Ocean Mist

Issues and trends shaping our environment, health and economy

15 Oct 2023

Eating ourselves to death

Posted by Michael Keating

In the 1973 French film, La Grande Bouffe, [the big feast] four men decide to gorge themselves to death on fine cuisine. It was a satire on excessive consumption, but now we are starting to see the reality. People are literally eating themselves to death, though at a slower pace than in the film, with too much unhealthy food, causing heart disease and diabetes. We are also eating up one species after another, whether “bush meat” in the tropics or fish species in decline that end up on our dinner plates.

We humans are inquisitive and acquisitive. These characteristics took us from caves to the moon. But our uncontrolled consumption of the planet’s resources and the resulting pollution threaten our very future. Overconsumption is the root cause of unsustainability. In 1987 the World Commission on Environment and Development said everyone is entitled to satisfy their needs and reasonable wants. What we see now is an orgy of consumption by the rich minority of people. Too many people feel this consumption brings enough pleasure that it offsets the fear of environmental collapse.

Either people don’t realize or don’t care that it will take decades, even centuries to undo much of the damage we are inflicting on our world. We are entering a whole new era in which climate change will inflict huge damage, we will lose species, and food production will likely fail to keep up with demand. We need something to trigger a great change in our thinking. People need see themselves living well within nature’s ability to regenerate natural resources and safely assimilate our pollution.

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