Are We Living Beyond Our Environmental Means?

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NPR has recently done a story on what various countries around the world are doing to combat climate change. The results are, as expected, mixed.

Countries like Australia and China are looking to genuinely change the way they impact the environment around them. On the other hand are countries like Brazil and Canada falling way behind on their markers for environmental change. Then there’s all the countries in between the two extremes, including the United States, struggling to alleviate their negative environmental impact on the world.

One has to wonder what the appeal of polluting to excess really is, when push comes to shove. Money is, after all, only an abstraction that we’ve created and assigned value to in order to make our lives easier. It adds convenience, but it is only that: an abstraction.

If you don’t have the land to live on because it is unsafe to do so, money won’t buy it and make it better. If you don’t have clean water to drink or fresh food to eat, money won’t buy it for you. If you don’t have clean air to breathe, then surprise: money won’t buy it for you. We’ve mistaken these pieces of cloth rags for something that we need to survive, when in fact it’s all around us to begin with. We depend on the environment, like any other species, staying a particular way. We also depend on dwindling natural resources to support and sustain a lifestyle we can’t technically afford. If we run out of a resource on Earth then, guess what, money won’t buy it for you.

Money is a thing produced by the left hemisphere of the brain in order to make our world easier to live in. The trouble happens when people value this abstraction over the concrete reality (the right brain) in which we all live and are inseparably apart of. There is no other trick to this phenomenon. It’s just a question as to how a brain works, and what it values, prioritizes and seeks. Some people, unsurprisingly, are not fit for their own survival as an individual or as part of the collective species that is humanity. It is their logic and their reasoning that currently holds the highest power and the highest authority in the land, in spite of its toxicity for its own proponents and advocates, in a very real and demonstrably tangible sense.

So as you’re making your way through the next round of business negotiations, or you’re contemplating that next investment, ask yourself, how much do you really need and want that money, relative to what you need and want to survive and be well on this planet. You may want all the fancy things that money can buy you. And believe me, I’m not critical of that want in and of itself.

But when you put it into the perspective of what you need, as a living organism first, in order to be well in the fullest and smallest of senses? What is the full price that you’re paying, beyond the dollars and cents logic, that so defines and limits our world and our potential as a species? And what does that mean for your own personal self, as well as all others living in this world with you?