I have been really well behaved today [Sunday]. I haven't used the kettle, I haven't listened to any music, I didn't go anywhere that needed petrol-powered transport. But it didn't make me feel better. In fact, I had a hot shower, cooked dinner that had meat in it, and turned on the computer to check my e-mails. So I have actually not been that environmentally friendly at all.
That's the problem with the environment. It's a very negative issue. People talk about saving the environment, but what are they doing? In practice, the only thing we can do is limit the effect we have on the environment. Let's take a few simple examples. A drink of water has a negative impact due to the amount of chemicals that are used in the water treatment plants to make it drinkable. If your drink is tea instead, then above the environmental cost of the water, we can add the huge amount of electricity used by the kettle, and the energy used to transport the tea over the thousands of miles from India or wherever. Another example, if you read a newspaper, the paper comes from trees being cut down, and the printing process is a very dirty one environmentally. After the paper has been read once it is thrown away, and even if it is recycled, that takes energy too. Yes, nothing that you do is environmentally neutral, let alone environmentally friendly!
But it's not even clear what we are trying to achieve? A good way to make the issue more attractive would be to create meaningful targets.
One target could be that we want to use only as much energy as the world can produce... that way we are living sustainably. It is a long way off, but if we were to succeed in that and no more, the whole world would be farmland and plantations, with no wilderness and no wildlife to protect. For me, I don't like that scenario, I'd want to go further.
Another target would be to create a world that is unaffected by humans. That is to say, a world that functions as it would if humans were not here. This is not realistic, however. Humans are here, and there are several billion of us, so we will have an effect on the planet. We could think of negating this effect by efforts of conservation, such as by saving endangered species and encouraging species diversity through habitat maintenance. But we must remember that a goal of a world unaffected by humans is not the same as a the goal of an unchanged world. An unchanging world is not a natural situation, as woolly mammoths and dinosaurs can testify (well, they can't, but that's kind of the point, isn't it). There should be some animals that become extinct, and some change in global temperatures, but everything happens very slowly. As we cannot tell how the world would develop without humans, an unaffected planet is not possible.
This shows that even taking the most optimistic scenario (which is impossible to achieve in practice), we will fail in our goals and the planet will suffer as a consequence of human existence.
There is a more positive outlook: ignore all of the environmental propaganda and see the world from a realistic standpoint. All animals have their effect on their habitat and the environment in which they live. Humans are no different. We should not apologise for what is happening. Even in the worst predictions (except those in environmental propaganda), only a small percentage of animals are going to die out during the next century, and the world's temperature should level off in a couple of centuries too. We have nothing to worry about.
The environmental movement is counterproductive. Its only achievement is to make people less productive. You can't do anything, because "it's bad for the environment" to do anything. Don't travel, don't communicate, don't read, don't expand your horizons, don't carry out scientific research... our lives will shrink away to nothing. But you won't achieve anything by that, and your life will lose all meaning. Ignore them, and don't worry, the world is a big place... it'll look after itself.
For more on this check this page again on Sunday 12th.