The New York Times Dot Earth Blog
How Many, How Much
Sallan says Andy Revkin's "Endless Pursuit of Unnecessary Things" asked the wrong questions.
This Presidential election season is a good time to ask the right ones. Read Nancy's comment #21 in response to Revkin's Feb 6 Posting.
By asking about the sustainability of our collective future in terms of “how many people” and “how much will they consume”, I hear Four Horsemen in Hair Shirts clattering toward us to save the planet! But when they arrive, will Americans, Chinese and everyone else mend their “too many and too much” ways in the face of war, famine and disease? Fear and want rarely bring out the best in us and dire conditions can turn anyone into an immigrant or a case of population excess. Perhaps this Hair Shirt foursome will make us profligates mend our ways and emulate the environmentally virtuous, but don’t count on it.
Today, sustainability and climate aren’t make the cut of top issues in the US Presidential race. The fact is that by casting these critical issues as a matter of consumer choice and lifestyle is deeply apolitical and it means that they won’t make the cut. But it’s not too late to find the public and collective aspects of a path toward sustainability, but we have to start by asking the right questions.