Producing and consuming as much as possible without a thought for the consequences – that is no longer appropriate in the 21st century. It is too wasteful.
How we produce goods and what we buy, use and eat has far-reaching impacts around the world. The energy we consume impacts on the climate, and natural resources are destroyed in order to produce many articles and foods. Goods are often manufactured in other countries, under poor working conditions. We consume fossil fuels, over-exploit natural water resources and in rich countries, huge quantities of food are simply thrown away. If more and more people manage to escape poverty in future, they too will use more energy and consume more. If we retain today’s consumption and production patterns, the consequences for our planet will be dire.
What must be done?
“Less is more” must be the motto. Industry, consumers, politicians, scientists and many more are going to have to rethink old certainties, and make more responsible use of natural resources. A great deal of education will be needed, to explain recycling and ways of reducing the use of plastic packaging, for instance. Consumers have power here. If they buy more clothing that is produced in an environmentally sound way under acceptable working conditions, industry will respond, and will produce more sustainably. But politicians too are called on to do their bit. They must gradually phase out subsidies for fossil fuels and ensure that their own public procurement is put on a sustainable footing.
Facts and figures
- Every year about one third of all food produced is thrown away, goes bad during transport, or is lost as a result of inappropriate harvest techniques.
- If the world’s population continues to grow at the same rate, by 2050 we will need almost three planets comparable to the Earth to produce enough resources to uphold our current lifestyle.
- In 2020, there will be more than 30 per cent more cars and trucks on our roads. Air traffic is expected to triple over this period.