In his book A Life on Our Planet, David Attenborough writes about what we need to do in order to live within the carrying capacity of the Earth’s ecological systems. He references the day when we start living on borrowed time, stealing from the next generation. Known as Overshoot Day he notes that this year – 2021 – it falls on 29 July.
What to do to push this date back, not just a little but a lot, will take a change of heart on all our parts and a determination to ensure that those changes are permanent – that we don’t have a relapse. Attenborough raises many issues two of which are relevant here. One is that we need to rethink what it is to live a more balanced life, balancing our needs against the needs of other species and Mother Earth as a whole living being. He urges us to have more plant based meals in our diet. On another note, also relevant here, is the need to curb the idea of continuous economic growth. He points out what is obvious but denied by many economists, that we can’t grow a finite planet. So the French move to curb short haul travel is consistent with this understanding and a useful step in the right direction.
This story by Amelia Lester touches on a couple of actions that provide practical examples of what we could do. In Planting a seed (Good Weekend, SMH, May 15, 2021) Lester writes about a well-known New York restaurant, Eleven Madison Park, which has recently reopened its doors after closing due to COVID-19, and become Vegan or as its chef and owner, Daniel Humm, prefers to call it, ‘plant based’.
She goes on to write ‘that COVID-19 has been a much-needed wake-up call for a society that has long been living beyond its means environmentally.
This theme has already played out in France, where flights that could be taken by train in under 2 ½ hours have been banned.
When the best restaurant in the world pivots to a plant-based menu, it makes me think that, with some ingenuity and thoughtfulness, we can have a little from Column A and a little from Column B.
That maybe it’s possible to have a good time without harming others or the planet. And that the millions of people around the world who’ve only ever known or wanted to eat a vegetarian diet are not only not wrong, but exemplars.
Even for those of us who hail from a land of meat and two veg, eating vegetables, and only vegetables, doesn’t have to be that hard.
Variety might be the spice of life, but we should also use more actual spices.’
To find out more about the French ban click on the link: France moves to ban short-haul air travel