Your ecological footprint, no system change without a reduced ecological footprint


System change, we need systemic change!

This is what you read and hear more and more in comments, articles and discussions about the health of the earth, about the alarmingly rapid change in our climate.
And that in addition to, of course, the call for Degrowth....

What is meant by this systemic change?

Insofar as you can and may explain a very complex change in a few simple sentences:

That we must move from an economy/society based on growth and profit, to an economy/society that puts well-being of nature -and humans as part of nature- first.

It also implies a change in the subsystems in our society, and these are at the same time also an important reason for the need for systemic change, because those subsystems are rather struggling or even in danger of collapsing: food supply, water supply, health care, education, elderly care, ...

But it also means a change in society, a change in your and my behavior: from ego-centric to eco-centric. And we all know how complicated radical behavioral change is, don't we?

And is it necessary, that change?

Look around and then ask again. If you don't know, or your answer is no, watch the documentary Ten Billion (2015), for example, and/or read the European Environmental Agency's latest risk assessment (2024).
If you want an impression of how capitalism has put on a green coat these days, watch the documentary Planet Of The Humans (2020):

I won't go into what that economy should look like. Many economists are racking their brains over this; different models have been developed. Some sound more attractive and feasible than others. I am not an economist, so I do a wiser job of letting the economists do their important work without bothering them with amateur theories.

What concerns me now is the word CHANGE.

What is almost always missing from messages and commentaries that shout that we need (systemic) change is HOW we are going to bring about that change.

Even worse, the political and public debate and all the information we get about the state of the earth carefully avoids the one topic that could actually do something about the rapidly deteriorating health of the earth: getting a grip on completely out-of-control human consumption.

Why is this not THE topic?

Because it would be bad for corporate profits. Because it requires honest politicians telling you that it MUST be less, and that's bad for political careers. Because you and I know that would require us to confront ourselves with our own overconsumption and work hard to consume less, much less.

How do you turn a fossil fuel engine into an electric engine? (Nice comparison to our economy, don't you think?)

If I may give you some heartfelt and urgent advice: don't do that while the engine is still running at full speed. You'll burn your hands or get completely trapped between the moving parts (think Charlie Chaplin in the movie Modern Times...). Another big risk is that the engine blows itself up completely.

You must first turn the engine off, or at least run it very, very, very slowly and disconnect it from the drive train.

Our economy does not have an on-off switch. So turning it off will have to be done by stopping the fuel supply: (over)consumption.

Whatever keeps our current economy running (and we all know there are a lot of factors, from indecisive governments that keep pushing growth, to corporations that want/need to generate high profits for their shareholders), consuming is the fuel, the people who keep buying. You and me.

All the major problems in our modern world have been caused by man and his overconsumption. In other words, once mankind began consuming more than what the earth could (re)generate and process in terms of raw materials, energy for production and transportation and "digesting" our dirt and waste, problems arose and then grew at a rapid and accelerating pace.

Systemic change, for an economy no longer based on growth and profit, requires that we stop throwing fuel into the engine. We must stop overconsuming and the associated depletion and pollution of the earth.

The questions I would ask anyone talking about systems change and Degrowth are: how big is your ecological footprint? When is it smaller than one earth, so that you are ready for change and the current economy is not fueled by your overconsumption? How do you think we can heal the rest of humanity suffering from overconsumption?

And to all the economists designing new economic models: How do you see the transition? Are you yourself ready to step into your new economic model yet?

And to you: do you already know how big your ecological footprint is? Are you ready to make that footprint (much) smaller so that the poor of this earth, future generations can have a slightly better life and nature can recover, or at least find a new balance?

I have no doubt that systemic change is urgently needed and will happen. Voluntarily, by our own actions, or forced by circumstances if we wait too long and continue with the current system.

So we had better start preparing for that change as soon as possible so that we are able to change with it, or even help initiate the change if it is too slow. Be the change you want to see, right?

Artwork: System Change (1)

System Change. That we need to move from an economy/society based on growth and profit, to one that puts well-being of nature -and humans as part of nature- first. But no change without a reduced ecological footprint

All content © 2014-2020  Jacob Berghoef