I want to thank all those who took the time out of their busy lives to respond to my article, ‘The Price of Excess.’
First let me defend my use of the term – Western Lifestyle, which Serg took exception to. I use the term western lifestyle because it is a commonly used generalization for the lifestyle lived in the west. I know it is a life style that is also enjoyed in Europe and parts of Asia and they probably have other terms for expressing their culture, but here in the west we have adopted, Western Lifestyle. Wikipedia has this to say: Western Lifestyle is defined as a social classification of people significantly influenced by the (often romanticized) attitudes, ethics and history of the American Western Cowboy Culture. This lifestyle affects this sector of population’s choice of recreation, clothing, and consumption of goods.
Regarding the observations I made as to the state of the world and our impact on that world I found that some of you agree, some disagree, and some appeared to choose the safe position of sitting on the fence. The comment that surprised me the most was that my article was in support of socialism and/or communism. The point I was trying to make was that unless we take care of the earth we may not have to worry about any form of government. There will be nothing left to govern.
Regina made the point that perhaps if we had a complete history of the weather patterns from the beginning of time we would see that the exceptional weather that is plaguing all regions of the earth over the last few years is not unusual. Perhaps she is right. But what if she isn’t?
Imagine that the world is a large manor house or even a palace. A Brideshead Revisited type of house, or say Blenhem Palace, the childhood home of Sir Winston Churchill. Imagine that. What if that house were threatened. Do you think that all that live in that house, from the lord of the manor down to the lowliest scullery maid, wouldn’t be concerned for the overall welfare of their place of residence, their livelihood? What if to save the house all were called upon to ration their daily intake of food and water? All were encouraged to wear last year’s fashions and generally curb all discretionary spending. Would they do it? Would you?
I recently read a National Geographic Magazine article that stated that the earth has the same amount of water that was present during the time of the dinosaurs. I found that hard to believe because I don’t necessarily believe all that I read, but I do tend to believe such a venerable publication as the National Geographic.
The article stated that the amount of water on the earth, that was present at the time of the dinosaurs, is the same amount that is present today. It has not been diminished by one ounce but it may not be enough to sustain the world’s present day population. I worry about that. I worry about the people who struggle daily to get enough to drink, never mind enough to bath in or wash their clothes. We read daily about how the population continues to grow. Are you getting worried too?
I would enjoy my western standard of living much more if I weren’t aware of what it is costing all those who do without, so that I may drive an adequate car and live in a comfortable house.
Thank you, Sheila, that you returned to the topic. I agree with you completely that we should not take everything for granted. But I think nature in a whole adjusts manhood and the damage we can cause and have already caused to her. What I said sounds cruel but if you look around you can see that what nature has been already doing to us to adjust us.
Nature is alive. It is not a building and short supply of goods in it. There is an evolution of everything: of us, of climate, of nature, of our style of consumption, and what available for that consumption.We are not out of nature or above it, we are a part of it. It is a synthesis.
Sometimes I wonder what would happen after we extract all oil from the earth? The whole history of mankind is much shorter that the time necessary to nature «to make» oil, and we , it seems, extract it much faster than it could be «replaced». Well, then I suppose 🙂 we, as a mankind, would need «to adjust » our style of living and go back to houses and coal trains. Will be it a disaster? I do not think so. Our lives will just become slower. Is it bad? I do not think so. We will adjust, believe me. 🙂
I have read this article, the previous one and all the comments.
It was an interesting reading but I met this topic before.
Actually it was given in a slightly different form but the gist was the same.
In every English exam, in its writing section (either it is IELTS or TOEFL or whatever) I saw an essay topic like this:
«Do you think that it is just/fair that top division football players / sport celebrities / movie stars / famous singers etc — annually get millions of dollars and at the same time people who benefits society / (are more useful for the mankind — teachers, nurses, doctors, scientists etc) earn considerably less money ? What can be done about this ?»
And after I summarized all the sample answers to this topic (those answers were given at the first place to teach the reader how to write an essay in English, but it did not make them untrue), so the general answer to this question is — firstly — a strict taxation policy and secondly — the feasible ( fair if you like) redistribution of taxpayers’ money (for social an environmental needs).
Now I will give my opinion about «huge SUVs» mentioned in this article.
As far as I know — in the US — gas prices and tire (tyre) prices are taxed, so the bigger the vehicle and the more mileage it makes the more taxes the driver/owner pays. This is indirect taxation and I consider it «not enough strict» or less effective.
How it is done in Canada — I have no idea, please tell me!
In the country I still live in — annual tax for a vehicle is calculated on the basis of its engine volume. The bigger the engine=fuel consumption=vehicle size the more the owner pays. Furthermore, this relation is not linear, it is rather exponential. This is a good point about «strict taxation».
But the second point — «feasible» redistribution — is not met in my country. Firstly the government does not direct much money to education, healthcare, social programs etc, secondly even the money which were assigned for those purposes are embezzled by local government officers.
Sorry it has taken me a while to respond to your comment. I have been away attending a family reunion.
So right about nature’s ability to adapt. I recently watched a CBC documentary on how different regions of the oceans are loosing sufficient levels of oxygen to support the existing plant and fish life. Scientists have found that some fish and plants have managed to adapt in order to thrive. I find this sort of news encouraging as I’m sure that no one from this generation wants to totally destroy the world for the generations to come.
So beautiful stated “We are not out of nature or above it, we are part of it.” Wonderful. And so, so true.
A world without oil would prompt the necessity to turn back the clock. No more huge, gas, guzzling transport trucks. There would be alternate energy fueled vehicles but they would be expensive and thus out of the reach of most. We would go back to relying on trains to move people and goods. Cities would sprout up along the rail lines as before. Every family would have a large garden as fresh goods would be prohibitive. And, yes, people would adapt and thrive.
I am not surprised that you have countered this topic before. It is impossible to go to a book store and not see many books addressing this topic. Or turn on the television, radio or any other social media and not be faced with some aspect of this topic. When we are told by our governments to conserve water, recycle all that we can, walk or ride our bikes to work we are being reminded of this topic. No one can claim ignorance when it comes to doing their share to try to lesson their impact on the world. Unfortunately as we reach a crisis as to the state the world is in we are also had the height of what I consider to be “meism”. Today in all ‘western societies’ it is truly “All About Me!!”
In Canada the bigger the vehicle the more gas it takes so yes overall you are paying a premium to operate it. (And gas is highly taxed)
Unfortunately, people are choosing these big vehicles whether they can afford them or not and more importantly, whether they need them or not. An oil field worker or construction worker may need a large truck to support their work. But does the average housewife with two kids to transport to school not need a Cadillac Escalade to get the job done?
Thank you for sharing with the readers your ideas on the inequalities of the world. Unfortunately, some things will never change.
Couldn’t help but wondering: were you talking about Israel when you mentioned «the country you still live in»? Just curious, that’s all…