Shift away from ‘outrageous over-consumption’ called for

Liz Slooten.
Liz Slooten. PHOTO: ODT FILES
A limit to growth sounds unappealing and yet that is exactly what the planet needs, University of Otago marine biologist Liz Slooten says.

Prof Slooten is the new chairwoman of Dunedin-based Wise Response, a coalition of academics, engineers, lawyers and artists that has campaigned on environmental issues for the better part of a decade.

While the challenge of climate change was often foremost in the public eye, overpopulation and over-consumption were the major issues driving that problem, she said.

"It sounds like, who could ever be opposed to growth?

"It’s a brilliant concept that they chose that word for this outrageous over-consumption and inequality that is happening.

"There is some kind of economic machine in the background saying we must have ever-increasing energy use, ever-increasing amount of travel, ever-increasing amount of importing goods.

"Apples from New Zealand being sent to the States and apples from the States coming back here ... it’s completely mad."

Prof Slooten takes over from Prof Sir Alan Mark (88), whom she called a trailblazer in conservation, a tireless campaigner and a "hugely important figure" in New Zealand’s environmental movement.

"He’s just been this huge figure in conservation and science and has done a beautiful job of combining those," she said.

Sir Alan said he could no longer put the time he needed into the role, but he would continue to live a life consistent with the values he campaigned for, including limiting his contribution to climate change.

"On a per capita basis we’re extravagant [in New Zealand]," he said.

"Our contribution per person, per capita is massive.

"We need to be aware of what we’re leaving for our kids and our grandkids; it’s a [big] mess."

This year Wise Response has written submissions on the proposed South-Eastern South Island Marine Protected Network; the Covid-19 Recovery (Fast-Track Consenting) Bill; the Otago Regional Council’s annual plan; the proposed National Inshore Fisheries Plan; the review of the Crown Minerals Act 1991; the Climate Change Response (Emissions Trading Reform) Bill; and open letters to the Minister of Finance regarding monetary policy, government debt and bonds, as well as an "intergenerational open letter for climate action now" to the New Zealand Government.

hamish.maclean@odt.co.nz

Comments

Quoting Prof Slooten: "It’s a brilliant concept that they chose that word [growth] for this outrageous over-consumption and inequality that is happening.
I totally agree. Capitalism has it's darker side, and by it's very nature the percieved ability to continue 'growing' is nonsense.
And quite right, while we wring our collective caps about climate change, we continue to import rubbish, travel unabated and think nothing of adding to the weight of human overpopulation. The earth isn't expanding.....but human 'growth' certainly is.
A massive change in how we function as a society is desperatly required. Trouble is, we're entrenched so deeply in our ways a turn would be almost impossible. The 'Global Economic Machine' isn't the GEM we thought it would be. It continues to feed inequality.
The dramatic sudden change in human 'growth' was the 'Industrial Revolution'. We would need to change our ways at three times that scale to make a difference.
Are we up for that sort of challenge?

Sounds like they do some great work. More and more people are starting to realise that time is running out if we are to save this planet from a 6th mass extinction. The more action we take now the less it will cost mankind in the future.
Many media outlets are now committed to helping the future of this planet by committing resources and prioritising environmental reports and articles in their publications. Please ODT I ask you to do the same. Locally, nationally and globally their are many individuals and organisation fighting to protect this planet and all life upon it. Please help.

I'm sure they would.

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