Nature Under Human Nature: Why are we so destructive?

In the wake of Angela Merkel’s push at the recent G7 conference to phase out fossil fuels, assuming (for some optimism in this article) the G7 leaders will commit to this by 2020, and of the further Greenpeace protests as local Seattle residents attempted to block Shell’s oil-rig leaving for the Arctic, governmental power and people power stand under a good light concerning the environment. However, in the wake of good governmental action and people power, we cannot pat ourselves on the backs and forget the environmental harm of the human species.

To really knuckle down on individual gestures that will reduce one’s carbon footprint, resource depletion and intoxication of the earth, air and sea, you need to assess your consumer habits. These habits influence industries’ overall footprint because of a reciprocity with the consumer. In order to understand your consumer habits, you need to reflect on your own natural needs and preferences as a human being. We can blame evolution to our heart’s content to justify our habits as destroyers of the environment but, until we actually crack the code to find alternative products and resources and remain content in our world, we appear to be done for. Clap politicians and campaigners, shame the general public. Let’s have a look at some reasons for our doom.

Article pic G7

Because we like to keep warm.

Well, maybe this is not an issue to get wound up about. We have to keep ourselves warm, and the G7’s (eventual) agreement to combat the link between heating buildings and global warming means this is a worry of the past – or at least 2020’s past. Let’s relax there.

Because we like eating meat.

Now, due to the tremendous amount of space and food supplies large animals like cows take up to be farmed, meat contributes to 51% of greenhouse gases. Forests are destroyed in the process so gases cannot be absorbed and converted into that vital component for living, oxygen. Thus the carnivorous consumer kills two birds with one stone – or rather one cow and one tree with numerous plates – to hurt the ecosystem. For all the climate change skeptics out there, of course eating beef and other animals is not harmful, except it is not just C02 and oxygen that makes up the environment: we humans also live on this planet and have our rights so, hopefully, research into the possibilities of solving the world hunger crisis by providing efficient vegetation and forestry in place of methane-fart-filled cattle fields is enough to encourage a reduction of meat consumption. Anyway, enough with the bias. You’re reading to be informed on problems, not persuaded on solutions. Yet, the G7’s targets will ignore this issue without regulation on meat prices and the individual’s decision to explore the varieties of the protein cuisine.

Because we like to smell nice… or, at least, we don’t like to smell gross.

Indeed, we are all entitled to a splendid social and sex life, to which our personal scent, alongside hairstyle and facial make-up, contributes so significantly. But our fragrances are not only carcinogenic to our own bodies but are getting washed down the sinks into the sea and soil and sprayed into the air we breathe, causing our planet to become increasingly unhealthy for the sake of commercial aromas. Unlike the will on the part of nations and even individuals to change particular resources and products that the rest of the global population consumes, wherein one is willing to make minor financial sacrifices for the greater good, none of us are willing to step ahead of the crowd to smell unpleasant and, in some cases, look un-trendy. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the US has concerned itself with fragrances in their research, including the development of less damaging alternatives using a Safer Choice Label but this is only progress. Also, even if you took the initiative to only clean yourself without adding fragrances throughout the day, the hope is needed that governments and companies are going to put an end to poisonous micro-beads being used in our lotions, cosmetics and toothpastes. Progress should be on the go here but this is still yet another scary environmental killer incorporated into our daily consumerism. The good news is that a healthier diet, including a reduction of red meat, is suggested to improve body odour so you’d be killing two birds with one stone – or rather saving a cow and killing some sweat-borne bacteria with a bowl of salad – to protect both the environment and your social status.

Because we’re cynical.

Everything is just green crap, there’s nothing the individual can do alone and everything in this article is just repeated scaremongering.

Article pic cattle

Writing an environmental article can feel awkward in practice. You’re not furthering already-existing fall-outs with political oppositions: you’re patronising the entire population, bar the utmost dedicated environmentalists, as morons who have nobody but themselves to blame for the poisoned legacy of their children’s children’s children’s generation. However, looking at all habits in relation to this nearing deadline of 2020, that has been discussed as utopia’s beginning for forever and a day, we’re too pressed for time to singularly attack governments and corporations and not ourselves. Unfortunately, the discussed points on human nature’s impact appear to boil down to blaming our senses and there are only so many constraints we can make on the urges of our eyes and taste and smell.

Hopefully, this relatively cynical article will put you, dear reader, through the prove-wrong theory and you’ll click the tab with the confidence to cut down on your personal footprint. No pressure from your neighbours, flatmates or family that you’re becoming a hippy with your new home-made deodorising ointment made from mint leaves. No being told you’re wasting your time with your new legume-only diet. Hats off to you, public. Do your bit.


Tom Shacklock



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