a recent ‘mockumentary’ by Simon Amstell called ‘Carnage’. It’s set in 2067 when the very idea of eating meat or dairy products brings society to tears – either of shame or disgust, depending on whether or not you are old enough to actually have eaten meat in your lifetime. As someone who attempts to live a Vegan lifestyle (let me tell you, it can be trying at times) even I was shocked by some of the information that was portrayed in the short 65 minute film, not only is it informative however it is also provides a few laughs. Here’s the link in case you haven’t already seen it: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04sh6zg
As you may or may not already know, the meat and dairy industry is the biggest contributing factor to global warming currently and with 70 million new people every year and the population ever growing it looks as though the meat and dairy industry will be doing the same thing. One article I read actually claims that we have already cleared more than 35% of the earth’s ice-free land for the purpose of agriculture, which is quite a shocking figure when considering the rate of population growth and what effects it’s going to be having on the planet. Of course the answer to these issues is staring us all right in the face – and from our plates – we need to change our diets.
According to The Guardian a new study has found that “a widespread adoption of a vegetarian diet would bring down emissions by 63%” and “by 2050, diets low in fruit and veg and high in red meat and processed meat are responsible for the greatest health burden globally”. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that everything The Guardian prints should be life rules that we should all live by but it seems recently, there have been increasing studies, news reports and documentaries that all seem to be saying the same thing – cut out, at the very least, meat. As the population grows, so does the environmental issues that we see every day. Flooding in various parts of the UK, weather that changes it’s mind more than I change my socks. It’s all a bit bizarre, but something will have to change otherwise things will only continue to get stranger. Again, I’ll leave the links to the articles I’ve been reading underneath in case any readers are interested in having a look.
Due to the current chaos that we label ‘World affairs’, I feel it’s appropriate to address the idea of population growth within this country because of immigration. Yet, before I go any further I’d like put across what some of you may already be aware of, the squirrel situation. Red squirrels originated in the UK, and grey squirrels were brought over here to populate stately homes (so for OUR benefit) in 1876. Due to the nature of the grey squirrels being bigger, able to tolerate more food, and carrying a disease that is deadly to red squirrels… red squirrels are now slowly dying out, because of us, and there are lots of conservation causes set up for the red squirrel.
This I feel is the perfect metaphor for an opinion that is seen in a lot of the right wing British press these days that ‘Migrants are bad’. That they’re coming here, taking advantage of our system and destroying British culture. The Daily Mail is a prime example of this sort of thing, all I had to do was type in the word ‘Migrant’ in the search bar on their website and I immediately found numerous ignorant and what could be called racist articles. One I found to be specifically uninformative began the article by stating that “Migrants are pretending to be victims of domestic violence to dupe officials in to letting them stay permanently in Britain.”. The first comment I’d like to make on this article is that there were absolutely no figures or statistics at all, which of course may suggest to the reader that ‘Migrants’ could mean ALL migrants. Also it completely undermines domestic abuse and demonises migrants rather than the real issue of abuse. The Sun is another well known prejudiced newspaper, when typing in ‘Migrants’ on the search bar of their website I needn’t even look at any articles to get a feel of their viewpoint towards immigration. The term ‘Migrant’ came with so many derogatory connotations. There were numerous news reports claiming migrants are attempting to ‘sneak in to this country’, the term was used so often it completely dehumanised the people coming here, whether illegally or not. It screams, ‘Forget what’s happening in war torn Syria, forget the reasons why they may be making life-threatening journeys to find refuge … Look at the migrants who so desperately want to take advantage of our systems’. Disgusting, if you ask me.
An article I found particularly interesting, was an article posted by The Express, which reported the activist movement ‘Black Lives Matter’ who protested on London Heathrow’s runway claiming that Climate Change is racist. This may seem to be an odd viewpoint however the message is that black people and people in third world countries (who can barely afford to contribute to global warming, may I add) are the ones feeling the brunt of it. One protestor claimed “The UK’s impact on the environment is global. 7 out of 10 of the countries most affected by climate change are in sub-Saharan Africa”.
Definitely something to consider. Perhaps these journalists should take a step back and consider, not what migrants are doing to our culture but what our culture is doing to migrants; and furthermore what migrants are doing for our country and our culture. I will leave the relevant links, in case any readers are interested in taking a look.
Consumerism is one of the most prominent cultures of the past two decades, with endless instagram posts creating celebrity envy and convenience products springing up from here, there and everywhere, it’s easy to say that we have become a society of ever-wanting beings.
