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A conflict between the economy and the environment

May 1, 2013

This is a hot topic in our present day society. The political arguments about the carbon tax have gone back and forth here in Australia for the last two years has shown no signs of winding down. When it comes to jobs and the economy opponents of any tax or cost with respect to the environment have a potent case that can sway voters and change governments. Al Gore who himself is no stranger to political shenanigans has spoken and written on this topic eloquently through books such as ‘The Tipping Point’ and the film ‘An inconvenient truth’. That the world has been facing a crisis in sustainable development and consumption is not news although actually doing something about it has proven more problematic to say the least.

We can all make a difference and we can begin by reducing waste. When I was working in Japan as a teacher of English I was part of an environmental group that endeavoured to urge Tokyo residents to recycle and reuse. I must admit it was a hard sell in that many Japanese considered the purchase of new household items, electronics and cars to be good for the economy. We here in Australia are not far from that view now in that where once an average person would get something repaired the contemporary solution is to replace it with something new. Certain items are now so cheap such replacement is conventional wisdom. This does have unintended consequences. For example the ultra- inexpensive clothes you and I buy at places like K Mart are more often than not made by what amounts to slave labour working in appalling conditions. The recent fire that claimed hundreds of lives in a clothing factory in Bangladesh is testimony to that. Similarly electronic goods such I-phones and laptop computers are commonly assembled by poorly paid workers in Asia and in the undeveloped world generally. Perhaps paying a little bit more would be the humane way to go. Also along those lines saving energy is beneficial to the planet so car- pooling and spending less time in the shower could be a start.

The super- rich lifestyle can only last so long and by some estimates we need or shall soon need multiple planet earths to just keep up. Each individual can make a contribution here and I certainly intend to do so. Not doing so doesn’t bear thinking about with respect to future generations.      .

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One Comment leave one →
  1. May 1, 2013 4:58 pm

    Absolutely right.

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