Saturday, 18 October 2008

The Good Life - without a hairshirt

This week's 'New Scientist' magazine is a special issue, on 'The Folly of Growth - how to stop the economy killing the planet.'

I think it's worth a read if you can get hold of a copy. A peice by Kate Soper on ' The good life: breaking our dependence on profits and growth would make our lives better, not worse' is interesting.

Soper says there is 'the widespread assumption that becoming more sustainable will inevitably make our lives worse, which leads to green campaigners being dismissed as regressive killjoys bent on returning us to a primitive existence.'

She continues: 'It doesn't help that virtually all representations of pleasure and the life we should aspire to come from advertising, with its incessant message that our happiness is dependent on consuming ever more "stuff". We hear little about the joys of escaping the stress, congestion, ill-health, noise and waste that come from our "high" standard of living. '

Soper adds: 'The absurdity of our situation is illustrated by the way our economy profits from selling back to us the pleasures that we have lost through overwork: the leisure and tourist companies that sell us "quality time"; the catering services that provide "home cooking"; the dating and care agencies that see to personal relations; the gyms where people pay to walk on treadmills because the car culture has made it unsafe or unpleasant to walk outside. As the economy continues to expand, consumer culture becomes ever more reliant on our willingness to accept this. A growing number of people are starting to realise that there may be more to life than working to spend.'

And I would add that the present banking & financial crisis has shown that our economy, global or otherwise, which apparently thrives on all this, is actually built on sand.

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