Note that this short sub-section refers to many concepts we’ve already discussed in the Resources and the Economy section.
As we’ve seen in the previous sub-sections, a few ‘money-centered’ solutions already exist and can help us reduce our impacts on the environment. Unfortunately, each have their own set of challenges – most notably the lack of certainty that the offset/invested money really ends up making a difference.
To transition our societies into more sustainable ones, we’re going to need to make massive investments to restructure our energy supply, cities, and food/water systems. While some of those investments may pay off, it’s important to understand that highly sustainable societies won’t increase GDPs forever. Being mindful of our planet’s finite resources just isn’t compatible with economies built for infinite growth – it’s the exact opposite.
Now, that doesn’t mean we have to choose between a strong economy or a healthy environment. Rest assured, the planet’s resources are finite no matter how we decide to deal with the environmental crisis. The choice we do have, is whether we want to reduce our impacts on the environment now, or later once we find out the hard way that we can’t keep extracting resources unsustainably. By transitioning as soon as possible, we give ourselves time to adapt to a declining economy so that individuals don’t have to suffer the consequences [on top of the whole environmental crisis aspect].
Effective transitions require enormous investments from governments and significant consumption reductions from companies and individuals. As we’ve seen in numerous sections, large-scale solutions will be crucial to affect meaningful change swiftly – but we can’t forget that they’re reliant on support from the population. As such, it’s up to individuals to stand up for more sustainable policies to influence large-scale decision making. Alas, even then there are a few obstacles – such as political lobbying by polluting companies, or well-intentioned decision makers that have no expertise on sustainability [e.g. politicians, CEOs, large investors] and can end up doing more harm than good.
In any case, we shouldn’t be afraid of spending trillions of dollars to solve the environmental crisis. After all, the more we spend now to reduce our impacts, the less we’ll have to spend later to supply populations with food/water – or to clean up after increasingly frequent and intense natural disasters [e.g. in 2019, floods alone caused $36.8 billion USD in economic losses worldwide]. And very importantly, we’ll avoid irreversible damage to our environment and save countless human lives by transitioning to more sustainable societies as soon as possible.