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God: "I looked for someone to take a stand for me, and stand in the gap" (Ezekiel 22:30)

The real God: don't settle for substitutes

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The behavioural crisis driving ecological overshoot

BeauHD reports on Slashdot:

In a new paper published in the journal Science Progress, author Joseph Merz argues that climate issues are symptoms of ecological overshoot, driven by exploited human behaviors such as overconsumption, waste, and population growth. The paper emphasizes the need to change societal norms and behaviors through various means, including using marketing and media strategies to promote sustainable living, rather than solely focusing on technological or policy solutions. The Guardian reports:

Merz and colleagues believe that most climate “solutions” proposed so far only tackle symptoms rather than the root cause of the crisis. This, they say, leads to increasing levels of the three “levers” of overshoot: consumption, waste and population. They claim that unless demand for resources is reduced, many other innovations are just a sticking plaster. “We can deal with climate change and worsen overshoot,” says Merz. “The material footprint of renewable energy is dangerously underdiscussed. These energy farms have to be rebuilt every few decades — they’re not going to solve the bigger problem unless we tackle demand.”

“Overshoot” refers to how many Earths human society is using up to sustain — or grow — itself. Humanity would currently need 1.7 Earths to maintain consumption of resources at a level the planet’s biocapacity can regenerate. Where discussion of climate often centers on carbon emissions, a focus on overshoot highlights the materials usage, waste output and growth of human society, all of which affect the Earth’s biosphere. “Essentially, overshoot is a crisis of human behavior,” says Merz. “For decades we’ve been telling people to change their behavior without saying: ‘Change your behavior.’ We’ve been saying ‘be more green’ or ‘fly less’, but meanwhile all of the things that drive behavior have been pushing the other way. All of these subtle cues and not so subtle cues have literally been pushing the opposite direction — and we’ve been wondering why nothing’s changing.”

The paper explores how neuropsychology, social signaling and norms have been exploited to drive human behaviors which grow the economy, from consuming goods to having large families. The authors suggest that ancient drives to belong in a tribe or signal one’s status or attract a mate have been co-opted by marketing strategies to create behaviors incompatible with a sustainable world. “People are the victims — we have been exploited to the point we are in crisis. These tools are being used to drive us to extinction,” says the evolutionary behavioral ecologist and study co-author Phoebe Barnard. “Why not use them to build a genuinely sustainable world?” Just one-quarter of the world population is responsible for nearly three-quarters of emissions. The authors suggest the best strategy to counter overshoot would be to use the tools of the marketing, media and entertainment industries in a campaign to redefine our material-intensive socially accepted norms.”

We’re talking about replacing what people are trying to signal, what they’re trying to say about themselves. Right now, our signals have a really high material footprint — our clothes are linked to status and wealth, their materials sourced from all over the world, shipped to south-east Asia most often and then shipped here, only to be replaced by next season’s trends. The things that humans can attach status to are so fluid, we could be replacing all of it with things that essentially have no material footprint — or even better, have an ecologically positive one.”

To play the Root Cause game properly, you have to keep asking the question “why?”, until there is nothing left as a cause.

  • Why do we have excessive consumption and waste?  Let’s blame human greed and selfishness.
  • Why are we so fixated on greed and selfishness?  Because our heart and soul has been convinced this is better than contentment and generosity.
  • Why are we so easily persuaded this way?  We want to be kings and queens – we aspire to be a god.

But as we play god, we know full well we are not God.  Everything we build crumbles and fails when we refuse to follow God.  Following God gives us the heart and soul to be content and generous, placing God and others above ourselves.  This is an eternally smart decision.