It all sounds a bit grim, but there is actually a lot that could be done to make our economies and the environment work together a little better. From individual decisions we make on a day to day basis like driving a car vs taking a bicycle, to larger scale solutions like pushing for our governments to adopt more renewable energy sources, there’s a lot we can do as individuals to align our own economic interests with what’s best for the planet.
Governments around the world are investing more and more in renewable energy technologies, not only because they think the environment is important, but also because the technologies available can be better and more efficient than fossil fuel-based ones. The economic difficulty behind renewable energy is the fact that the people who would be able to invest money in developing the technology and making the transition in the energy system are reluctant to do it because it’s high-risk, slow, and expensive. Some people use this as a reason to call for government investment in renewables — private interests wouldn’t necessarily want to take the risk, but it would definitely be in public interest for someone to do it.
What else could we do in our day-to-day? Obviously this depends on what kind of economies we live in. A lot of people round the world actually live in very low-carbon economies, although that’s not necessarily a choice as it’s often linked to poverty and inequality as well. Those people who live in high-carbon economies can be aware of the simple things — what kinds of light bulbs they’re using, whether their electrical appliances are energy-efficient, and how much plastic they’re wasting, are just a couple of examples of how our economic decisions have the power to protect the environment, bit by bit.