Climate change and Hypermaterialism

Hands holding a small plant

What do melting glaciers, rising seas, and extreme weather have in common? Yes, climate change. Chosen as the Oxford word of the year 2019, "climate emergency" is more than a buzzword. Climate change is the greatest crisis of all times that threatens the very fabric of life on earth. From the ice covered Arctic ocean to the dusty deserts of Africa, the effect of climate change is universal. 

Years of catering to the never-ending human demands have put tremendous pressure on the planet's resources. The planet is warming up at an unprecedented rate, sea levels are rising, wildfires are raging across countries, glaciers are melting and wildlife is disappearing. 

All these disasters have stemmed from our fixation on hyper materialism. The cult of greed and overconsumption is underpinned by the capitalist society that operates the oppressive system. Everything we consume and throw away for a moment's happiness has been made from a limited number of resources. Felling of forests for extraction of raw materials and careless waste disposal is responsible for habitat destruction and increased vulnerability to infectious diseases. According to researchers, if the current trend of inefficient consumption continues, by 2030, humanity would require two planets to support their lifestyle. 

Usually, the argument of overconsumption correlates to the increasing population, that an increase in population means an increase in demands, therefore, an increase in consumption of resources. Nevertheless, the problem of overconsumption has always been culturally and geographically biased. There are more than 7 billion people on earth and roughly half of the world's population do not have access to clean drinking water. 

The plutocrats benefiting from the vicious cycle of mindless consumption are not the ones who bear the consequences. A disproportionate measure of these harmful impacts is relegated to the poorest and the most vulnerable, ergo amplifying the systemic environmental injustice and inequality.  

The 12th Sustainable development goal of "responsible consumption and production" adopted by the United Nations cannot be achieved until there's a progressive revolution in the way goods are produced and consumed. To achieve that we need to root out the cause of hyper materialism & work towards reducing inequality and destroying the structural systemic oppression. 

With our climate changing unpredictably, everyone must do their share to lessen their environmental footprint and shift towards a sustainable lifestyle. And yet, that is not going to be enough. We need to shift the narrative from "individual efforts" to the global collective effort. We need to hold governments, policymakers & fossil fuel companies accountable for their overpriced & contrived "green lifestyle" choices and demand radical action to prevent the unprecedented crises of climate change.