“The darker it gets, the faster we’re driving.”

Early in “The Day the World Stops Shopping: How Ending Consumerism gives Us a Better Life and a Greener World,” J. B MacKinnon writes: “At the turn of this new millennium, according to the United Nations’ panel of experts on international resources, consumption quietly surpassed population as our greatest environmental challenge.”

MacKinnon goes on to observe that we are responding to this “not by reducing our consumption, but by attempting to green it.”

MacKinnon cautions, in a measured, non-fanatic way, that our daily approach to consumption “has become, quite simply, the question of whether we can sustain human life on Earth “

While we may, and must try, various solutions to this dilemma, ultimately we would do well to realize that there are “two distinct paths that humans could take to meeting everyone’s wants and needs. The first….to produce much….the second….to want little.”

A 2020 research study titled “Scientists’ warning on affluence”, suggests that the development of sustainable technologies (means of production) is not quite the definitive answer. The authors of this study, Tommy Wiedmann, Professor at the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, UNSW Sydney, Manfred Lenzen, Professor at the University of Sydney, Lorenz Keyßer (and others) write: “The overwhelming evidence….is that globally, burgeoning consumption has diminished or cancelled out any gains brought about by technological change aimed at reducing environmental impact.”

In the 1990 “Last Chance to See”, co-authored by the wise and humorous writer Douglas Adams, and the zoologist Mark Carwardine, we read: “while nature has considerable resilience, there is a limit to how far that resilience can be stretched. No one knows how close to the limit we are getting. The darker it gets, the faster we’re driving.”

Towards the end of his 2003 address to the US Congress, Thich Nhat Hanh brings up the importance of “Mindful consumption.” When we are not mindful, “the environment suffers,” and we “continue to bring the elements of craving, fear and violence into ourselves.”

Responding to a question, the sage observes that “The way we eat, the way we watch television, the way we entertain ourselves is bringing a lot of destruction into us and into our children….we destroy our environment and we destroy ourselves.”

“The way out,” Thay teaches, “is mindful consumption, mindful production of items of consumption.”

Peace 😊

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