Want to save the world?

People who want to save the world1 actually mean something else. The world cannot be saved. If you look at the earth as a sphere with a core of liquid iron2, you have nothing to worry about, because it will keep spinning for the next hundred thousand years and we don’t need to look that far ahead anyway. Zoom in a little further and you will see that this sphere is covered with an extremely thin shell of rock, sand, earth, water and man-made materials, such as asphalt and concrete. On top of that is a layer of life: plants, animals, fungi and people. A truly fragile part of our planet.
What you could save is a particular plant or animal species, when it is in danger of becoming extinct3. But that is a huge task4. As a human being, you can actually do very little, especially on your own. It is therefore an illusion to save the world and your efforts will lead to frustration.
Where you do have influence is in the damage that is constantly being done to the earth. The modern consumer is a disaster for the planet. Every day he causes damage, thereby reducing the chances of a livable future for his children and grandchildren. And to make matters worse, he thinks this is perfectly normal. The modern lifestyle is not scrutinised, let alone challenged. It is a matter of course, a right of the consumer. He lets nothing stop him in his consumption behaviour. His only limits are the financial possibilities offered by his income or pension.
The modern consumer does not let anything stop him either. Personal freedom is the norm and someone else should not interfere with his lifestyle. The government should also respect his behaviour and choices and restrict them as little as possible. Consumers are increasingly seen as customers, who should expect customer-friendliness from companies, governments and healthcare institutions.
The identity of the modern consumer has been shaped partly under the influence of half a century of commerce and marketing. A profound change has taken place. People used to be citizens, with rights, duties and responsibilities. But that aspect has been subsumed and replaced by infantility: an aspiration to remain eternally young, youthful, carefree, without responsibility. Focusing only on the here and now and self-interest.
In my research, I have described this identity and shown the consequences it has for life on our planet. Fortunately, there is a way out. We can start identifying ourselves as global citizens and live in a planet-friendly way

  1. Best Books of People Trying to Save the World | https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/641.Best_Books_of_People_Trying_to_Save_the_World ↩︎
  2. Earth’s innermost layer is a 400-mile-wide ball of iron | https://www.cnn.com/2023/02/21/world/earths-core-iron-metallic-core-scn/index.html ↩︎
  3. One million species at risk of extinction | https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/ipbes-un-biodiversity-report-warns-one-million-species-at-risk ↩︎
  4. How to save a species | https://www.nature.com/articles/527278a ↩︎







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