Dear humanity, this isn’t working.
We’re in the middle of a global pandemic; the economy is hanging on by a thread while lockdowns persist, millions are food insecure, and millions more will go hungry if we don’t face these issues head-on.
As COVID-19 disrupts international supply chains, limits farmers’ access to markets, and disproportionately damages the livelihood of those most fiscally vulnerable, we experience the consequences of passive inaction.
Granted, there are some positive effects of the pandemic. The air quality of the most polluted urban areas of the world is improving. Waterways are cleaner than they have been in decades. Less marine traffic has allowed ocean life to return to occupy their own environment. Yet these accolades rest unsteadily upon the shoulders of the victors. The moment we return to life as “normal”, any positive changes could quickly be reversed.
This is precisely why we must take this time in lockdown to consider which of our activities are incompatible with a desirable future for humanity. Only a mindset of ignorance suggests that we must persist in destructive behaviour. Memes published lately suggest that “humanity is the real pandemic”. As we see the natural world uniquely bereft of our disastrous interference, this could unfortunately prove true. However, we have the power to rewrite our destiny. We have the option of improving ourselves, our society, and our relationship to the natural world.
For humanity to thrive in the future, we must learn to be more adaptive, cooperative, and respectful. Otherwise ignorance, selfishness, and greed will ensure our own destruction. We have already seen the damning effects that human activity has wrought upon the Earth. We act as if all resources are infinitely deposited. Endless oil, fresh water, food, land to deplete, deforest, and pave over. Yet, we live in a finite planet. Short of terra-forming Mars or relocating human society to man-made space stations, there is not much we can do but change our ways for our own good.
Sustainable business and sustainable living do not have to be incompatible with economic growth. New and existing companies can tap into consumer interest and adapt their service to match demand for eco-friendly products and practices. We already see this happening across industries all over the world. Energy companies that rely on fossil fuels to enrich executives and please shareholders can diversify their projects to include or even shift completely into clean energy pursuits. Even animal agriculture titans can invest in plant-based “meat” products, diversifying their portfolios to address the blossoming vegan movement.
When consumers are educated on the problems of the world and potential solutions, new markets arise. In fact, this is part of our hope with the Vancouver Vegetarian Society! We know it is possible for people to live fulfilling, enjoyable, successful lives while making ethical choices. Our team and followers are made up of such folk. Why would we actively choose to pollute and condemn the Earth when our dollars, efforts and thoughts could vote for a better world?
Living in Vancouver, we are lucky enough to have access to food, clothing, vehicles/bicycles, public transport, community gardens or farmers’ market, products all made ethically, or that promote more sustainable and ethical habits. We can support our local economy, vote with our money for a more compassionate society. We should not pay for slaughter, slave labour, corruption, and environmental disaster. We have the responsibility as educated citizens to choose a better world for ourselves and our children. When we treat our planet, our neighbours, and animals with respect we have the beautiful opportunity to forge a new way. One that provides us with a genuine future, while ensuring we can feel good about how we are spending our precious time.