If the Earth were a Pie, We Would’ve Run Out of Slices a Long Time Ago

Hello, readers and classmates!

                Last we blogged together, we talked about collapse and how it related to the fall of Easter Island and the potential fall of humankind and Earth as we know it (cue the horror music!!!). In these last two weeks, the focus has stayed global as we discussed whether globalization aligns with sustainability or not. Spoiler Alert: it doesn’t. Stay tuned to find out why!

The readings were particularly engaging this week as half the class was given articles supporting globalization in sustainability while the other half got articles against globalization in sustainability. My article was pro-globalization, which was a fun read to critique! Starting off on a reasonable note, the authors of this article claimed that globalization allows countries to share technologies much faster, giving them the opportunity to skip early stages of industrialization, which makes a lot of sense. What didn’t make a lot of sense as a positive for sustainability was the blatant acknowledgement that environmentalism would get so much worse before it got better. Referencing a U-shaped graph called the Kuznets Curve, much of the article was centered on the idea that as per capita income increases in society over time, the quality of the environment worsens. After an undefined peak, the curve supposedly goes down as people are comfortable enough in their own income and living situations to start caring about the world around them. This argument unfortunately seems to generalize, assuming that people are mostly good and interested in investing in their environment, when oftentimes many large organizations and producers are more interested in profits than investing in a better world, which is why we have environmental damage as drastic as we do today. The authors also advocate for free trade and free market between cities, claiming that resources that are scarce will not be produced as often because the prices will go up and people will search for more affordable substitutes. This idea was also problematic to me because it encourages large-scale manufacturing and resource depletion to achieve the most competitive prices, which is an environmental issue in its own rite. If we consider wood products, for example, large businesses who are trying to compete for customers are likely to do everything they can for those competitive prices – including mass deforestation, severe underpaying of employees, speedy (and often, polluting) manufacturing, and poor environmental practices through the whole process. It seems like a reasonable assumption to claim that free trade and the competition for business is a massive environmental problem, not something that supports or upholds sustainable practices. These are the issues that I brought up with my group as takeaways from our weekly article, and this week, I didn’t feel like there was anything I missed or didn’t get to say. Both students who read the anti-globalism article felt like they did not understand the article at all, leaving the conversation open for our own opinions on globalization and its pros/cons. Everyone seemed to unanimously agree that globalization does not align with sustainability in modern day.

Along with the discussion of globalization, we’ve been tasked with spending five minutes a day practicing some mindfulness. Though I’ve practiced mindful meditation in the past, I’ve been trying to bring this practice back into my daily life in new and meaningful ways – not only by taking a few minutes to sit on my porch in the morning and collecting my thoughts, but also by being aware of my own consumer urges at the grocery store, when buying coffee, and when recycling goods I already have. It has been difficult to maintain a regular schedule with being mindful, but so far, it has been rewarding.

Because I closed out my last blog with a dessert analogy, I’ll do the same this time around; if the Earth was a pie and those with the most wealth and capability to help the environment were within arm’s reach of that pie, there would be no pie left for anyone else here. Those massive manufacturers playing a role in the global trade market tend to be the greediest of all, and they are the ones most capable of producing positive change. That’s all for this week, classmates – see you next time!

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