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Living Lightly column

Is the End of the World Nigh?

By Alan Hewitt, Chiltern

Living Lightly articles give an insight into efforts at sustainable living and protecting and preserving our natural environment. They are often inspirational and reflect the mantra, ‘think global, act local’. The battle to save our planet begins in our own backyards but have the world’s problems simply become too overwhelming?

Predictions that the world is going to end have been with us for millennia. Apocalyptic destruction of the earth is described in the Bible but there have been many other dire warnings. These include floods, earthquakes, alignment of planets, asteroid collision, even the appearance of Halley’s Comet. Of course they can be dismissed as emanating from cranks and charlatans but how do we react when men such as Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk are predicting the end of humanity?

Hawking has expressed the view that “Earth is under threat from so many areas that it is difficult for me to be positive.” He cites global warming, population growth, epidemics and the depletion of natural resources. The world’s population needs 1.7 Earths to support the demands on natural resources. It is not just the size of global population, now up to 7.5 billion people, but the scale of consumption.

Elon Musk, the entrepreneur who built the largest battery storage system in the world is an advocate for mankind to become a ‘multi- planetary species.’ He believes that we face extinction as a species if we remain on Earth. He is planning to establish a Mars colony by 2030.

Is this science fiction or fact?  If we colonise other planets will we merely repeat the mistakes we have made on Earth? Are we ready to give up on our world?  We definitely need a sea change in attitude from certain world leaders but as individuals we can still contribute.

Stop drinking bottled water, reduce food waste, recycle and compost, send less material to land fill. Use public transport or better still cycle or walk. Drive less and when you do slow down. Keep tyres inflated, that saves on fuel and tyres. Clean filters in air conditioning and turn off lights and unplugs appliances. Forsake plastic bags and disposable cups.

They are only small things but collectively make a huge difference now, and in the future. Otherwise start saving for that Mars trip.