Saturday 25 January 2020

Our environment has its limits

Around 5,000 barrels of oil a day is estimated to be leaking from the BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, unleashing a potentially epic environmental and economic disaster in its wake.

To put it in perspective, we use 195,000 barrels more of this finite substance every day here in Ireland.

Since pollution can be defined as an increase in emissions of noxious substances from the economy, the only difference is we are releasing these noxious substances directly into soil, air and water, and, similar to the fate of the Gulf Coast of the US, expecting our environment to take the whack.

The immutable laws of entropy tell us we cannot "burn the same barrel of oil twice", nor can we expect the environment to endlessly absorb the impacts of pollution.

This seems to contrast spectacularly with the mantras of growth mania and the need to maximise per-capita consumption that we continuously hear in order to take the country out of recession.

As economist Herman Daly said: "We must abandon the shallow, contrived optimism of growth mania once and for all.

"The end of growth mania is no cause for despair; it is a hopeful new beginning."

John Fitzgerald
Co Kilkenny

Irish Independent

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