Is All Lost?

Atolls are at risk of rising sea levels

Atolls are at risk of rising sea levels

When we get up in the morning and go out into a world that’s as familiar to us as it was the day before it’s easy to forget, or to deny, that all is not well with it. But sooner or later a new headline appears that shakes us out of our comfortable delusion: extreme weather, melting ice caps, rising seas, pollution, ocean acidification, deforestation, animals pushed to the brink of extinction. The bad news is gaining weight and gathering pace, but during the periods of respite in between we somehow manage to pretend that it isn’t happening.



Ocean acidification threatens coral reefs

Ocean acidification threatens coral reefs


The environmental problems we face have become so great that the advice of James Lovelock, the scientist who proposed the Gaia hypothesis of Earth as a self-regulating system, is simply to enjoy life while you can, because in twenty years “global warming will hit the fan”. He is certain we’ve gone beyond the point of no return and nothing we do now can stop climate change and the havoc it will wreak. Reading the articles beneath those headlines it can sometimes be hard not to believe that all is indeed lost.





Dolphins swimming free in the ocean

Dolphins swimming free in the ocean

But should we really just give up? Even if reducing energy consumption, recycling, not using plastic bags, or being less wasteful can seem like futile gestures, perhaps they wouldn’t be if we all did them. Shares in SeaWorld recently fell 33% after a significant decline in ticket sales followed the release of Blackfish, a documentary that exposed the cruelty involved in capturing orcas and training them to perform tricks for human entertainment. The incarcerated killer whales might not be free yet, but if enough people stop going to see them they will be.



Marine iguana Galapagos Islands

Marine iguana Galapagos Islands


We can’t rely on corporations and governments driven by profit and economic growth to do the right thing on our behalf, we must do that for ourselves. Maybe James Lovelock is right and it is too late to save the planet as we know it, but if we can reduce our impact on it in even the smallest way, shouldn’t we at least do that? And if enough of us act then who knows, maybe we and our fellow creatures might get to enjoy more than the next twenty years after all. 

Categories: Environment | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Is All Lost?

  1. Great article, I really liked reading it. And I agree with you that it would be best to do whatever we can in the right direction. James Lovelock is an interesting thinker, although sometimes he has made claims that sound surprising. I recently wrote a post on his two most recent books, The Vanishing Face of Gaia and A Rough Ride to the Future. If you’re interested in reading it I could send you the link.

  2. Hello Brian, thanks for reading my post and taking the time to comment. I enjoyed reading your well written review of James Lovelock’s books on your blog and agree he is a very interesting independent thinker. I’m going to watch the BBC documentary you posted a link to, so thanks for that as well.

    A new report by Lord Stern disagrees with Lovelock, claiming the world can stave off the worst effects of climate change if it transforms the global economy within 15 years. It still depresses me that economic growth is mentioned as something that can not only be maintained but increased, because on a planet with finite resources only sustainability makes sense to me. “Reducing emissions is not only compatible with economic growth and development – if done well it can actually generate better growth than the old high-carbon model,” Stern says. Perhaps a new book by Naomi Klein, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, addresses what strikes me as the insane pursuit by politicians and economists for perpetual economic growth.

  3. Economic growth is not essential for our survival; reducing consumption, exploitation and waste is – my tuppence worth anyway.

  4. I completely agree with you, Valerie. Economic growth has become a kind of insane mantra for politicians, and we are destroying the environment to chase something that’s not only unnecessary, but also unsustainable. Materialism has detached us from nature and our mad pursuit of it has pushed an incredible number of species into extinction. If we don’t find a better way to live, we might follow them.

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