Slow solutions to fast-moving ecological crises won't work – changing basic human behaviours!

It will require a concerted multi-disciplinary effort to identify the best ways to produce a rapid global adoption of new norms for consumption
By: The Conversation
DALLAS - Oct. 23, 2023 - PRLog -- By: Mike Joy, Te Herenga Waka — Victoria University of Wellington, Phoebe Barnard, University of Washington

As the world grapples with multiple ecological crises, it's clear the various responses over the past half century have largely failed. Our new research argues the priority now should be addressing the real driver of these crises – our own maladaptive behaviours.

For at least five decades, scientists have worked to understand and document how human demands exceed Earth's regenerative capacity, causing "ecological overshoot".

Those warnings of the threats posed by the overshoot's many symptoms, including climate change, were perhaps naive. They assumed people and governments would respond logically to existential threats by drastically changing behaviours.

The young researchers in the 1970s who published the Limits to Growth computer models showed graphically what would happen over the next century if business-as-usual economic growth continued. Their models predicted the ecological and social disasters we are witnessing now.

Once people saw the results of the research, the authors believed, they would understand the trajectory the world was on and reduce consumption accordingly. Instead, they saw their work dismissed and business-as-usual play out.

The Behavioural Crisis

During these past five decades, there have been innumerable reports, speeches and data, ever more strident in their predictions. Yet there has been no change in the economic growth trajectory.

The first world scientists' warning to humanity was published in 1992 as an open letter, signed by hundreds of scientists and detailing how human activities damage the environment. A second notice in 2017, which thousands of scientists signed, included this stark statement:

If the world doesn't act soon, there will be catastrophic biodiversity loss and untold amounts of human misery.

The Conversation
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