Roland Dürre
Tuesday August 31st, 2010

Environmental Damage and Utopia ♫

Here are some more of the ideas I typically get while on vacation…

The United Nations accuse the world’s leading concerns of having failed at a huge scale in the area of environment protection: “The natural capital of this world is destroyed on a large scale” – said UN environment chief Achim Steiner in an interview by the „Süddeutsche Zeitung“.

According to the United Nations, environmental damage done alone by the 3,000 biggest enterprises through the abuse of natural resources, the pollution of air and waters and by being responsible for the extinction of species equals the value of 1.7 billion Euros (source SZ).

To be sure, I find it absurd to calculate this kind of damage in money. Currency is virtual and volatile. Basically, the number would have to increase on a daily basis, because of inflation and the continuing destruction.

But at least a number is something you can base an argument on. The article as published in July 2010 motivated me to do some calculations myself in order to find out what they mean in terms of “per capito”.

After all, the enterprises do not damage the environment as an end in itself or because that is what they want to do. Instead, they do it by our order. We expect them to supply us with products and services at minimum cost to us. If they also maximize their profits in doing so is something you have to accept in a system we ourselves are responsible for. And as shareholders, we again profit from this profit of theirs.

Consequently, those who make the real profits are not the concerns, but we. To be sure, we get upset about the damage, but we certainly accept it tacitly.

So here is my calculation:

Let us assume that there are 6 billion people living on this planet. Of course, I know the number is higher. But 6 billion is a good number to do calculations with and the result is a per capito damage of 300 Euros. Doesn’t that sound harmless enough? Let us just all pay 300 Euros and all is well again.

Of course, it cannot be done, because the damage cannot be repaired. It is nowhere near as easy as it sounds. But let us just assume (even though it is nonsense) that the damage could be repaired with 300 Euros per capito.
Most of the people – I assume around three quarters of the population (that is more than 4.5 billion) – have to survive on a small one-digit number of Euros per day. They cannot pay 300 Euros.

Probably one quarter of the people, about 1.5 billion, live without misery. I guess the number is too high, but after all this is only a calculation. The number of relevant consumers responsible for the majority of all the damage is probably half of those, that is 750 million people. Now we are talking a damage of 2,000 Euros per capito.

All that remains to be said is:

We cannot continue in that manner! So here is what we should do:

  • Stop wasting food and fossil energy,
  • get back to a sensible mobility,
  • change false structures and
  • install a new business order.

We badly need a new basis for calculating the gross national product, for instance like proposed by the “Club of Rome”. And we need a new business structure other than communism, state and late capitalism. Change and reforms on all social levels is both appropriate and necessary.

Above all, we need a global readiness to relinquish unnecessarily high standards of living and a mutual wish for change. And we need to fight economical and religious imperialism and put an end to irrational wars.
These concepts should become the utopia of a new, world-wide, enlightened movement.

Incidentally, the time has come for this kind of utopia. Probably, the time is ripe, too. At least I, as a hopefully enlightened person of the internet age believe it is.

(Translated by EG)


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