Current reflections on sustainability …
It feels like a bad dream, like I was having a nightmare after watching a zombie apocalypse movie or something. Empty cities, emblematic monuments left abandoned to the sound of birds singing, parks without children and everything shut down.
The only thing you can see are frightened eyes behind masks in supermarkets, pharmacies or hospitals, ghost roads patrolled by public service bodies and rainbows painted with the slogan “everything will be alright” on the windows of flats and houses. In this time of desolation, we can’t hug our loved one, as an act of love and respect we have to keep our distance.
It’s a crucial moment to reflect, and also an opportunity to look at our social, political and personal life. The crisis is the turning point of a disease, which can mean a positive or negative change. In Latin, the word crisis means a decision or decisive point, and now we have to make many decisions.
You quickly realise that power, beauty, and money mean nothing and are worthless when you can’t get the oxygen you’re fighting for. The world continues its life, and we can only catch a glimpse of its beauty from our own cages. I really believe Mother Nature is sending us a message: “you’re not indispensable. The air, the earth, the water and the sky are fine without you. I’d even venture to say they are better. When you return, remember that you are my guests, not my masters”.
Part of the problem is found in the more impoverished areas in countries with governments that don’t want to see the risks emerging from this situation. These people are the most vulnerable and are exposed to virus threats and their consequences.
It is impossible to predict what the impact will be because it’s a chain reaction within a cycle where everything is connected. Now in the 21st century, we’re faced with a quarter of the world devastated, massive-scale logging and oceans filled with plastic and waste. And now, we’re forced to give the planet some respite.
Everyone remembers the images on TV of the great oceans covered with plastic, which is ingested by marine fauna, causing major ecological disasters. But we mustn’t forget that most of this rubbish comes from large ships dumping their waste at sea to reduce costs and avoid paying taxes instead of doing the right thing and unloading their waste in ports. The people or companies responsible for this type of activity should be tracked down and prosecuted, and the same should be done to large factories dumping waste in rivers.
We all need to be more aware of what’s happing around us and promote the recycling of plastics for different uses such as furniture. If we can make chipboard from recycled wood chips, then we must also look for functional alternatives for recycling plastics.
The reality is that we don’t recycle enough and the clean energies everyone is talking about are not being rolled out in large numbers, because it would mean an increase of about 30% in the cost of living. I don’t think so, neither for the large multinationals nor a young person earning a salary of 1000 euros a month, because in the latter case they would hit the poverty line. It’s evident that, as of today, there are countries that cannot afford this increase in the cost of living, together with three billion people living in poverty.
The central pillar to the solution must be in education. We need to raise awareness in the schools so that future generations are aware of the problem and feel the need to contribute to the environment and social well-being.
The problem that we’re seeing is that there are many countries exploited by the West and large companies that move trillions. This money is part of what we have and what we enjoy every day. I mean that we as developed countries are the ones who exploit the resources of other countries so we can have a better life and well-being.
All of this suggests that the solutions must be globalised and for the greater good. Without hypocrisy and looking at everyone in the same way. We can’t complain about the construction of a house or hotel on the beachfront when we accept the devastation of millions of square metres of land someplace else.
What I want to say in this regard is that, for example, in Spain, we still have coastal areas that could be used to good advantage. If construction was allowed in these areas in an organised and controlled manner, without excesses (I’m talking about 5 or 10% of developments for protected areas); these new buildings would create employment and wealth, as well as new places in our country that can be enjoyed and generate quality tourism.
New plantations should be set up in mountainous areas to offset these new buildings, as these would also create more green areas with greater benefits for the environment. Maybe we should apply the “Canadian 3-to1 method” to all nations, which is that if you devastate one square metre of land, you have to compensate me by planting three metres.
We need to reinvent ourselves and I believe the most responsive formula is the ultimate symbiosis between tourism, education, and respect for the environment.
One final message…
Children are the answer to our current situation. We must start in the schools by raising awareness and teaching the children about recycling and the environment, ethics, social well-being, poverty and a long etc. They are our future and the ones who will find the answers to a better world.