Although, technically, the trend of consumerism began at the beginning of the 19th century, along with the industrial revolution, what I find to be more interesting in the history of consumerism is the fast-growing pace of the ideology in the 20th century. This was around the time when businesses really started taking off and luxuries became necessities; it was at this time when the infamous ‘Maccies’ that we all know and love was formed, in 1940’s California. The global population began to take a steep growth spurt – yet ironically, it was also at this time when abortion was legalised amongst western societies and the contraceptive pill became available for women on the NHS. Looking at all of this in relation to environmental ethics, one question springs to mind: What is it that is causing all of the pollution, is it the consumption, or the growth of the population? I decided to do some research and have a look at other people’s opinions on this and so read a few opposing articles. The first one argued that even if we cut consumption down by a huge amount the fact that the population is growing means the continued destruction of other ecosystems and therefore the environment – the argument being that more people means more consumption anyway and that our resources are only finite. The other few articles I read mainly suggested that the problem lies with how consumerism works. The way that products are made are generally environmentally harmful due to their economic benefits; it’s cheaper to cause pollution than it is to use clean energy, it’s cheaper to keep the animals we eat on battery farms than it is to organically source them. Businesses play on the consumer’s love of bargains; cheaper produce equates to cheaper prices, which equates to more sales and growing consumerism.
On a personal level, I actually think perhaps the answer lies in both of the arguments, but I’ve hyperlinked all of the articles I have read so that you, the open minded readers, can make your own decision.
“Had history been democratic in it’s ways, there would have been no farming and no industrial revolution. Both leaps in to the future were occasioned by unbearably painful crises that made most people wish that they could recoil in to the past.” – Yanis Varoufakis, The Global Minotaur: America, the True Origins of the Financial Crisis and the Future of the World Economy.
An interesting viewpoint on the industrial revolution indeed. As a British woman I have always thought of democracy as a part of life, us Brit’s are known for our fairness – the people of Britain have a voice. I have no doubt that at the time that the industrial revolution began, the British people would have been more than grateful for this revelation: it allowed better working conditions, more job opportunities, better health care and more opportunities to have and sustain families. This along with the urbanisation of societies lead to the beginning of a rapid increase in population amongst the world. Although in relation to the rest of the world’s population growth, Britain doesn’t play a significant role in terms of numbers – it was during one of our most well known times, the Victorian era, when the industrial revolution began. This development in British history has been said to be one of the most important factors in the development of the world; whether that be negative or positive development, I’ll leave that up to you to decide. When considering the effects that the industrial revolution has had on environmental welfare, the increase in population lead to a higher demand on resources and a higher rate of fossil fuel use which is obviously extremely damaging to the environment. It could be argued that the industrial revolution was the beginning of what we now call ‘global warming’. Perhaps Mr. Varoufakis was right when he stated that the industrial revolution has left many people wishing that they could ‘recoil in to the past’. I certainly wish I lived in a world where global warming and the destruction of the planet wasn’t a growing worry to be considered every day.
Before reading Dan Brown’s ‘Inferno’ (if you haven’t already read this book I highly recommend it, it’s absolutely brilliant https://www.readanybook.com/online/565107#356867 ), I had never considered population growth to be a contributing factor to climate change and environmental welfare. The plot focuses on a peculiar man who feels that the world’s sustainable population numbers have already peaked (in fact they peaked at 4 billion) and he attempts to find a method to reduce the population growth (I won’t spoil it by giving away the ending) – but more to the point it really got me thinking… what is a sustainable number for the world’s population? As it stands at around 7.5 billion, have we seriously overstepped the mark; I personally feel we have enough resources but when looking at third world countries where people are literally starving, it does make you question things. There has always been famine in the world so this may just be a natural process of elimination and population control. But what about the strain on resources that population growth has an effect on; will the world’s population just continue to grow until we physically run out of resources and more and more people just starve to death? Perhaps, if this does occur it will be at this point that our Earth’s population will begin to level out. More to the point however, what affects is this having on the environment? We are currently in an age of technology and convenience, everyone knows that the planet is being polluted by cars, planes, factories, nuclear waste and excessive agriculture due to such a high demand on the food industry… maybe Dan Brown’s character was right, maybe we did peak at 4 billion.
When looking at a world population graph (see above) and using the website www.worldometers.info/world-population – it states that the world’s population didn’t reach 1 billion until around 1800… it is now at almost 8 billion. You have to ask yourself; how is it that for thousands of years the population seemed to be fairly low never increasing by a large amount and then all of a sudden within the space of 200 years it has risen by over 700%? It’s interesting that the world’s population began to suddenly rise at the same time that the industrial revolution began, and I will be looking in to this in further detail over the next week. But for now I will allow you to ponder, as a reader, how we as an intelligent and evolved species have arrived at this position of potential overpopulation and indefinite rapid climate change.