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Climate Change and Pollution: Which is more important to fix?

Updated on January 8, 2016
TessSchlesinger profile image

After reading Rachel Carson's 'Silent Spring' in 1970, Tessa Schlesinger became a dedicated environmentalist.

Let me state my position first. To my mind, climate changes all the time. Mankind has lived through ice ages by adapting and it’s quite probable that he will survive the earth heating up a few degrees. I accept that mankind has probably been instrumental in hotter days but, again, it’s neither here or there because if the process was slower, maybe people in a thousand years would also have to adjust to a more hot earth.

My issues are with pollution and over consumption, both of which pose a deadly threat to the survival of humanity. Pollution poses a threat because it not only affects the air we breathe, but it affects the environment of all the other species on this planet, and if all the other species die, we are left in a world in which our eco-system collapses. We cannot survive without our eco-system. With regard to over consumption, Jared Diamond showed how other nations just simply died out when they used up all their resources in his book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed.

Our planet is running out of room and resources. Modern man has plundered so much, a damning report claims this week, that outer space will have to be colonised
Our planet is running out of room and resources. Modern man has plundered so much, a damning report claims this week, that outer space will have to be colonised | Source

Consumers and the ever increasing waste and consumption of our limited resources

Some decades ago (mid 90s, I think), I listened to a motivational tape by some Anthony Robbins type who said it wasn’t a problem if we used up all our coal/diamonds/oil/whatever because we were such a clever species that we would just find something to replace it. This moron, for some reason, was incapable of understanding that the earth has finite resource and no matter how clever we are, we cannot make something out of nothing. When we eventually run out of metals, minerals, clean soil, clean water, fertile land, etc., we are done for. It therefore behoves us to be very careful of how we use our natural inheritance; they are not replaceable beyond a certain point.

To quote the Global Footprint network on the topic of waste. "Today humanity uses the equivalent of 1.6 planets to provide the resources we use and absorb our waste. This means it now takes the Earth one year and six months to regenerate what we use in a year."

There are several factors that contribute to the eventual depletion of our resources. I will mention two.

  1. The ethos of wealth building
  2. The miseducation of the people.

Pollution is the introduction of contaminants into the natural environment that cause adverse change.
Pollution is the introduction of contaminants into the natural environment that cause adverse change. | Source

The ethos of wealth building

I think it was Alaine de Botton who pointed out in one of his RSA talks that the person who drove a million dollar sports car probably did so as a result of a deep, inner emptiness. Those who pursue wealth, achievement, success (and all the other synonyms for the same thing) do so because, at some level, they want the admiration and respect of other people. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be respected and admired. Most people do. However when we live in a world that only gives admiration and respect to those who are rich and famous (powerful), we set the stage for enormous numbers of people who will strive for that wealth.

People will no longer be willing to live in a small house or use a phone for ten years instead of two years. They will be motivated to buy a car that uses up more resources because it attracts more admiration than one which is basic and utilizes less resources. People will buy items of clothing that cost enough to feed a thousand children for a year simply in order to elicit attention, and then once it’s worn, they won’t wear it again as it has had its use.

With 7.5 billion people on earth and with more and more people being desperate for the respect and admiration of others, more and more people are making more and more products and using up more and more resources (which eventually fill up more and more landfills). The over fishing of our seas where fish are packaged, then NOT sold, and eventually dumped is an example of waste at the expense of our natural resources. And as Jared Diamond so eloquently showed in the above mentioned book, every time a nation uses up all its resources, they die out (the people of Easter Island are an example).

The single cause of virtually every major problem on the planet today. This is a must-watch.

The brainwashing, indoctrination, and miseducation of the people

Those who understand that all advertising is a means of commercial propaganda using brainwashing understand that the reason 99% of people will replace their phones every second year is because they have been brainwashed to do so. They also understand that the reason people buy particular brands, buy more than they need, and continue to buy in the face of increasing credit card debt or buy more than they can afford do so because they’ve been indoctrinated to spend, spend, and spend.

A century ago, people did not do this. In fact, the major reason for the Great Depression was the over production of goods which nobody wanted to buy. The reason people weren’t interested in buying all those products was because somewhere around 75% of people lived in rural areas and advertising had not yet been invented. In addition, neither radio nor television was yet a standard household item. Circa, 1930, when all the dust had settled, Edward Bernays, Freud’s nephew, suggested to commerce that they use certain techniques to convince people to buy. In fact, Hitler used Bernays’ methodology in his political ascent.

Century of Self

Schools also now teach individuals to pursue their own personal glory rather than the greater good of the community or humanity. When individuals are taught this from an early age, people become unaware of how their actions impact the world around them. So they are mis-educated.

We’re digging a grave for ourselves. And we’re digging that grave because we’ve been brainwashed to use, consume, flaunt, boast, want more and more and more, and never to stop wanting stuff until our last breath.

The consumerism of the 20th and 21st century is an evil of gigantic proportion. Its outcome is eventual destruction and death for all.

