The pressure on our planet and society is increasing rapidly. You might look at this a a sort of funnel.
Increasing The gray line that goes up (bottom) represents the increasing pressure from society. The growing world population, global prosperity, the demand for products and raw materials, pollution, demands of citizens, etc..
Decreasing The green line (top) that goes down represents everything that we get less and less of. Such as potable water, raw materials, clean air, fertile soil, biodiversity, equality and also trust in government, in science and in each other.
Everything reinforces each other The developments are also mutually reinforcing. With an increasing population and at the same time an increase in prosperity, consumption is rising strongly. More cars, more meat, more travel by plane, etc. The moment the two lines meet (green dotted line), our way of life is no longer possible.
Why taking action today is better than to wait… Imagine the following: put this funnel upright and throw a marble in it. At the outer edge, the marble will circle relatively slowly through the funnel. But the closer it gets to the opening at the bottom, the more often it bumps into the walls, circling faster and faster. The room to manoeuvre (red dotted line) to change course is decreasing and the pace at which we bump into the walls is increasing.
More often and faster we will bump into the walls. Think of the nitrogen challenge, the PFAS challenge, the financial crisis of 2008, the dissatisfaction of teachers, builders or farmers, the damaging effect on the houses of the people fossil-fuel-rich areas through the mining of natural gas, the emission scam at Volkswagen, the heat stress in our cities, the flooding and the storms, the Ebola-outbreak, the wild fires in Australia, the lack of affordable housing and of course the COVID-19 crisis, which we are now experiencing.
What can we do? We will have to make sure that the two (green dotted) lines do not intersect. We can bend the lines by reducing our impact. We can even let the lines run apart again. This is achieved by restoring functions of our systems, such as good soil management, reforestation, using CO2 for products, removing fishing nets and plastics from the oceans, etc.
Yes we can This may sound like an impossible task, but it certainly isn’t. We’ve even managed it before. We facilitated the recovery of the hole in the ozone layer*, by banning the use of CFCs in e.g. aerosols, coolants, pesticides and solvents.
* Good to know that the hole is not completely closed yet. CFCs take more than 100 years to break down and at extremely cold temperatures at the poles, these CFCs still cause the ‘hole to become larger and smaller’ temporarily.