With political pressure and these smart policy goals, a new sense of the common good could be within reach
Today is Earth Day, which should provide us with an opportunity to pause and confront the awful predicament humanity faces. We eat microplastics, breathe pollution and watch other life-forms decline to extinction. We face intersecting poverty, health, climate and biodiversity crises. Our global predicament is that consumption by the wealthy is driving us towards planetary disaster, yet billions live in poverty and need to consume more to live well. In this cycle, any version of “success” only hastens catastrophe.
Solving this conundrum requires much more than merely reducing the impact of high-consumption lifestyles. Similarly, if we focus on increasing efficiency this tends to increase resource use: make cars cheaper to run and people drive more. The core of any response that truly rises to this challenge will be interlocking policies that drive society on to an equitable and sustainable path.