It is a question probably many of us have been asking ourselves for a while. If you and I had the clarity and vision like the amazing 15-year-old Swedish teen Greta Thunberg, probably then we would know our role and stick to it. But I am far from the living embodiment of greatness as Ms. Greta Thunberg. Perhaps short-term survival instinct is still something I and many of us struggle to get out of and therefore we often lack the foresight of comprehending how much we are indeed attached to another object by an inclined plane wrapped helically around an axis( i.e., screwed).
Hopelessly, no matter how much we care about our tiny little blue dot, it seems there is a systematic mechanism in place to screw the planet. So in the grand scheme of things, what do we need to do to save the planet from the systemic greed? Ms. Greta Thunberg did put the answer very eloquently and that is, "if solutions within the system are so impossible to find, maybe we should change the system itself."
"Our civilization is being sacrificed for the opportunity of a very small number of people to continue making enormous amounts of money. Our biosphere is being sacrificed so that rich people in countries like mine can live in luxury. It is the sufferings of the many which pay for the luxuries of the few... Until you start focusing on what needs to be done rather than what is politically possible, there is no hope. We cannot solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis. We need to keep the fossil fuels in the ground, and we need to focus on equity. And if solutions within the system are so impossible to find, maybe we should change the system itself." (Greta Thunberg at the UN COP24 climate talks)
As a guest panelist at Frankie Boyle’s New World Order in BBC 2, one of my Oxford college alumni who I really admire a lot, Guardian columnist George Monbiot forcefully enunciated that small things such as “changing your cotton buds and all these pathetic micro-consumerist bollocks, just isn’t going to get us anywhere” to stop the climate breakdown.
In his view, it is capitalism's desire for perpetual growth is the culprit that is eating out the planet. Because if the GDP is considered the measure of human welfare, then we are doomed because the desire for growth will mean we have to pump as much CO2 as possible and squeeze out the life of our biosphere in the process.
On his blog, Mr. George Monbiot nicely summarised this by elaborating that;
"Capitalism’s failures arise from two of its defining elements. The first is perpetual growth. Economic growth is the aggregate effect of the quest to accumulate capital and extract profit. Capitalism collapses without growth, yet perpetual growth on a finite planet leads inexorably to environmental calamity."
The Gist of what George Monbiot proposes is that there is still time to act and solve the problem of climate breakdown but;
"We can’t do it by just pissing-around the margins of the problem. We’ve got to go straight to the heart of capitalism and overthrow it."
Overthrowing the system!
Although very lucrative as an agenda, somehow it takes me too far away from the simple question I am struggling with and that is, as of today and now, what can I do, "PERSONALLY" (if anything) without calling for a full-blown revolution.
I guess I will go with Mr. George Monbiot's simple suggestions where he mentions that; there are one or two things we can do as a consumer which might make the change. "One is switching to a plant-based diet and it's a BIG, BIG change because animal farming has a massive environmental impact. And the other is stop flying". About the second one, being an overseas student in the UK, not flying isn't really, an option but that shouldn't keep me away from having my "flight shame" or as the Swedish calls it "flygskam." And beyond that, I wish to take at least some joy out of my involvement with Legume Express endeavour which is geared to share the green transformation of our team and do our part in saving the BLUE DOT one meal at a time.
Nazmus Tareque is an Oxford Law Graduate Turned Entrepreneur. He is the CEO of Legume Express Limited (UK) and the ex-president of Anglo-Eastern Commodity Ltd (Bangladesh).