What would you give up to save the world? Hot showers? Chocolate? Alcohol? Make-up? Driving? Your reputation? Your freedom? I’m not asking because giving up these things would directly result in the world being saved. I’m asking to get a sense of how much saving the world is worth to you (whether for your own satisfaction or for your kids or for nature or your legacy). Your answer should give you an idea of how much effort you should put in, that’s all. Because we can’t expect to be able to save the world AND still have everything we’ve ever wanted. Just like you can’t expect to be able to balance your household budget and buy everything you like. Living within your means and living within your ecological means are similar.
What should we do when greenhouse gas emissions are changing the climate (and while we can’t be sure of how bad the consequences will be we do know that they won’t be good)? Should we try to keep the economy growing and see if we can reduce emissions a bit at the same time? Or should we aim to control emissions first while doing the best we can for the economy?
What should we do when worldwide electricity demand is anticipated to grow? Put all our efforts into meeting that anticipated demand (fulfilling the prophecy) or think about whether the cost is worth the gain?
What would you do if your kids wanted more and more lollies? Get a second job so you could afford to buy an exponentially increasing amount of lollies and be able to pay dentists to repair their teeth and doctors to fix their diabetes and personal trainers to take them running to lose weight? Or only buy lollies occasionally and learn to put up with some whinging?
Maybe it isn’t about having to make a choice – maybe the choices are already clear. Maybe it is just about admitting that we can’t have everything.
The sweetest thing is that once you have accepted that you can’t have everything, you realise you didn’t want everything anyway. We are more adaptable than we anticipate!