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Published: September 30th 2021
In this fine article, George Monbiot argues that a growing world population and economic expansionism mean we are heading for disaster: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/sep/29/green-growth-economic-activity-environment
I sent the article to my friend, Derek Evans, who replied as follows: Monbiot is right. He's nearly always right. I've been saying for some time - years now? - that it's all much too late. We had one planet and we have indeed (your word) fucked it up. We're past the tipping point to disaster. And in any case human population and pollution is still increasing. It isn't reducing. It hasn't even started reducing. So we are sort of, by definition, fucked. There are now too many simultaneous and increasing problems assaulting the environment for it to stand any chance at all. Now, if this is true, if I am correct, then where does this leave us philosophically? What, now, is the point of life?
Here is my reply to Derek: Philosophically, we have to do the following: 1) raise awareness of the crisis 2) carry on enjoying life 3) carry on being good to our families and neighbours. I am very glad to have had a privileged life
- no war, no great personal disasters, lots of wonderful experiences. Is there an answer to the overpopulation problem? Yes: contraception. We have to reduce the size of families to 2 children max. If people flout this regulation, they will be punished financially. The financial deterrent will surely work. Nature may well play a role in reducing the world population - I am thinking of future pandemics much worse than Covid. One more thing that has to happen: we have to stop our addiction to meat. The stats are frightening - so much land area and so many resources are given over to the raising of cattle, pigs, sheep, goats and chickens. We must become vegetarians. This, of course, will not happen. Nor will all the other initiatives happen - because of governments with short-term agendas. So we are basically fucked!
And here is my friend Chris Henry’s take on the subject: Philosophically, what is the point of life? I don’t believe there is one. There being a point to life or having some meaning is surely a human invention - like ethics, gods and morals. Good for helping us live together
without killing each other (too much) but not actually ‘real’ in any sense. As far as I know, ALL of life, apart from human life, does perfectly well without such notions. To me, the search for The Meaning of Life is (apart from being a poor Monty Python film) just the downside of the big brains which have given us so many advantages. My fervent hope is that ‘the big one’, whatever that turns out to be, will not come about until sometime after I have shuffled off. Selfish? Yes, but again, all life, apart from human life, is entirely selfish. Human life, on the other hand, is only mostly selfish. My guess is that we’ll struggle on for a few generations yet, but from now on it is always going to feel like the end is just around the next corner. Ultimately we will make the world uninhabitable for humans and for many (most?) other animals, but something will surely survive and rekindle the process. Happy Thursday.
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