The garbage dumped in the ocean every year is roughly around 14 billion pounds. Plastic is the major constituent.
The garbage dumped in the ocean every year is roughly around 14 billion pounds. Plastic is the major constituent. | Source
It is an ecosystem health issue, driven by great global processes" such as climate change and other factors, Melin said. Although the phenomenon is not directly linked to El Nino, "El Nino is not helping the situation," she said. "There is something
It is an ecosystem health issue, driven by great global processes" such as climate change and other factors, Melin said. Although the phenomenon is not directly linked to El Nino, "El Nino is not helping the situation," she said. "There is something | Source

Pollution our land, air, seas, lakes, and rivers.

The problem with the climate change argument is that it’s all focused on the increase of carbon dioxide in the air. They’re not talking about the fact that trees breathe in carbon dioxide and so a simply solution is plant a massive number of trees. No, instead, they’re cutting down the remaining rain forests. They’re not talking about the acidifying of our sea and the subsequent death of fish. They’re not talking about the excessive amount of methane that is produced by cows for meat farming. Nor do they mention the plastic in the oceans, the increasing numbers of landfills that take up more and more land, the proliferation of nuclear power stations that are waiting for the next tsunami, earthquake, meteor arrival, and/or attack of war. Nobody is mentioning that our soil is now becoming toxic due to everything from the mercury in fluorescent light bulbs being dumped in the trash, the lead, sulfuric acid and cadmium in batteries, insecticides and pesticides being sprayed on vast tracts of land (soil pollution), and that as it becomes toxic, plants and trees no longer grow there. Soil erodes Deserts become more common place. Food becomes scarce. Anyone wondering why food has become so expensive these last ten years?

Two other factors lead to mental health issues – noise pollution and light pollution. For the life of me, I cannot figure out why our cities have to be lit up like neon crackers every night. There is absolutely no reason whatsoever that lights shouldn’t be switched off at a certain point. If people aren’t home by ten in the evening, that’s their problem. Quite apart from the fact that our bodies need darkness to sleep, the degree of energy that these lights use could probably save us two centuries of fuel.

Noise pollution affects people’s ability to think rationally. It’s impossible to sort out a math problem when there is excessive background noise. In subtle ways, this affects the well being of all of us.

Any number of contaminants can end up groundwater, including sewage, prescription medications, agricultural chemicals, microorganisms, road salt, landfill seepage, petroleum products, chemicals, and hazardous waste such as nuclear waste.
Any number of contaminants can end up groundwater, including sewage, prescription medications, agricultural chemicals, microorganisms, road salt, landfill seepage, petroleum products, chemicals, and hazardous waste such as nuclear waste. | Source

Business drives pollution

The biggest culprit for pollution is commerce. Commerce and industry produce the indigo dyes that seep into the rivers and countryside when producing denim. Commerce is responsible for the oil and gas/petrol that seeps into our oceans when it sails passenger ships, cargo ships, oil tankers, across the ocean. Industry rapes our earth when it propels toxic chemicals into the land in order to find yet more gas (fracking). The textile industry (soft furnishings, curtains, clothing, carpets, yacht sails, leather, etc.) uses Cr IV Chromiumin to dye and it is highly toxic – fatal in some instances. Then there’s the production of manmade textiles like viscose (made from the pulp of wood), nylon, acrylic, polyester, etc. as well as the production of paints with volatile organic compounds which have long term ill health effects. Business manufactures the weapons of war which are sold to governments, the cigarettes and the drugs and the alcohol which are stress releasers, and the endless sugar and starch which are responsible for the explosion of obesity.

And all of this, not because human beings are in desperate need of them, but because so many want to make money. Naturally, the biggest threat to business is government legislation that stops pollution. Without the ability to pollute freely, many business would go out of business, and that’s the source of climate change denial.

How mankind pollutes every single day for thousands and thousands of years.

Which do you think is the most important?

See results

Do I care about climate change? No. I care about pollution and the waste of our resources.

And if you don’t see where that is going to lead, then I don’t know what more to say.

Business is a human construct that takes advantage of the cycle of production and distribution necessary for human survival. There is no reason why we shouldn’t eliminate business and find more sustainable ways of production and distribution.

© 2015 Tessa Schlesinger

Comments

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    • TessSchlesinger profile imageAUTHOR

      Tessa Schlesinger 

      10 months ago from South Africa

      Jorge, you do not say what your solution is. I read your article on why plants are not the solution. Interestingly, a recent study indicated that increased CO2 in the air lowered the nutrients in plants and this had a negative effect on all life that fed on plant life.

    • Jorge Cruz99 profile image

      Jorge 

      10 months ago from Canada

      Hi Tessa,

      You take a very interesting position in relation to pollution and climate change, the issue is that both are interrelated. The main alarm about current climate change is not the change itself, but the speed at which it is happening, unprecedented in the history of Earth, and this is due to atmospheric pollution. Therefore pollution leads to climate change. I think, after all, we are on the same side.

      I have a proposal for both pollution and climate change, I invite you and others to check it out.

    • Angel Guzman profile image

      Angel Guzman 

      17 months ago from Joliet, Illinois

      Great read. It's really unfortunate the hard truths about how badly our planet is now. We have made improvements but we need to drastically cut our waste even more!

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